Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Looking for a road win

The West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team split a pair of rematch games last week losing to a red hot Texas Tech team 89-81 in Lubbock and outlasting Kansas State 66-57 at home last Saturday. WVU has now split regular season games with both teams with the home team holding serve in every game.  West Virginia has yet to play Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. That changes this week with the Mountaineers hosting Iowa State Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. WVU will get their first look at Oklahoma Saturday in Norman at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. West Virginia won’t see top ranked Baylor until February 15 in Waco.
West Virginia’s chances for a regular season Big 12 Championship took a major hit last Wednesday against Tech. The Red Raiders shot an astonishing 11-17 from the three point line to keep the Mountaineers at bay. WVU now sits at 5-3 in conference play and Baylor is 8-0. Obviously, WVU isn’t out of the race with two games left against the Bears, but WVU needs to shore up some deficiencies before thinking about running the table.
Life on the road is challenging in the Big 12, especially when teams are torching WVU from long distance. In addition to last week’s onslaught by Tech, Kansas State was 9-18 from behind the arc in WVU’s loss to them last month, and the Wildcats were near the bottom of the NCAA rankings in three point shooting. WVU has one road win that came against Oklahoma State in the second conference game a month ago.
The Mountaineers are in position to make a nice run to close out the season, but they need to win some games on the road to finish strong and get a nice seed for March Madness. Again, they won’t be easy. WVU could be favored in three or four of their five remaining road games. Oklahoma could go either way, but Baylor will be favored. WVU will likely be favored in games at TCU, Texas and Iowa State.
I’m especially leery of games at TCU and Texas. The Mountaineers have already beaten them by 32 and 38 points in the Coliseum. Something tells me those two teams will be motivated for the Mountaineers. The loss last week dropped the Mountaineers in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology from a two seed to a three seed. WVU remained seventh in the KenPom ratings. The Mountaineers won’t be able to maintain those positions with multiple road losses.