Ye olde notebook:
- Let’s face it, February was the lion and March the lamb – so far — for the WVU men’s basketball team.
In March, the Mountaineers have defeated Iowa State on the road and, Saturday, No. 4 Baylor at the Coliseum. Oh, and the latter was quite engaging, especially for Ohio Valley product Chase Harler, who got down on one knee and proposed to longtime girlfriend Lindsey Baker on Senior Day. (She said yes. “I think he’s marrying up,” joked WVU coach Bob Huggins. “So I thought he should grab it while he could.”)
So, heading into the Big 12 tournament (where WVU will first face Oklahoma on Thursday), all is good in Mountaineer Land.
Yet where exactly does West Virginia stand in the big picture? Yes, the Mountaineers are playing well again, but where are they with Selection Sunday six days away?
Well, let’s break it down. First, understand WVU is 21-10 overall and it finished 9-9 in the Big 12, recognized in rankings as this season’s second or third best conference. At home, West Virginia was 14-2. On the road it was 4-8. And, in a stat that should bode well for the rest of the season, it was 3-0 at neutral sites.
In the all-important NCAA NET ratings (NCAA Evaluation Tool, a results-oriented team-ranking metric that combines wins, scoring margin, efficiency and the location of games), WVU stands No. 17 on this Monday, March 9. The NET replaced the Rating Percentage Index as the primary sorting tool for the NCAA selection committee.
Playing off that alone, WVU would stand as a five seed in the NCAA tournament. Other metrics vary, like kenpom.com, which has the Mountaineers as the No. 10 team overall, and Sagarin, which has them at No. 20. The RPI, which still lends strength of schedule numbers to the committee, has West Virginia No. 15 with a 34 percent chance (its best percentage) as a No. 5 seed.
If you scout around, however, you’ll see the so-called “bracketologists” have WVU seeded less favorably. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Mountaineers as a seven seed playing 10-seed Utah State in St. Louis as part of the Midwest bracket. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has West Virginia as a six seed playing 11-seed Cincinnati in Tampa as part of the East bracket.
If either of those scenarios are close, it would behoove the Mountaineers to win a couple games in the Big 12 tournament to improve their seeding.
- The story that is WVU wrestler Noah Adams continues to flourish. In case you missed my blog on him, Adams is a Mountain State native – from Coal City and an Independence High graduate – who is ranked No. 2 nationally at the 197-pound weight class.
Well, this past weekend, he scored a 5-1 victory against No. 2-seed Tanner Sloan from South Dakota State to become just the second Mountaineer in program history to win an individual Big 12 wrestling championship.
He’s now qualified for the NCAA tournament, which will be held March 19-21 in Minnesota.
- And finally…
I’ve enjoyed following former WVU quarterback/athletic director and current XFL commissioner Oliver Luck this year. It was especially fun on Sunday, when Luck added to a gigantic “beer snake” of empty cups to the delight of fans.
Then, Monday morning, Luck joined the “Golic and Wingo” radio show on ESPN. He discussed the league and the “beer snake” but also spoke of NFL scouts at the games. He actually encourages the potential opportunities for XFL players and pointed to former WVU player Kenny Robinson, who is having a great season for the St. Louis BattleHawks. On Sunday, Robinson had two interceptions – including an acrobatic one – against D.C. Defender quarterback Cardale Jones.
Luck pointed out Robinson, in fact, is eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft – and is rooting for the former Mountaineer in that regard.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.