Now members of the Big 12 for a decade, it’s been an interesting journey for Bob Huggins and these Mountaineers. He led the program to the Final Four back in 2010 when they were still in the Big East, but Huggins has had plenty of success in the Big 12 as well. In this decade, he’s taken West Virginia Basketball to three Sweet Sixteen’s, with five total appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
It hasn’t all been great for West Virginia, and it’s almost impossible to be consistently competing in a tough league like the Big 12. Last season saw the Mountaineers finish just 16-17 with a last-place finish in a very strong year for the conference. After earning a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament the year before, things did not go as planned for Huggins and this squad last year.
After a 13-2 start last year, the Mountaineers would win just one of their next 15 games, stumbling against some tough teams in conference play. This doesn’t mean West Virginia was a horrible team last year, though things certainly came a bit unglued after New Year’s last season. Consider that the Big 12 has put a team in the national title game in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments, with at least half the conference likely to be ranked most of this upcoming season.
Things won’t look the same this season for West Virginia as Huggins has greatly reshaped this roster with new pieces. Top scorers Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil may be gone, but a plethora of new faces will look to replicate their production. Malik Curry and Jalen Bridges won’t return either, meaning anybody who averaged more than 6 points a game last season will be back. Is this a bad thing after that absurd skid of losses in Big 12 play?
We’re going to look closely at this new-look West Virginia team and see what we can figure out about the Mountaineers for this upcoming season. We aren’t sure if we’re going to see the return of Press Virginia but you can expect that these players will play hard and compete for Huggins. With all of these very impressive-looking teams in the Big 12, it might be an upward climb for the Mountaineers, but perhaps that’s just how Huggins likes it.