West Virginia


Season Record18-8

Player to WatchTaz Sherman

Key PlayersMiles McBride, Taz Sherman, Emmitt Matthews Jr., Jalen Bridges, Derek Culver, Sean McNeil

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The West Virginia Mountaineers were dealt what many thought was a knockout blow with the sudden transfer of former five-star forward Oscar Tshiebwe at the beginning of January, but it turned out to be addition by subtraction, as the Mountaineers only got better after that point. Following two losses in the first week after Tshiebwe’s departure – and an 11-day COVID pause – Bob Huggins was able to tweak his offense to better fit the squad he had. The Mountaineers flourished, with three top-15 wins and a 91-79 victory over the then-No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks.

Player to Watch

Most people would answer Derek Culver or Miles McBride, but Sherman has become the heart of this West Virginia squad down the stretch. He’s averaging 15.2 points per over the Mountaineers’ last five games, and has the play to create a spark when West Virginia is in a scoring drought. If you’re looking for someone to knock down that three to completely change momentum in a tournament game, Sherman is your guy.

Case for Team

According to Bart Torvik, this Mountaineer squad has a similar resume to 2011 UConn Huskies team that won the National Championship, and the 2012 Final Four Louisville Cardinals squad. These guys are gritty, fighting back from double-digit, second half deficits to win on multiple occasions this season. This team is every bit as good as the 2017 and 2018 Press Virginia teams that made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and has the potential to be as good as the 2010 Final Four squad with Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones. They were the only team this season to come within five points of beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and took Baylor to an overtime thriller in Morgantown. If the Mountaineers can keep the momentum from the end of the regular season going, they have a real chance at making some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

Case Against Team

As good as this team is, they’re not immune to a letdown. There have been numerous games this season where the Mountaineers have gone five or six minutes without a made field goal, and they have a tendency to play down to their opponents. West Virginia narrowly escaped Iowa State on both occasions this season thanks to their propensity to take their foot off the gas when they cross into a double-digit lead. If they do that in the tournament, against someone like an under-seeded mid-major, it could certainly spell doom for the Mountaineers.