For the second straight season, the Frogs' first home Big 12 game comes against the West Virginia Mountaineers. WVU swept the season series with TCU last year, but it wasn't without drama. The Mountaineers came to Fort Worth and ended the Frogs' 13-game winning streak with a tough 78-67 win. Later in the year, TCU dropped a highly controversial 86-85 overtime affair in Morgantown. West Virginia enters the season as the 23rd ranked team in the country, so the Frogs will have to bring it if they want to pick up their first win over the Mountaineers in program history.
Games 14 & 25: West Virginia Mountaineers
Date: Monday, January 4
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
Date: Saturday, February 13
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: WVU Coliseum - Morgantown, WV
Know the Foe
SB Nation: The Smoking Musket
Big 12 Preseason Ranking: 6th
Location: Morgantown, WV
Head Coach: Bob Huggins
2014-2015 Record: 25-10 (11-7, 4th)
Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
Key Losses: G Juwan Staten, G Gary Browne
Key Returners: F Devin Williams, G Jevon Carter, F Jonathan Holton
New Additions: F Esa Ahmad, G James Bolden, G Teyvon Myers
The Mountaineers lost leading-scorer Juwan Staten to graduation this offseason, but that's about where Bob Huggins' problems stop. West Virginia returns 11 players from a year ago, more than 70% of production from an offense that finished 36th in the country in scoring with 73.9 points per game. Devin Williams is the most productive returner, having averaged 11.6 points and 8.1 rebounds last season. Jevon Carter, Jonathan Holton, and Daxter Miles each averaged around 7.5 points per game and figure to be big keys in this year's offense. Add seven players with Division I experience on the bench, and the Mountaineers figure to be one of the most experienced teams in the Big 12 this year.
To add to his already high-powered offense, Bob Huggins recruited not one, not two, not three, not four, but five scoring machines. Two four-star recruits highlight this year's newcomers for West Virginia. Esa Ahmad checks in as the 46th-ranked player on ESPN's Top 100 list. The 6'8" forward out of Shaker Heights, Ohio averaged 23.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in high school. Add on 3.6 assists, 2.5 blocks, and 1.6 steals, and it becomes clear that Ahmad can almost do it all. In the final game of his high school career, Ahmad dropped a career-high 37 points. James Bolden is the other four-star recruit that Huggins pulled in. Bolden, a 5'11" guard out of Covington, Kentucky averaged 19.2 points and 4.8 boards per game in high school and is a prolific three-point shooter. As if that wasn't enough, West Virginia also added one of the top JuCo players in the country, Teyvon Myers. At Williston State College in, Myers averaged 25 points a night on 45.4% shooting. To round out their recruiting class, the Mountaineers also added Logan Routt and Lamont West, two more great shooters who averaged 20.0 and 17.8 points per game at their respective high schools.
On paper, the Mountaineers look to be one of the best offensive teams in the country this season. With a significant amount of returning talent, and a recruiting class ranked 35th in the country by 247 Sports, Bob Huggins' squad could be a high-scoring outlier in a college basketball landscape plagued by lackluster offenses.
Last Time Around
01/03/15: West Virginia 78 at TCU 67
West Virginia dominated the paint against the Frogs, and as a result walked out of a foul-filled conference opener with a win.
01/24/15: West Virginia 86 vs. TCU 85 (OT)
A pair offree throws with 0:00.9 left sealed an 86-85 overtime win for the Mountaineers this afternoon in Morgantown, in what may have been the most ridiculous finish since TCU joined the Big 12.
West Virginia 80, TCU 68
The Frogs have never defeated West Virginia, and unfortunately, I don't see that changing this season. TCU should have a pretty stout defense this year, but it will have its hands full against the Mountaineers. Even with an already high-scoring offensive attack, Bob Huggins' teams usually thrive off their opponents' mistakes. In the season series last year, WVU capitalized for 28 points off 37 turnovers. A big key in this game will be whether or not TCU can score enough to keep things close, and whether or not the Frogs can limit mistakes.
West Virginia 85, TCU 70
The Mountaineers are tough to beat at home, as TCU can attest to. Despite the Frogs' best effort a year ago, West Virginia stole a win in overtime, adding to their 12-3 home record. With much of that WVU team still intact and TCU looking to replace several major keys on the offensive end, it will be tough for the Frogs to pull a huge road upset in Morgantown this season.
Opponent Team Previews:
Game 1: Southeastern Louisiana
Game 2: Houston Baptist
Game 3: South Dakota State
Game 4: Rhode Island
Game 5: Maryland /Illinois State
Game 6: SMU
Game 7: Colgate
Game 8: Washington
Game 9: Prairie View A&M
Game 10: Abilene Christian
Game 11: Bradley
Game 12: Delaware State
Games 13 & 24: Oklahoma State
Games 14 & 25: West Virginia
Games 15 & 20: Texas (10/28)
Games 16 & 29: Baylor (10/30)
Games 17 & 23: Kansas (10/31)
Games 18 & 28: Texas Tech (11/1)
Games 19 & 27: Iowa State (11/2)
Game 21: Tennessee (11/3)
Games 22 & 31: Oklahoma (11/4)
Games 26 & 30: Kansas State (11/5)