Mountaineers a Mighty Tough Match-Up:

West Virginia now looks to be a burgeoning Big East power. Returning most of their key players from an Elite Eight Team, including sharpshooters Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle, the Mountaineers have gotten off to a 3-0 start in the Big East and look to be serious contenders to win the powerful conference.

After last season's improbable trip to the Elite Eight, and knocking off the previously unbeaten Villanova at their place, West Virginia now looks to be a burgeoning Big East power. Returning most of their key players, including sharpshooters Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle, the Mountaineers have gotten off to a 3-0 start in the Big East and look to be serious contenders to win the powerful conference.

Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia's senior big man who strikes from the perimeter, put himself on the map with his clutch performances during last year's NCAA Tournament. This season, he has built on that performance, averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds a game, while shooting 54 percent from field and an impressive 48 percent from three. While always a tough match-up on perimeter, he has also improved his post skills, and can now also beat you down on the block.

Gansey is also going out in style in his final campaign, averaging 19 points and 6 rebounds a game while shooting an astounding 61 percent from field and 49 percent from three. The 6'4 forward will pose an extremely tough match-up, as he is equally adept at draining the three and taking the ball to rim. Gansey does struggle from the free throw line, hitting only 61 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.

While averaging just under 10 points a game, Joe Herber can go off for a big game at any time, as he scored 23 points against Villanova, 21 against Oklahaoma, and 16 against Texas. The 6'6, 210 pound senior swingman also leads the team in assists, averaging close to six a game.

Rounding out the starting five are swingman Frank Young, averaging 8.6 points a game, and point guard J.D. Collins, averaging four points and four assists a game.

Off the bench, West Virginia head coach John Beilein's son Patrick provides scoring punch, averaging nine points a game. While only hitting 32 percent of his threes this season, his proven ability to hit big shots showed during the 2005 NCAA Tournament, as he was named to the Albuquerque all-regional team.

One concern for West Virginia is their depth, as the six aforementioned players, along with back-up point guard Darris Nichols, are the only seven players who play major minutes for the Mountaineers.

Along with a lack of depth, West Virginia ranks last in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent from field. Still, the Mountaineers hold their opponents to an average of 64 points a game.

With Gansey and Pittsnogle, West Virginia has two of the top six scorers in Big East. A key for Marquette is making sure that they contain them, and not let the potentially dangerous Herber and Beilein go off.

In their maiden Big East voyage to Morgantown, Marquette will face a veteran laden squad who can shoot anyone out off the West Virginia Coliseum. Even if Marquette gets off to a slow start, they need to stay poised in an extremely hostile environment if they want to pull the upset.

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