Across Enemy Lines: West Virginia

With three games left in its Big East season, the Mountaineers control their own destiny. The dream of an at-large berth is still alive, but there's no margin for error over these next three weeks.

A pair of wins last week over St. John's and Seton Hall left the Mountaineers at 16-8, 6-7 in the Big East entering the week. Three more wins and a victory in the Big East tournament would make 20 on the season, which may be enough to impress the selection committee given WVU's success in nonconference play.

Two of those games are on the road, and the big one starts this week. West Virginia travels to Pittsburgh, a team it came back to stun in overtime 83-78 when the teams met in Morgantown in early February. The Panthers NCAA Tournament berth is all but locked up already, but the team will be looking for revenge against its rival.

A sweep of Pitt, however, would leave a home date with Rutgers and a trip to Seton Hall to close out the regular season. Neither of the Jersey schools are going anywhere, and both have looked just a loss or two away from a full-scale implosion over the past few weeks.

With seven teams ahead of them in the conference standings, West Virginia can't afford another loss before the trip to Madison Square Garden in the second week of March. But if the Mountaineers can make it that far without a loss, they'll enter the conference tournament with a real shot at the NCAAs.


The 96 points West Virginia scored against Seton Hall are the most ever from a John Beilein-coached team in Morgantown.

West Virginia took only 20 three-pointers against Seton Hall, six below its average. The Pirates extended their defense beyond the arc to the NBA three-point range, limiting the amount of looks the Mountaineers got from downtown.

Lineup: Point guard J.D. Collins, shooting guard Johannes Herber, center Kevin Pittsnogle, forward Mike Gansey, forward Tyrone Sally.

Upcoming Games: at Pittsburgh, Feb. 23, vs. Rutgers, Feb. 26

Inside The Panthers: The first game between West Virginia and Pittsburgh was a battle of the frontcourts, with Kevin Pittsnogle, Tyrone Salley and Mike Gansey going toe-toe-toe against Chevon Troutman and Chris Taft. Another effort like that could give WVU a great shot at an upset, but it will probably take a much better effort from the outside - WVU's 13 three-pointers in that game were impressive, but they came on 40 attempts. Against Rutgers, the main job will be not to suffer a letdown after the emotion likely to follow the Pitt game. The Scarlet Knights are struggling, but can still be dangerous if not put away quickly.

Roster Report: Since returning to the starting lineup, senior center Kevin Pittsnogle has reached double figures in five straight games. He's averaging 17.4 points over that period.

As Pittsnogle gets more minutes, senior center D'or Fischer finds himself getting much less. Because coach John Beilein doesn't like to play his centers at the same time, Fischer got on the court for just 14 minutes against Seton Hall.

Tyrone Salley enters the week 15 points away from becoming West Virginia's 41st player to reach 1,000 career points. His 25 points against Seton Hall are the most he's ever scored in a Big East game.

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