It was the type of performance I had expected to see in October from this group of inexperienced players. But, I didn't think it would happen to a Bob Huggins coached team in late December against a team it should beat.
It was perhaps the ugliest game the Mountaineers have played under Huggins. I could only compare it to a 39-point scoring effort in a 62-39 loss to Cincinnati in 2008.
After trailing at one point by 19, the Mountaineers made an effort to come all the way back to within six points of the Pirates. But, it was not enough.
And, thus I scratch my head and wonder what this team really is going to play like by the end of the regular season.
I'm going to wrap a late Christmas bow on this loss, though. Even with the demoralizing defeat, the Mountaineers will continue to get better.
West Virginia will be an NCAA tournament team come March if it handles its business the rest of the way. I wrote that sentence for Friday's game … and while I still believe it, I think this game could start to build some doubt in this young team.
Huggins has said time and time again: his teams don't lose to teams they shouldn't lose to. He has proven that throughout his career at WVU.
He doesn't get upset save for a few games here and there. To be honest, there are only three games that I can legitimately call an upset in his tenure – that home loss to Cincinnati in 2008, a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Dayton in 2009 and this year's loss to Kent State.
Based on the preseason Big East poll, the Mountaineers were expected to win 11 conference games based on their schedule and the opponents they played. And, honestly, if it wins 11 Big East games, it will definitely finish in the top eight of the conference and perhaps in the top six. That would be a guaranteed NCAA tournament bid.
WVU has eight more home games in Big East play, and if it is able to win all of those, I'd feel confident in an NCAA tournament bid, as well.
It may seem early to start looking at an NCAA tournament berth considering the Mountaineers have played just two Big East games, but it's not. WVU must know what it has to do to get in – and a .500 record would do it, I bet.
After Friday's loss, however, I wouldn't consider anything unbelievable. WVU has shown at times that it can play with some of the best teams in the country. And, it has shown to play down to its opponent.
Despite being an underdog according to Vegas vs. Seton Hall, the Mountaineers should've won this game convincingly.
It didn't. Now, it's time to wonder how many more performances like this WVU can have before it takes a tumble down the Big East standings.
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