WVU Believes It Is Back in NCAA Conversation

On more than one occasion this season, we've written about West Virginia wins and have asked the question of whether or not it represented an actual turnaround in this team.

You've seen the potential that it could be happening, but just as quickly the Mountaineers have pulled the rug out from under itself and have regressed back to what it was a year ago.

But in order for any team to truly get over the top and do what it wants to do, it has to truly believe in itself.

It's a type of confidence that doesn't just come from talking about how you think you can do something, it comes from actually getting the job done. And it's a process that begins with showing that you can compete with quality teams, then beating them - and finding ways to do so consistently.

After Wednesday night's win against No. 21 Oklahoma, its first victory against a ranked opponent in more than two years, West Virginia is at the point where not only does it think it is able to beat teams but it believes it should be back in the conversation to be on the bubble and possibly earn an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.

"If the last three teams are considered 'tournament teams,' then hell yeah we should be in the tournament too," said sophomore guard Eron Harris just moments after taking down the Sooners in overtime.

After getting out of non-conference play without a good resume win to its name, WVU knew it was going to have to find ways to steal a few against a very good and deep Big 12 Conference if it wanted to at least put itself in the conversation to be among the league's better teams.

With wins against Baylor, Kansas State and now OU, things certainly seem to be heading in the right direction. This team has the pieces it needs in order to be successful, and it's always hard to count out a team coached by Bob Huggins when it comes to being able to make some noise and find a way to get into the tournament.

However, it's a little bold to be saying this team is going to punch a ticket when March rolls around.

Wins against schools like Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma are nice to have and will surely look nice on the resume at the end of the year, but they are what they are. Those are three teams that will bounce in and out of the top 25, more than likely, for the rest of the year and aren't groups that will really compete for the Big 12 title. Those teams are Kansas and Iowa State.

In order for WVU to really be able to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament, it needs to beat one of those teams. With the missed opportunities WVU has had up to this point, and with losses like the Virginia Tech game early in the year holding it down, it needs more than just a couple wins to fully complete the turnaround.

But the Mountaineers are on the right track, and appear to be in really good shape to at least secure a spot in the NIT and another postseason berth after missing out a year ago. They're in a good place right now and are playing better basketball than they have in about two years, but now is the time when they need to put it all together. They have their chances to get a couple more marquee wins in the next few weeks.

If they can capitalize on those opportunities, then maybe we can talk about going back to the Big Dance. But for now, this team remains to be what it has been all season: A much-improved team that is going to surprise some teams and will be equally fun and frustrating to watch as the final weeks of the season fly by into March.

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