Following this past Wednesday's lopsided loss at Rutgers, the Mountaineers need a win Saturday to halt a two game skid, and get their conference record back up to .500 (7-7).
"It's a great game to get back on track. Anytime you have a chance to get a road win, it's a good thing," said Mountaineer junior forward Tyrone Sally.
Added head coach John Beilein, "They're all the same at this time of year. One win could mean a better seed for us when it comes time for the Big East Tournament. Instead of playing in a 5 versus 12 game, we could be in a 7 versus 10 or 8 versus 9."
The atmosphere is expected to be raucous in Cassell Coliseum come Saturday, as the game has been sold out for nearly two weeks. A Tech win Saturday would give the Gobblers their first and only Big East season sweep of an opponent.
"It's going to be a great basketball game. You look at how well they've played at home. They have a great win over Providence, and Providence is a pretty darn good basketball team," noted Beilein.
To stop the Hokies, the Mountaineers will have to improve on a number of things from the Rutgers game.
"We have to shoot the ball well. We have three good shooters shooting 25 percent from three-point range in conference play, whereas they were shooting around 40 percent in non-conference play. If we don't shoot it well, it's hard for us to win," said Beilein.
Another area West Virginia will seek improvement in is defense. In the first game against Virginia Tech, freshman Zabian Dowdell had an absolute field day from downtown, going 5-9 and scoring 20 points, including 14 in the second half. The WVU defense must find Dowdell on the perimeter, or else bring a rag to wipe off all the dust from three-point land that will be left on the ball.
Finally, to beat Tech, the Blue and Gold has to do a better job of getting to the foul line. In Wednesday night's game at Rutgers, the Mountaineers shot just two free throws. Yes, that's right. Two.
"We have got to drive the ball more. You're going to get bumped a little and you're going to get some non-calls, but we have to drive the ball a lot more than we did the other night," according to Beilein.
Beilein is right. A win Saturday would be huge. Any road win in the Big East stands out. The win would also give the Mountaineers a firm grasp on an NIT slot. Is this a winnable game? You better believe it. But if the Mountaineers expect to just show up and walk out of Blacksburg with a W, they're going to have to bring a lot more to the table than they did Wednesday night at the RAC. If not, the Hokies will be heading to the ACC cellar next season with a season sweep over their rivals to the north.