Coming off Saturday's sayonara send off to Miami, John Beilein and company have gained a bit of momentum, and regained some confidence with the Big East Tournament just around the corner. The win more or less cemented a spot in the NIT for WVU, but the Mountaineers would love to post a win or two in the conference tourney. The problem lies in the fact that Notre Dame is trying to play its way into the big dance, and with a win or two in Madison Square Garden, it will do just that.
"It's tough. You go to the Big East tournament and it's difficult to advance. With six teams possibly getting in (to the NCAA tournament), you have to beat one of them just to have another breakfast," head coach John Beilein said. "At this time of year, every one is playing hard."
To earn their first win in the Big East tournament since 1997, the Mountaineers will have to contain All-Big East point guard Chris Thomas and Torrian Jones, who left his mark on Beilein following the golden domers' January 7 win.
"Last time, Torrian Jones was the difference in the game. He was flying right through our zones to get rebounds. I think he had seven offensive, and seven defensive. He created extra possessions, and I think they hit three-pointers on three of them," recalled the Mountaineer head coach.
While the Irish are playing for an NCAA tournament spot, West Virginia need look no further than last season's first round exit in Madison Square Garden at the hands of Providence for motivation. "We felt we got embarrassed, like we were never even in the game. We'll take that game and use it as motivation," said a determined Tyrone Sally . "We've got to come up with more intensity and more focus. We'll try to think positive, and give it all we've got."
Added Beilein, "We have some confidence after winning down at Miami, but Notre Dame's got to be sky high because they are playing just terrific."
Wednesday's game will be on national TV in prime time, a rarity for these Mountaineers.
"We'll treat it just like a normal game day. If you play early, and then you lose, you just go home and it's like you weren't even there. If you play at 9:00, that's too late. So I would say that the 7:00 game is probably the best time," noted Beilein.
While this is certainly a business trip, it will be refreshing for the Blue and Gold to play a primetime tournament game, and a game on National TV. Due to the fact that they aren't a "marquee" team this year, ESPN hasn't shown interest in putting WVU on television for basketball. With their play this season, the Mountaineers have given ESPN no choice but to show them in primetime. Does anyone else feel like snickering?