Where WVU hoops stands as March begins

WVU Mountaineers

Unranked in the AP poll and slipping in bracket projections, the Mountaineers need wins down the stretch

For the first time since December, WVU men’s basketball is unranked in the AP poll.

The Mountaineers received just 22 votes, ending a streak of 11 straight ranked weeks. At the same time, Big 12 foe Kansas is the unanimous No. 1 this week in the poll, which can be viewed here.

West Virginia also continues its free fall in the NCAA NET rankings, though that downward trend has been much less severe. Once a top-10 team in that ranking, WVU is now No. 21 in NET with two regular season games to go. 

The latest bracket predictions from ESPN also project West Virginia as a seven-seed in the South region. On Feb. 8, WVU was tabbed as a two-seed in an official bracket preview from the NCAA selection committee

But while this recent slump has hurt West Virginia’s standing in a number of areas, head coach Bob Huggins doesn’t think the Mountaineers are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament entirely. 

“You have to look at the overall picture, because that’s what you’re judged by,” Huggins said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “We’ve struggled here of late. We have. There’s no doubt about that, and we’ve fallen from a potential two-seed to a seven, but seven is a long, long way from not being in the tournament.” 

WVU has dropped three in a row and six of its last seven, leaving it also in danger of a bottom-four finish in the Big 12. The top six teams in the Big 12 receive first round byes at the conference tournament, while the bottom four teams appear in the first round.

With two regular season games to go, WVU and TCU are tied with 7-9 conference records. The Horned Frogs own a tiebreaker, though, thanks to their upset victory over Baylor Saturday. But because TCU wraps up its schedule with games at No. 1 Kansas and against red-hot Oklahoma, it’s possible that WVU could clinch a top-six finish in the league by splitting its final regular season games.

The Mountaineers return to action Tuesday night at Iowa State, a place where they haven’t triumphed since 2017. That game will tip off at 9 p.m. ET. 

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