The West Virginia Mountaineers continue to impress with Press Virginia in full swing, and the wins are still rolling in. After WVU defeated Maryland, everyone knew that the 36-0 Kentucky Wildcats were next. Now, all I hear around Morgantown is that “the Mountaineers will make things uncomfortable for Kentucky”, “they’re interesting”, “this should be a good game”, etc. You know what I don’t hear? “West Virginia’s going to win.” I hear it on the edge of every Mountaineer fan’s lips, but they just don’t quite have the bravery to spit it out. But maybe it’s not so much a lack of bravery as it is a lack of madness (pardon the pun).
Before I go any further, I want to make it known that there is not a single team in this tourney that has zero chance to beat another team. After all, this is March Madness. Crazy things can happen, just ask Iowa State and Baylor. That being said, I think we can all admit that Georgia State and UAB were shockers. Now can we all agree that it would be just as much of a shock if West Virginia beat Kentucky? No? Well, let’s take a look and see.
Some believe that West Virginia can beat Kentucky because of the press and that the pressure will get to the Wildcats. I will agree that the press will get its fair share of turnovers, as it almost always does. I think a number around fifteen is fair to expect, but that doesn’t mean that Kentucky just couldn’t handle the pressure. This team was constructed last summer and instantly was penned as one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball, before they ever hit the floor together. That’s pressure. Also, from the get-go they had one of the hardest non-conference schedules in recent memory, and they won them all, some of them by a lot (sorry Kansas). They also won every game in the SEC including the SEC tournament. All of that is pressure. That’s not to say that the game against West Virginia isn’t pressure. It’s just to say that Kentucky has proven they can handle pressure.
I’ve heard that West Virginia matches up well with Kentucky. This is just an emphatic lie. Kentucky has 10 guys that either have NBA aspirations now or may have them later. I don’t know if WVU has more than two. Kentucky’s average height is 6’9”, while West Virginia has only one player on the team who is even taller than 6’9”, and he barely plays. Both Kentucky and West Virginia have deep teams, but there’s a difference between having a bench that can play and having a bench that could be a starting lineup for almost any other team in America. The latter is Kentucky, the former West Virginia.
I want to repeat that I am not saying that WVU cannot win this game, I am simply stating that if West Virginia does, it should go down as a miracle and Bob Huggins will add the greatest win of his already storied legacy to his resume. I just don’t want people understating the upset if the Mountaineers pull it off, because if they do, it needs to have its own special nickname, similar to the ‘Miracle on Ice’. The talent level between these two teams is very widespread and people need to appreciate that. I hope the Mountaineers can pull it off, but I will stay realistic knowing that miracles don’t happen every day.