March Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia is exactly the same as every West Virginia team that you have watched over the past 5 years. They press you and play great defense but they struggle to score in the half court. Bob Huggins collapsed on the floor during a game and blamed one of his players for it. The Mountaineers have big wins over Baylor, Virginia, Kansas, and Iowa State but they also have losses to Temple, Texas Tech, and a huge collapse against Kansas coughing up a big lead late in the second half. Many people will pick against West Virginia this year no matter who they are playing solely because of the loss to Stephen F. Austin in the first round last year.

Strength: They don’t call it “Press Virginia” for nothing

West Virginia will press you for 40 minutes. Nothing is free when you play the Mountaineers and their depth allow them to play 10 guys and not have to worry about fatigue or foul trouble. They are the best team in the country at forcing turnovers. The key to their press is not getting the point guard to turn it over but rather getting the ball into big men and other players not used to handling the ball and creating havoc from their. Their opponents must be discipline and patient to make the right passes and get the ball in the right hands. The other prong of the West Virginia style is that they tire teams out. They get into shooters’ legs and that makes a big difference at the end of the game when you need a clutch three or shot.

 

Weakness: Defensive Rebounding

As expected with small guard oriented pressing teams, Bob Huggins team struggles to keep opponents off the glass. They are very good on the offensive glass because crashing those boards plays right into the press. On the defensive end, West Virginia is very concerned on getting out on the break and that leads to second possessions for their opponents. The numbers back up my notes from watching the Mountaineers as they are 321th in the country in defensive rebounding. If West Virginia matches up with a good rebounding team, they could be in trouble early in the tournament.

Photo: BustingBrackets.com

 

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