MetroNews is reporting that WVU and head basketball coach Bob Huggins are close to finalizing a home-and-home basketball series with the Virginia Tech Hokies. The series would begin with a 2012 game in Morgantown followed by a return trip by the Mountaineers to Blacksburg in 2013. If we are to believe Huggins' previous statement that WVU had only one non-conference game left to fill on the 2012-13 schedule, the game with Virginia Tech should round out the schedule. While the schedule likely won't be released in its entirety until late summer or early fall, you can expect to see a neutral site non-conference game (in addition to the conference home-and-home) with Kansas State and the annual game with Marshall. In addition, the Mountaineers will face former head coach John Beilein's Michigan Wolverines in the 2012 Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at the new Barclay's Center. Oh, and you can probably expect to see a fair share of mid-major programs to round out the slate.
All in all, not a horrible non-conference slate, but it does lack the name-brand panache of some former schedules that featured Ohio State, Purdue, UCLA and the like. Keep in mind, WVU will still be a relatively young team lacking the consistent elite play of Kevin Jones and the, uh...umm...threat of Truck Bryant scoring 32 points, or 0 points, or whatever. Sure, the addition of transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten, plus incoming freshmen Elijah Macon, Terry Henderson and Eron Harris should give the Mountaineers a few more options. But this is a team that is going to have to learn how to win games, and what better way to do it than against nonconference foes who are good enough to push the youngsters to improve without totally destroying their confidence? (See me trying to put a positive spin on things here?)
Look, I know VT/K-State/Marshall/Michigan isn't exactly a murderer's row, but it doesn't have to be. If WVU can escape nonconference play at, say, 9-3 or 10-2, it should be in good shape going into a decent Big XII slate.
Kansas will, of course, be fantastic. K-state, Texas, and Iowa State are all capable of beating WVU. Baylor will be down. And Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State...well, I'm not really worried about them. If the Mountaineers go 11-5 or 12-6 in the conference, that puts us squarely in the tournament again, where we can lose by 20-something to another 6 or 7 seed. Just what we all wanted.