In conjunction with the Big XII conference, WVUsports.com announced today the scheduling of three Mountaineer men's basketball games that will air on ESPN as part of the network's popular Big Monday series. The details of those games are better left to the official release, but we know that WVU will host Kansas and Texas on back-to-back weeks, January 28 and February 4, and travel to Kansas State on February 18.
If I had any doubts about WVU's move to the Big XII, they surrounded the effect the move would have on our non-football sports. Sure, the rifle and wrestling teams' schedules won't look much different, but the travel and increased competition may wear on our women's soccer, volleyball and especially baseball teams. But what about the men's and women's basketball teams, who are actually facing a step down in competition after departing from the Big East? How will the move to a lesser basketball conference and away from traditional recruiting hotbeds in New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey affect their ability to compete for a national championship through recruiting, scheduling, and competing against the nation's best?
I know it's just a schedule, but if WVU's extensive participation on ESPN's Big Monday is any indication, the hoops team will be just fine. True, there may not be as many great teams in the Big XII, but there is still plenty of solid competition, and in fact, WVU's record will likely be better in the new conference as a result. And if you're worried about exposure, don't be. I can't ever remeber WVU playing 3 or more Big Monday games while a member of the Big East. The Mountaineers will have their chances to impress recruits and fans alike as they take on traditional powers on a national stage. And they will have their chances to build a solid tournament resume by facing teams that will prepare them for postseason play. Now, they just have to take advantage.