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Mountaineer Morning Links: St. Patrick's Day (3/17/15) Edition

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More on the Buffalo matchup, women also draw Buffalo (WNIT), football notes, rifle celebration today, baseball takes on Akron, recruiting updates, Big 12 roundup & more.

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Welcome, By-Godders, to the Shotgun/Throwdown, WVU's best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor and daily distractions. We're being brought to you today by Guinness Draught, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

What You May Have Missed:

Forget Kentucky, meet the real March Madness dominator - Washington Post
It is also the time of year for West Virginia University to win an NCAA Championship — in rifle shooting.

Baseball Takes on Akron at CONSOL Energy Park - WVU Athletics
The West Virginia University baseball team will play its first midweek game of the season when it takes on Akron on Tuesday, March 17, at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pennsylvania. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

West Virginia set for mid-week tilt with Akron - Daily Athenaeum
After dropping two of three games to No. 16 Texas at Disch-Falk Field in Austin last weekend, the West Virginia baseball team returns home to take on Akron tonight at 7 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Park in Washington, Pa.

WVU Hosts Buffalo on Thursday in WNIT - WVU Athletics
"We are excited about the opportunity to play in the WNIT," said coach Mike Carey. This will be a good challenge for us. I expect us to play hard with the goal to win this tournament."

Bubble goes pop as Mountaineers women narrowly miss NCAA berth - WV MetroNews
West Virginia, sporting an 18-14 record and No. 75 RPI, narrowly failed to make the NCAA women’s tournament Monday night, the Mountaineers’ first omission since 2009.

Wearing the Jersey: Jake A. Smith - WVU Athletics
Wrestler Jake A. Smith is a home grown product of West Virginia. This doesn't mean his road to WVU was easy. Watch his story on this week's Wearing the Jersey

Mountaineers continue spring practices - Daily Athenaeum
While they aren’t officially competing yet, West Virginia University’s men’s golf team has been working hard to develop its game throughout the semester to prepare for the 2015-16 season.

Prediger Named Athlete of the Week - WVU Athletics
Varsity Sports Report

News of Note:

WVU, Buffalo have similarities heading into NCAA tournament - Charleston Daily Mail
"They really compete," Huggins said.

WVU NCAA opponent Buffalo short on depth but not on talent - Charleston Gazette
The Buffalo team that West Virginia plays in the first round of the NCAA tournament isn’t especially deep, but the Bulls do have both size and athleticism, are experienced and don’t make a lot of mistakes.

Reality check on WVU’s opponent - Charleston Gazette
Indeed, if there is a perceived advantage here, that’s all it is — perceived. West Virginia’s practical tournament experience as far as players are concerned is all of 27 minutes.

WVU opponent may be tough - Times West Virginian
Well, now that everyone should know who and where West Virginia will play its first game in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, most fans are now looking to see who they might play on Sunday if they win on Friday against Buffalo.

FURFARI: WVU gets terrific setting for NCAA start; even Huggins seems pleased - Times West Virginian
To this veteran observer, the first-round pairings for West Virginia men’s basketball for the NCAA tournament couldn’t have been better.

Bowling Green assistant, Morgantown native Mark Downey scouts Buffalo - WV MetroNews
"They’re talented," he said. "Not real deep, because they play about eight guys, but they are talented."

Getting to know West Virginia’s NCAA opponent: the Buffalo Bulls - WV MetroNews
With a 32 RPI, they're the highest rated 12 seed in the NCAA field.

Huggins raves about Staten’s mobility in practice: ‘He is back’ - WV MetroNews
Coach claims All-Big 12 point guard is primed and ready

Staten, Browne are 'Good to Go' - WVSports.com
Staten has missed the last five games and Browne has sat out the last four games.

Tournament opponents not ready for WVU’s full-court pressure - Daily Athenaeum
It’s been long awaited and much anticipated, but March Madness is finally here. And, for the first time since 2012, West Virginia is a part of it.

A common bond - Exponent Telegram
Think of it, this matchup in the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament of coaches who have had near death experiences.

Huggins has respect for Buffalo, Hurley - BGN
West Virginia will have its hands full in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon when the Mountaineers take on a No. 12-seeded Buffalo team that will be making its first trip to the Big Dance.

Huggins Talks Buffalo, Health of Staten, Browne - EerSports
"Bobby has done a great job coaching. They play the way he did. They compete really hard. They rebound it very well and I think they take really good care of the ball."

Staten returns home with WVU - Martinsburg Journal
Juwan Staten is coming home.

Home Away From Home: WVU Embarks on Buckeye State - WVillustrated
The road to the Final Four will take WVU through the state of Ohio first, offering a chance for several Mountaineers to return to their home state.

West Virginia enters big dance as No. 5 seed, looks for win over No. 12 seeded Buffalo - Daily Athenaeum
West Virginia is heading back to the NCAA Tournament after missing the big dance for two consecutive seasons. The Mountaineers have earned a five seed, but may have gotten the raw end of the deal.

2015 NCAA Tournament: Previewing the Buffalo Bulls - Bull Run
This week, between West Virginia supporters and newer Bulls fans, there's a lot of people who could use a broader look at the team as a whole, rather than my usual game recap writing that assumes a certain level of familiarity with the team.

Watch: West Virginia Vs. Buffalo Breakdown - BGN
The 5th-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers will begin NCAA Tournament play against the 12th-seeded Buffalo Bulls in Columbus. Blue Gold News' Kevin Kinder and Scout’s Evan Daniels break down the matchup.

With 7 teams in, Big 12 now needs to prove itself - Exponent Telegram
"It would be great if four of our teams end up in the Sweet 16 — or seven of them, really. I think we’ve proven over the test of time what we do," Huggins said.

NCAA College Basketball Polls - ESPN
AP #20, Coaches #21

Football

Meanwhile, spring football began - WVU Sports with Mike Casazza
How about a depth chart?

Spring Practice Photo Gallery No. 1 - EerSports
EerSports photographer Craig Gunter shares some photos from Sunday's first spring practice of the year.

Predicting March Madness 2015 as if each college's football team is playing - SBNation.com
Elite 8

2015 NFL mock draft: Free agency changes the 1st round - SBNation.com
11. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Spain Impresses Scouts Despite Lack of Combine Invite - EerSports
Spain had no problem putting up solid times all over the board, most notably an 8-0 foot broad jump and a quick 4.91 40-yard dash, which is outstanding for lineman of his size.

PHOTOS: WVU Football Opens Spring Practice - WVillustrated
Take a look inside Milan Puskar Stadium as the Mountaineers opened spring practice Sunday evening to put in work for the 2015 football season.

Recruiting:

Ohio QB Making Spring Break Rounds - 247Sports
Dublin (Ohio) Coffman quarterback Gunnar Hoak tells 247Sports he'll spend this week's spring break visiting West Virginia on Tuesday, Duke on Wednesday, Pittsburgh on Thursday and Toledo and Bowling Green both on Saturday.

WVU recruiting: Junior Day results in two commits, another possible - Charleston Gazette
It was another successful Junior Day for West Virginia as the Mountaineers opened spring practice and also opened the brand-new team room to top recruits from around the nation.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard - ESPN
Several elite recruits in the area were in Dallas over the weekend to battle for a spot in The Opening, an elite Nike football camp held annually in June in Eugene, Oregon.

Around the League (and Beyond):

No excuses for Big 12 in NCAA Tourney - FOX Sports

NCAA Tournament 2015 First Look: #3 Baylor vs. #14 Georgia State - Our Daily Bears

Iowa State's head coach Fred Hoiberg explains their tournament gameplan - SBNation.com

Who Does Kansas Want In The Second Round? - Rock Chalk Talk

K-State hoops in precarious position - Topeka Capital Journal

Sooners have a lot to live up to - Oklahoman

Oklahoma State men's basketball: Oregon revisited? These Ducks are different - Oklahoman

Joe Lunardi says the Texas Longhorns are losers, will lose - Barking Carnival

TCU Baseball: Monday Morning Manager--Frogs Sweep Baylor - Frogs O' War

Texas Tech Defensive Backs Preview - Viva The Matadors

What's On Tap:

National Championship Celebration - WVU Athletics
West Virginia University fans are invited to attend a celebration for the 2015 national-champion rifle team Tuesday, March 17, from 5 – 7 p.m., in Room 172 at the WVU Coliseum.

Video of Interest:

Video of (Dis)Interest:

Miss Throwdown:

Today's Miss Throwdown is a gorgeous model from the Great White North. CLICK HERE for today's gallery of Charlie Riina.