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Mountaineer Morning Links: NCAA Tournament Opening Day (3/19/15) Edition

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Hoops features & Buffalo previews, football notes, new football commit, WVUPros update, 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 Blue Point Brewing's Spring Fling Copper Ale.

What You May Have Missed:

WVU and Buffalo Open WNIT Play Thursday - WVU Athletics
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

WATCH: WVU Women's Hoops Preps for Buffalo - WVillustrated
See what the head coach and the rest of the Mountaineers had to say Wednesday about the challenge they'll face with the Bulls in the WNIT.

West Virginia enters WNIT after missing NCAA Tournament, faces Buffalo - Daily Athenaeum
Just 19 hours before the Mountaineer men’s team faces Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament, the West Virginia women’s basketball team will face the squad from New York for the very first time.

West Virginia sends four men to NCAAs - Daily Athenaeum
Four West Virginia University wrestlers will compete at the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Championships starting today in St. Louis.

FURFARI: Popovich chose baseball over basketball for 12 years in majors - Times West Virginian
Popovich enrolled in West Virginia University on a scholarship in the fall of 1958, but he stayed just two years before he was called up for a Major League Baseball team in the summer of 1960.

News of Note:

Ohio roots run deep for WVU basketball team - Charleston Daily Mail
That West Virginia is here for its first NCAA tournament appearance in three years is one cause for celebration. It beats the NIT last season and the Nothing At All the season before.

Buffalo should expect pressure from West Virginia - Charleston Daily Mail
Casazza's Notebook

Officiating will be key for Mountaineers vs. Buffalo - Charleston Gazette
The best officials in the country are chosen to work the NCAA tournament. They will be rested, or at least comparatively so. Instead of working their sixth game in seven days, they are likely to be working their first in at least five days, and perhaps their only one of the week.

WVU, Buffalo coaches learned game from notable prep coach fathers - Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Bob Huggins moved out from under the shadow cast by the legacy of his father and became an even bigger name in basketball coaching circles by his early 30s.

Staten back to full health for Tournament - Daily Athenaeum
"My body feels good, getting back into shape and getting into a rhythm of things," Staten said. "I’m full-go, I’ve been full-go for the last two practices and I feel good."

Stats tell the story of WVU's rise to success - BGN
There were plenty of questions West Virginia needed to answer this year as the Mountaineers planned to end their streak of seasons without making it to the NCAA tournament.

Gold & Blue Now: Wednesday, March 18 - WV MetroNews
Bob Huggins and Peter Keading explain why they don’t buy into the 5 vs 12 hype.

Preview: WVU vs Buffalo - BGN
West Virginia and Buffalo are tied 1-1 in a series that spans 97 years, but this tiebreaker hold much more importance than either that long-ago game in 1918 or the more recent contest in 1991.

Mountaineers excited to head to NCAA tourney - BGN
As the Mountaineers prepare to head to Columbus to take on Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA tournament, several West Virginia players finally said what many thought last year about the team.

Holton WVU's mystifying secret weapon - Exponent Telegram
He is, in many ways, West Virginia’s secret weapon, this mystifying player named Jonathan Holton.

Hurley, Buffalo Set to Face West Virginia in Columbus - Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
Bobby Hurley casually slips the big shiny ring off the finger of his right hand and offers it to someone to hold.

Your upset pick should be the Buffalo Bulls, who have the heart of a champion - SBNation.com
They told Justin Moss playing basketball could kill him. Instead, he's a dominant star for the Buffalo Bulls, who could pull an upset in their first ever NCAA Tournament.

Mountaineer Insider - WVU Athletics
A spring football update with football radio analyst Jed Drenning and a preview of Friday's NCAA tournament game against Buffalo with basketball radio analyst Jay Jacobs makes up this week's podcast.

Football

Smith eager for an opportunity at the next level - Daily Athenaeum
Dreamius Smith’s senior season didn’t exactly go as planned. After splitting carries with Charles Sims in 2013, Smith figured to be one of West Virginia’s featured running backs heading into the 2014 season.

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Jameis Winston No. 1, Marcus Mariota No. 2 - SI.com (autoplay)
5 Washington Redskins Kevin White

Redskins could go in a different direction at No. 5 - 247Sports
According to Yahoo NFL insider Charles Robinson, after polling sources around the league, the Redskins could opt to draft a receiver with their first round selection.

Recruiting:

Sandwisch Commits to WVU - EerSports
"It’s just an awesome feeling there," said the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder after his visit. "It feels like I’m at home, even though I’m not at home."

Mountaineers Land Ohio Linebacker - Scout
West Virginia landed their seventh commitment for the 2016 recruiting class Wednesday when Toledo Central Catholic linebacker Zach Sandwisch pledged to the Mountaineers. The player made the announcement on his Twitter page, and discussed his decision with Scout.

WVU adds Sandwisch - WVSports.com
West Virginia picked up another major part to its 2016 recruiting class when Toledo (Oh.) Central Catholic linebacker Zach Sandwisch announced his commitment to the Mountaineers.

Cupp Holds Double Digit Offers - Scout
Leipsic offensive lineman Gavin Cupp has seen his recruitment take off this year, and he currently holds 11 offers. There could be more coming for one of Ohio's top 2016 prospects.

Pro News:

WVUPros on the Hardwood Report: Kevin Jones returning to old form in France - WVUPros
This week's WVUPros on the Hardwood Report features updates on Mountaineers playing professionally in Poland, Israel, Germany, France, Puerto Rico, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Around the League (and Beyond):

NCAA Tourney Mailbag: How far can the Big 12 get? - FOX Sports

"Sic March" - A Baylor Men's Basketball Hype Video - Our Daily Bears

Ames, You've Been Good To Us But The Time Has Come... - Wide Right & Natty Lite

Jayhawks’ Greene looking to regain shooting touch - Lawrence Journal World

What K-State’s players say is more telling than how they play - Wichita Eagle

Could the Sooners Really Make the Final 4? - Crimson And Cream Machine

Phil Forte keeping the faith - Oklahoman (autoplay)

Texas Longhorns March Madness: Butler vs. Texas Q & A - Burnt Orange Nation

TCU Wins Seventh Straight; Tops UTPA 5-0 - GOFROGS.COM

Texas Tech's Devaughntah Williams - A Year in Review - Viva The Matadors

What's On Tap:

2015 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament First & Second Round Schedule, Times, TV & Announcer Coverage - The Smoking Musket
Here is the full slate of games, TV coverage and which announcers will be calling each game.

(14) UAB Blazers vs. (3) Iowa State Cyclones - Preview - ESPN
12:40 pm from the Chicken Bucket on truTV

(14) Georgia St Panthers vs. (3) Baylor Bears - Preview - ESPN
1:40 pm from Jacksonville on TBS

(11) Texas Longhorns vs. (6) Butler Bulldogs - Preview - ESPN
2:45 pm from Pittsburgh on CBS

Video of Interest:

Baseball is eager to return home in April while the gymnastics team prepares for the Big 12 Championships this weekend.

Video of (Dis)Interest:

Miss Throwdown:

Today's Miss Throwdown is a gorgeous model of mixed descent. CLICK HERE for today's gallery of Valeria Orsini.