Football season may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean Mountaineer sports are over. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are in the top 25, and the WVU wrestling team is starting their season, as well. There are three editions of the Backyard Brawl this month and a couple of other rivalry games to circle on the calendar. Let’s take a look at the top five games for Mountaineer fans to look forward to in December.
Honorable Mentions: Wrestling vs Pitt (December 9), Women’s Basketball at Texas A&M (December 3), and Women’s Basketball vs Pitt (December 7)
The WVU wrestling team will be facing a couple of rivals this month, and the first on the agenda is Pitt. Pitt is currently ranked 24th nationally and is led by a handful of nationally ranked wrestlers. The Mountaineers also have wrestlers ranked nationally, including Zeke Moisey and Jake Smith. WVU is off to a slow start this season, but this early rivalry match with a nationally ranked Pitt squad could get the Mountaineers on track.
The West Virginia women’s basketball team is off to a great start this season. The Mountaineers are currently undefeated and ranked 11th in the country. They are also coming off a big rivalry victory over Virginia Tech. WVU will face their toughest opponent thus far in Texas A&M. A&M is currently ranked 18th in the nation. This matchup is part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The game will also be nationally televised on ESPNU.
The final honorable mention is the first Backyard Brawl of the month. The West Virginia women’s basketball team will be taking on Pitt after they play #18 Texas A&M. This home game for the Mountaineers will be covered by the Mountaineer Sports Network.
5. Wrestling at Virginia Tech (December 22)
The West Virginia wrestling team will have arguably a bigger rivalry matchup later in December. This is when the Mountaineers travel to Blacksburg to take on a powerhouse Virginia Tech program. The Hokies are currently ranked 10th in the nation. They also have lots of experience with many nationally ranked wrestlers leading the team. Jake Smith and the Mountaineers will have a great chance to upset the Hokies and come back to Morgantown with a great team win as they head toward the bulk of their Big 12 matches.
4. Men’s Basketball at Pitt (December 9)
For the first time since 2012 Bob Huggins and the men’s basketball team will be playing in the Backyard Brawl. WVU currently leads the series 96-88, and West Virginia won the last meeting, which also took place in Pittsburgh. The Mountaineers jumped up to 19th in both top 25 polls, so they have an even bigger target on their back. And even though Pitt looks to be a weak opponent with a losing record, West Virginia should not take them lightly. If the Mountaineers play to their full potential, similar to how they played in the final minutes against Missouri, they could potentially run their arch rival out of their own gym. A blowout win would be very enjoyable for Mountaineer fans to watch, as the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
3. Women’s Basketball at Texas (December 31)
If the WVU women’s basketball team defeats #18 Texas A&M and stays undefeated throughout December, this could potentially be a great top ten matchup to start Big 12 play. This game is the biggest one of the month for the Mountaineers, and it could be the biggest game of the season. Texas is currently ranked second in the nation, only behind powerhouse UConn.
This game could be a great one between two undefeated teams, if they continue to win leading up to the matchup. The Mountaineers are led by senior forward Teana Muldrow, who is almost averaging a double-double with 23.8 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game. If WVU can get a win in Austin, it would put them on top early in the competitive Big 12. The game will be televised locally by AT&T SportsNet.
2. Men’s Basketball vs Virginia (December 5)
The Wahoos have found their way back into the top 25, and they may have found a new rival in the Mountaineers. Last year WVU went to Charlottesville and upset the Cavaliers who were ranked sixth at the time. This year seems very similar to last year. Virginia is once again undefeated and ranked ahead of the Mountaineers, who have one loss heading into the matchup, just like last year. UVA is currently ranked 18th in the AP Top 25, one spot ahead of West Virginia.
If this game is as competitive as last year, it could be the beginning of a rivalry between the ‘Eers and the ‘Hoos. Both teams have been consistently in the top 25 in past years, and both have also been contenders in two of the best basketball conferences in the country. And although the two are not traditional rivals, they are close regionally, and when it comes to basketball they are definitely the best two programs in the two Virginias. Continuing to schedule one another in the future would benefit both sides, and it could be a new, fun rivalry for the fans to enjoy.
The Mountaineers will have to play their best if they want win when the #18 Cavaliers come to Morgantown. A win over Virginia would definitely be a resume builder for WVU, considering UVA will be one of the better teams in the ACC. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
1. Football Bowl Game vs TBD (Date: TBD)
The Mountaineer football team is bowl eligible after finishing the regular season 7-5. Although the bowl game they will play has not been determined yet, it will likely be the biggest game of the month for Mountaineer fans no matter where it is or who it is against. As of now, there are three likely bowls for West Virginia. The first, and most likely, is the Camping World Bowl in Orlando. Our own, Andy Facemire predicted this could be a matchup against Notre Dame in his breakdown of Big 12 bowl possibilities. If West Virginia is in this bowl game, it will be on ESPN on December 28. The next likely bowl possibility for WVU could be the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. This would mean WVU would play on December 30 on ABC, and it could potentially be against Memphis, which would essentially be a home game for them. The third possibility could be against Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl. This would have the Mountaineers playing on December 26 on ESPN in Phoenix.
No matter what bowl game the Mountaineers play in, it will likely be the biggest game of December for WVU sports, but there are many other big games for Mountaineer fans to circle on their calendars. From top 25 matchups to Backyard Brawls and other rivalries, December should be a fun month for Mountaineer sports.