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Selection Sunday: Current Bracketology and Possible Opponents

Just some things to think about while we wait for Greg Gumbel to announce where WVU will be placed in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Villanova vs North Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While we wait for the Selection Sunday show tonight on CBS and for Charles Barkley to struggle with technology making his picks, I thought I’d write this article showing our current bracketology and feature some of our possible matchup scenarios.

Here’s our current bracketology through ten different media outlets:

MEDIA SEED 1ST RD OPPONENT 2ND RD OPPONENT LOCATION REGION
MEDIA SEED 1ST RD OPPONENT 2ND RD OPPONENT LOCATION REGION
ESPN (Mar. 12) 4 Princeton Cincinnati/Vermont Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) Memphis, Tenn. (Mar. 24 & 26)
CBS (Mar. 12) 4 Princeton SMU/Vermont Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) New York (Mar. 24 & 26)
Bleacher Report (Mar. 12) 5 Vermont Notre Dame/East Tennessee State Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) San Jose, Calif. (Mar. 23 & 25)
Fox (Mar. 12) 4 New Mexico State SMU/Nevada Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) San Jose, Calif. (Mar. 23 & 25)
NBC (Mar. 12) 4 Bucknell Purdue/Vermont Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) Memphis, Tenn. (Mar. 24 & 26)
SB Nation (Mar. 12) 4 Princeton Virginia/Vermont Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) New York (Mar. 24 & 26)
Sporting News (Mar. 11) 4 Vermont Minnesota/UNC Wilmington Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) Memphis, Tenn. (Mar. 24 & 26)
Sports Illustrated (Mar. 12) 4 Bucknell Purdue/UNC Wilmington Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) Memphis, Tenn. (Mar. 24 & 26)
USA Today (Mar. 12) 4 Princeton Virginia/Vermont Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) San Jose, Calif. (Mar. 23 & 25)
Washington Post (Mar. 7) 4 Vermont Virginia/Texas State** Buffalo, N.Y. (Mar. 16 & 18) New York (Mar. 24 & 26)

**Originally mentioned UT Arlington. The Mavericks lost in the Sun Belt semifinals yesterday. I replaced them with Texas State, the highest remaining seed.

POSSIBLE SITES

I’ll do this section according to the bracketology projections above and likelihood of each city

FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS

BUFFALO

Arena: KeyBank Center (Home of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres)

Dates: Thursday/Saturday (March 16 and 18)

Driving distance form Morgantown: 4 hours, 31 minutes (282 miles)

History with WVU? Yes. The Mountaineers played their first and second round games of the 2010 NCAA Tournament there (yes, the Final Four season). Bob Huggins also won his 600th career game here during his first season with WVU, beating Canisius 77-54.

All ten media outlets in the above bracketology chart project that the Mountaineers will be playing their opening weekend in the Nickel City and as a projected top 16 seed, that is highly likely.

OTHER DECENT POSSIBILITIES: Milwaukee; Greenville, SC; Orlando; Indianapolis

SWEET 16/ELITE EIGHT

NEW YORK

Arena: Madison Square Garden

Dates: Friday/Sunday (March 24 & 26)

Driving distance from Morgantown: 5 hours, 56 minutes (380 miles)

History with WVU? Of course! Big East Tournament from 1996-2012, road games against St. John’s and many other non-conference games.

This would be the best option for Mountaineer fans if WVU makes it this far. In all likelihood we’ll be playing Villanova in this building so it would be a throwback to simpler times in the Big East.

MEMPHIS

Arena: FedEx Forum (Home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers men’s basketball)

Dates: Friday/Sunday (March 24 and 26)

Driving distance from Morgantown: 10 hours, 59 minutes (755 miles)

History with WVU? Nope. Jerry West was the Memphis Grizzlies’ GM from 2002-2007 though.

Despite the distance from Morgantown, this would be awesome. I went to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl a few years ago and Beale Street was a real good time. Plus Memphis is a basketball city.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

Arena: SAP Center (Home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks)

Dates: Thursday/Saturday (March 23 and 25)

Driving distance from Morgantown: DON’T EVEN TRY

History with WVU? Nope. The women’s soccer team played at Avaya Stadium in San Jose this past December in the Women’s College Cup though.

I personally know only one person that would be okay with this site (He’s a Bay Area native). The only potentially good thing about this is playing Gonzaga. I’d be okay with it.

OTHER POSSIBILITY: Kansas City

POSSIBLE OPPONENTS

FIRST ROUND

VERMONT CATAMOUNTS

Record: 29-5 (16-0 America East)

History with WVU? No.

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat Albany 56-53 in the America East final yesterday.

Many media outlets predict that WVU will be taking on Vermont this coming weekend. The Catamounts are this year’s Stephen F. Austin. They are currently riding a 21 game win streak (the highest active streak in Division I) and they run a 10 man rotation. This would be a very dangerous matchup for the Mountaineers.

PRINCETON TIGERS

Record: 23-6 (14-0 Ivy)

History with WVU? Yes. Princeton leads the series 2-0. The Tigers beat WVU 68-57 in the 1967 NCAA East Quarterfinals (the tournament only had 23 teams back then)

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat Yale 71-59 in the Ivy League final early today.

Princeton would also not be that fun. The Tigers are riding a long winning streak of their own (17 games). Princeton isn’t quite as deep as WVU, but they do have a few scorers. Their core four (Spencer Weisz, Devin Cannady, Steven Cook, Myles Stephens) carry the team.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE BUCCANEERS

Record: 27-7 (14-4 Southern)

History with WVU? Yes. WVU leads the series 2-0. Most recently, the Mountaineers beat the Bucs 110-59 in Morgantown on December 14, 1996.

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat UNC Greensboro 79-74 in the Southern final on Monday.

The Bucs aren’t quite as intimidating as Vermont and Princeton. They played Dayton and Tennessee tough, but the rest of their schedule is kind of a bore. TJ Cromer is the guy to look out for for ETSU.

NEVADA WOLF PACK

Record: 28-6 (14-4 Mountain West)

History with WVU? No.

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat Colorado State 79-71 in the Mountain West final yesterday.

The Wolf Pack lost at Saint Mary’s and beat Oregon State and Washington (who didn’t?). They run a six man rotation, so I’d imagine that they’d be easy to out-work.

UNC WILMINGTON SEAHAWKS

Record: 29-5 (15-3 CAA)

History with WVU? No.

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat the College of Charleston 78-69 in the CAA final on Monday.

The Seahawks were actually under consideration for an at-large bid after they started the season 20-2. However, they lost 3 of 5 games to start the month of February and that talk died off. Still, a 29-5 record is still very impressive. UNCW runs a seven man rotation led by leading scorer CJ Bryce. This would be an intriguing matchup similar to Vermont or Princeton.

BUCKNELL BISON

Record: 26-8 (15-3 Patriot)

History with WVU? Yes. WVU leads the series 8-0. The most recent meeting was on January 3, 1977 in Morgantown. The Mountaineers won 112-71.

Clinched NCAA bid? Yes. Beat Lehigh 81-65 in the Patriot League final on Wednesday.

The Bison run a ten man rotation, which means WVU would have to probably play a full 40 minutes to beat this team. Zach Thomas and Nana Follund lead Bucknell in scoring. The Bison know how to play Power 5 talent, beating Vanderbilt 75-72 in Nashville back in November.

OTHER POSSIBLE OPPONENTS: New Mexico State, Kent State, Winthrop, Rhode Island

SECOND ROUND

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

Record: 24-9 (11-7 Big Ten)

History with WVU? Yes. Series tied 2-2. Most recently, Minnesota beat WVU in the 2010 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Clinched NCAA bid? No, but is definitely locked in as an at-large bid.

Rich Pitino’s Gophers have rebounded spectacularly after starting the season 15-7. In the month of February, Minnesota won seven straight games including a road upset at Maryland and an overtime win over Michigan. Their run made the lackluster Big Ten exciting. This would be a really fun matchup in the second round for the Mountaineers.

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS

Record: 22-10 (11-7 ACC)

History with WVU? You better believe it! Most recently, back in December in Charlottesville.

Clinched NCAA bid? No, but is definitely locked in as an at-large bid.

All I have to say about UVA is this. If WVU can score against them, then they can win.

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

Record: 25-7 (14-4 Big Ten)

History with WVU? Yes. Purdue leads the series 7-1. Both teams would play each other in the middle of conference season from 2010-2014.

Clinched NCAA bid? No, but is definitely locked in as an at-large bid.

The Boilers would be a great matchup for WVU. Purdue ran their way through the shaky Big Ten schedule. Caleb Swanigan is certainly the guy to look out for in this matchup, considering he’s probably going to the NBA Draft this summer.

SMU MUSTANGS

Record: 29-4 (17-1 American)

History with WVU? No.

Clinched NCAA bid? No. Will play Cincinnati in the American final today (3:15 PM ET on ESPN). Will probably be an at-large team regardless of result.

Despite their soft schedule (including a win against Pitt, HAHAHAHA), the Mustangs are a very dangerous team. They’re not a particularly deep team, but they have some guys who can score. Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown are the players to look out for here.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES: Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Florida