February will be a very important month for many of the athletic teams at WVU. Some of the games include top 25 matchups, conference standing implications, and even a potential undefeated regular season. Here are the top five games for Mountaineer athletics in the month of February.
Honorable Mentions: #21 Women’s Basketball vs #8 Texas (February 5) and Rifle NCAA Qualifying Match (February 17)
The first honorable mention is the women’s basketball matchup against highly ranked Texas. The two teams have already faced each other once this season in a game that Texas dominated at home, winning 79-58. That game was also the first loss of the season for the Mountaineers, snapping a 13 game win streak. WVU now has a chance to get revenge on the eighth ranked Longhorns in the Coliseum and move up in the Big 12 standings. This game will be nationally televised on FS1, so Mountaineer fans not able to make it to the Coliseum can watch this women’s basketball game before watching the men’s basketball team play later that evening.
The second honorable mention is the NCAA Qualifying Match for the WVU rifle team. The Mountaineers will be hosting this qualifying match in Morgantown, potentially giving them a “home range” advantage. The WVU rifle team still remains undefeated, and this match is crucial on its road to what could be a sixth consecutive national championship. Six consecutive national titles would tie WVU’s current record that lasted from 1988 to 1993.
5. #15 Men’s Basketball at #12 Oklahoma (February 5)
Who wouldn’t want to watch another matchup between the nation’s best offensive player and the nation’s best defensive player? Jevon Carter and the Mountaineers will again be taking on Trae Young and the Oklahoma Sooners. WVU took the first matchup, 89-76. Young did not have a double-double in this game, but two Mountaineers did. Jevon Carter had 17 points and 10 assists, and Sagaba Konate had 16 points and 13 rebounds, along with his five blocks. Teddy Allen was also the leading scorer for WVU in this game with 20 points.
A lot has changed since that first matchup. The Mountaineers have since lost four games and the Sooners have lost three. WVU and OU were also ranked sixth and seventh respectively at the time, and they are now 15th and 12th. One thing that hasn’t changed is the OU freshman Young still has the spotlight in the conference over seniors such as Carter from WVU and Devonte’ Graham from Kansas. This game will provide an opportunity for Carter to reclaim that spotlight and for the Mountaineers to gain more ground in the tight Big 12 standings. If WVU is able to steal a road win in this game, it could go a long way in their attempt to knock Kansas off of their Big 12 pedestal. This game will also be nationally televised on ESPN.
4. #1 Rifle vs #3 Kentucky (February 11)
The WVU rifle team has the chance to finish the regular season undefeated. The final match of the regular season is against Kentucky. The Wildcats are currently ranked third in the nation and only have one loss this season. With a win, this would be WVU’s third consecutive undefeated regular season. The Mountaineers have not lost a regular season match since February of 2015. WVU has been led this season by junior Ginny Thrasher, sophomore Milica Babic, and redshirt freshman David Koenders.
3. #21 Women’s Basketball at #3 Baylor (February 26)
WVU recently lost its first matchup against #3 Baylor in Morgantown in a close game that the Mountaineers were winning in the second half. Naomi Davenport led the way for WVU in that game, scoring 27 points. The Mountaineers will face the Lady Bears again this month in the regular season finale for both teams. Baylor could potentially remain undefeated in conference play leading up to this game, which would give the Mountaineers a chance to spoil their undefeated Big 12 season and senior night. This game will be nationally televised on FS1, but unfortunately it is scheduled at the same time as our next game on the list for the men’s basketball team.
2. #15 Men’s Basketball vs #10 Texas Tech (February 26)
The first matchup between West Virginia and Texas Tech was a close one that Mountaineer fans would like to forget, considering it was one of the many games this season that WVU has lost a double digit, second half lead on their way to a loss. In that first matchup, Jevon Carter led the way with 28 points, and Esa Ahmad added 18 in his first game of the season. The Mountaineers have a chance to avenge that road loss on senior night in the Coliseum.
The Red Raiders are now ranked ahead of WVU at 10th in the nation. They are also one of the teams tied with the Mountaineers for second in the Big 12 standings. A win in this second matchup against Texas Tech late in the regular season could be vital if the Mountaineers want to take the top spot in the conference away from Kansas. This game will also be highly anticipated for Mountaineer fans considering it will be the last time they can see seniors Carter and Daxter Miles, Jr. play in the Coliseum. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
1. #15 Men’s Basketball at #7 Kansas (February 17)
Kansas snapped its losing streak in the Coliseum earlier this season. Now it’s time for WVU to snap its losing streak in Allen Fieldhouse. The Mountaineers lost a heartbreaker at home to the Jayhawks in the first matchup this season in a game where WVU had a double digit lead with less than 10 minutes to play. Sagaba Konate led the way for the Mountaineers in this top 10 matchup, recording 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five unforgettable blocks.
The previous loss to KU appeared to spoil any chances the Mountaineers had of stealing the top spot in the Big 12 from the #7 Jayhawks, but that may not be the case. If WVU can steal a win on the road, it could be the difference in deciding which team will win the Big 12 Conference regular season title. This game will have huge postseason implications as well, including seeding for the conference tournament and the national tournament. It could also add to the many instant classic games that have played out between the two teams in recent years. The earlier matchup this season could be considered an instant classic for KU fans, so maybe this next game will be one for Mountaineer fans. The nation will definitely be watching this matchup, and it will be nationally televised on ESPN.
February will be another busy month for all of the Mountaineer athletic teams. Wins in these highly competitive Big 12 games this month could lead to postseason success for both of the WVU basketball teams. The rifle team also looks to continue its postseason dominance as it goes for its sixth consecutive national championship. No matter the sport, there are huge matchups for WVU fans to keep their eyes on this month.