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Top Five Games for Mountaineer Athletics in December

Nonconference matchups against ranked opponents highlight this month’s top games.

NCAA Basketball: Rhode Island at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Winter sports are in full swing at West Virginia and that means big matchups in the month of December! Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be facing ranked non-conference opponents this month, and the WVU wrestling team will be facing its biggest rival. Let’s take a look at the top five game for Mountaineer athletics in December.

5. Men’s Basketball at St. John’s (December 7)

The West Virginia men’s basketball team had a solid showing, as it won the 2019 Cancun Challenge last week. The Mountaineers came back to defeat Northern Iowa and then knocked off Wichita State to win the Cancun Challenge. WVU will have another interesting nonconference matchup this month when the Mountaineers travel to New York City to face St. John’s in the inaugural Big East/Big 12 Battle. The Red Storm is currently 6-2, and recently played in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. This game will be played in Madison Square Garden, which will add to the nostalgia of WVU playing an old Big East opponent. The game will also be nationally televised on FS1.

4. #23 Women’s Basketball at the Florida Sunshine Challenge vs #19 Michigan State and vs Syracuse (December 21-22)

The West Virginia women’s basketball team recently fell out of the top 25 and currently holds a 5-1 record. The Mountaineers will have two great opportunities to build their resume for this season when they travel to Orlando to play in the Florida Sunshine Challenge. This weekend event will put WVU up against two non-conference opponents that have been ranked this year, #19 Michigan State and Syracuse. Michigan State is currently 6-1, with a big win over previously ranked Notre Dame. Syracuse holds a 4-3 record, with two of its losses coming from teams that were ranked in the top-three nationally when they played. These neutral site games against tough opponents will give the Mountaineers a chance the build their postseason resume and gain experience in an environment similar to the national tournament.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 09 Big 12 Conference Women’s Championship - West Virginia v Kansas State Photo by David Stacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

3. Wrestling vs #10 Pitt (December 5)

The West Virginia wrestling season is off to a rough start. WVU struggled at the Hokie Open and the Mountaineer Invitational, and then suffered two losses to Northern Colorado and #21 Army. The Mountaineers have a chance to get the season back on track this week, and who better to get their first win against than #10 Pitt. The Panthers have started the year 2-1 with wins over Campbell and #13 Lehigh, and a loss to #8 Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore, and West Virginia native, Noah Adams has been the standout Mountaineer in the early part of this season. Adams has ten straight wins individually at 197 pounds and was WVU’s lone individual weight class winner against #21 Army. Adams and the Mountaineers can start to get the 2019-20 season on track if they can defeat their rival at home this week. The matches will be streamed on Mountaineer TV.

2. Women’s Basketball at #10 Mississippi State (December 8)

The WVU women’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season to Creighton at the Cancun Challenge on Thanksgiving. The Mountaineers bounced back to defeat New Mexico the following day, and now they are preparing to face #10 Mississippi State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Sunday. Mississippi State started the year 8-0 and narrowly lost its most recent game against Stanford in the Greater Victoria Invitational. WVU has been led by redshirt junior guard Kyrse Gondrezick, who is averaging over 19 points per game. Freshman forward Esmery Martinez has also been contributing to WVU’s success by scoring and leading the team in rebounds this season. A road win over this ranked opponent could help the Mountaineers get back in the national rankings. This game will be televised on ESPN’s SEC Network.

1. Men’s Basketball vs #6 Ohio State (December 29)

The WVU men’s basketball team will have another interesting non-conference matchup in December, and this game will be the biggest game for Mountaineer athletics this month. The Mountaineers will be facing #6 Ohio State in the inaugural Cleveland Classic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Buckeyes are currently undefeated with a 7-0 record. OSU has notable wins over Villanova and Cincinnati. The Buckeyes have been led by junior forward Kaleb Wesson this season. Wesson is almost averaging a double-double with 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He will have his work cut out for him when he faces WVU’s big men, freshman Oscar Tshiebwe and sophomore Derek Culver. Tshiebwe is averaging 12.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, and Culver is averaging 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. A win in this neutral site game for the Mountaineers could help them build momentum, as they head into conference play in January. This game will be nationally televised on FS1.

NCAA Basketball: Boston U at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

December is going to be full of interesting non-conference matchups against ranked opponents for the WVU basketball teams and wrestling team. Hopefully, these Mountaineer squads can collect wins in these matchups to boost their resumes and build momentum for conference play.