March will be a month full of interesting matchups for West Virginia athletics. Some teams are starting their seasons with games against ranked opponents, while others are heading into postseason play in positions to potential bring some hardware back to Morgantown. Let’s take a look at the top matchups in March.
Honorable Mentions: Baseball at #12 Baylor (March 22-24); Tennis vs #13 Oklahoma State (March 24); #24 Gymnastics vs #23 Ohio State, #25 Penn State, and #27 NC State (March 17)
Baseball season is underway for the Mountaineers. West Virginia is coming off of a nice win against Towson in a game where the Mountaineers were able to dominate offensively and come away with an 8-3 victory. Following the win against Towson, WVU is currently 5-3 and the schedule is about to become more difficult, as the team heads into March. The Mountaineers are set visit #12 Baylor for a weekend series later this month. The Bears are currently undefeated with an 8-0 record. Last season the Mountaineers lost the series with Baylor 1-2, so they will be looking to get revenge and upset the Bears when they face off later this month.
The West Virginia women’s tennis team is off to a great start this spring. The Mountaineers are currently 6-1 with a four match winning streak. In singles, freshman Anastasia Bovolskaia and sophomore Anne-Sophie Courteau have led the way for WVU. The duos of Bovolskaia with junior Sofia Duran and Courteau with senior Abigail Rosiello have played well together this season in doubles. The Mountaineers are set to meet with a couple of ranked opponents this month, including this matchup against #13 Oklahoma State. OSU had a rough start to February with a four match losing streak, but the team bounced back to start a three match winning streak to finish the month. A win in this match against a ranked conference opponent could help push the Mountaineers into the national rankings.
The WVU gymnastics team has had an incredible season. The Mountaineers have found their way into the national rankings as a team, and many Mountaineers have been the extremely competitive in their respective events. WVU has also been one of the best teams in the Southeast region this season. March is full of matchups against ranked opponents for the WVU gymnastics team, but Senior Day will be a very tough test for the Mountaineers. For Senior Day, WVU will host three ranked opponents including #23 Ohio State, #25 Penn State, and #27 NC State. Wins against all three of these opponents will provide a huge boost for the Mountaineers as they head into the postseason.
5. Women’s Basketball in Big 12 Championship (March 8-11)
The women’s team has definitely been the better of the two WVU basketball teams this season. The Mountaineers are currently 19-8 and receiving votes in the national rankings. When they regular season concludes, WVU will head to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Championship.
The Mountaineers are currently fourth in the Big 12 standings behind #1 Baylor, #20 Iowa State, and #18 Texas. WVU will likely need to make a run in the conference tournament because the Mountaineers are currently one of the “First Four Out” in ESPN’s Bracketology. If WVU is able to reach the semifinals and finals of the Big 12 Championship, Mountaineer fans will be able to watch the team on national television on FS1.
4. #24 Gymnastics in Big 12 Championship (March 23)
One week after WVU wraps up the regular season, the team will travel to Norman, Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship. The conference is very competitive in gymnastics with all four teams being nationally ranked. National powerhouse, Oklahoma, leads the way in the #1 spot in the national rankings, Denver is currently ranked #6, WVU is #24, and Iowa State is #29. The Mountaineers will need their top performers to step up in the Big 12 Championship. Senior Kirah Koshinski currently ranks #7 on vault and #10 on floor, senior Jaquie Tun ranks #25 on floor, and junior Abby Kaufman currently ranks #48 in the all-around. These three and others have helped the team tremendously this season. If WVU can come away with the conference title, it could provide a great momentum boost as the Mountaineers head towards nationals.
3. Baseball at #3 Oregon State (March 1-3)
The Mountaineer baseball team is heading to the west coast this weekend to face the defending national champions, the #3 Oregon State Beavers. Oregon State is currently undefeated this season. The Mountaineers have won four of their last five, and they will have to continue putting up runs like they did in their last game against Towson, if they want to put up a fight against the Beavers.
WVU will also need big games from their leaders. Senior center Ivan Gonzalez and senior right-fielder Darius Hill have been leading the way for the Mountaineers when batting this season. Junior pitcher Alek Manoah is also set to start in the first game of the series, so Manoah will have a chance to get a win and help the Mountaineers get the weekend started with an upset victory over the defending national champions.
2. Women’s Basketball vs #1 Baylor (March 4)
If the Mountaineers want to go from the bubble into the NCAA Tournament field, a win in this game would go a long way in making that happen. WVU will conclude the regular season by hosting the #1 Baylor Bears, a team with only one loss this season, on Senior Night. Baylor dominated WVU in their first matchup this season with the final score being 47-79.
The Mountaineers will need their leaders to step up in this game, so head coach Mike Carey will need big games from junior guard Tynice Martin and senior Naomi Davenport, who have both scored over 400 points this season. Mountaineer fans will also be able to watch this game against Baylor, as it will be nationally televised on FS1. A win in this game would be a huge tournament resume builder for WVU, and it could provide confidence and momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City.
1. #1 Rifle in NCAA Championships (March 8-9)
The #1 West Virginia rifle team is chasing the 20th national title in program history this season. WVU is coming off of an incredible performance at the GARC Championships, where the Mountaineers were able to bring home their tenth consecutive conference title and keep the undefeated season going. Now WVU returns to Morgantown to host the NCAA Championships. This is the first time in WVU school history that the nation’s premiere rifle program is hosting the NCAA Championships. The Mountaineers have been led by senior, and Olympian, Ginny Thrasher and junior Morgan Phillips. These two and three other Mountaineers shot above their season averages at the GARC Championships, so the team is building momentum as it prepares to host the NCAA Championships in the WVU Coliseum. Mountaineer fans can purchase tickets now to come and support their team next week.
The WVU baseball, gymnastics, and women’s basketball teams all have huge matchups against ranked opponents, and the Mountaineers on rifle team has a chance to win a 20th national championship in front of their home crowd in the WVU Coliseum. March is setting up to be a very exciting month for WVU athletics.