The West Virginia men’s and women’s basketball teams have worked their way into the top-20 in the national polls, and the WVU rifle team remains near the top nationally. The Mountaineer wrestling team is also looking to take advantage of its opportunities this season. With that in mind, here are the top five games for WVU athletics in January!
Honorable Mention: Wrestling at #9 Oklahoma State (January 17)
Big 12 competition will be tough for the West Virginia wrestling team this season, and the first conference match of the year will reflect that, as the Mountaineers visit #9 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are currently 5-1, with their only loss coming from #10 Lehigh in a close, 20-21, match. WVU has momentum heading into the January, after gaining three wins in the Mountaineer Quad to improve to 3-5. A win in this matchup could help WVU continue that momentum as Big 12 competition continues. Mountaineer fans can watch WVU take on Oklahoma State on ESPN+.
5. #16 Men’s Basketball vs #22 Texas Tech (January 11 & 29)
The #16 West Virginia men’s basketball team gained a huge, resume-building win over #2 Ohio State in December. Now, the Mountaineers are heading into January with momentum, and they are going to need it, as this month will include the beginning of Big 12 play and the Big 12/SEC Challenge. As conference play begins, WVU will face #22 Texas Tech twice in January. The Red Raiders have a 9-3 record. They suffered their three losses consecutively at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, against Iowa and Creighton, and in the Big East-Big 12 Battle, versus DePaul. Texas Tech bounced back from those losses by defeating Louisville, while the Cardinals were ranked #1 in the country, in the Jimmy V Classic. If the Mountaineers can find a way to sweep the Red Raiders this month, it could move them towards the top of the Big 12 standings and could help them solidify themselves in the nationally rankings. The first game between these two teams will be nationally televised on ESPN 2 or ESPNU, and the second matchup will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
4. Wrestling at #5 Virginia Tech (January 11)
The WVU wrestling team has been led by redshirt sophomore Noah Adams in the 197-weight class. Adams recently received his first career Big 12 Wrestler of the Week award and is currently undefeated this season. Adams and the Mountaineers have a huge matchup with #5 Virginia Tech this month. The Hokies are a national powerhouse and are currently undefeated this season. This will be the last non-conference match of the regular season for WVU and the first of two matchups against ranked opponents in January. An upset win against the Hokies would send the Mountaineers into Big 12 play on a good note. WVU fans can watch their wrestling team take on VT on ACC Network Extra.
3. #2 Rifle vs #15 Army (January 26)
The #2 West Virginia rifle team finished the first half of the regular season with a 7-0 record. Every win for the Mountaineers has been against a ranked opponent, and all seven of WVU’s previous opponents remain ranked in the top ten nationally. The Mountaineers have been led by senior Milica Babic and newcomer Akihito Shimizu. After travelling to Tokyo to face the All-Japan University Team, WVU will host #15 Army (West Point). The Black Knights appears to have struggled this season, since they are currently 1-2, but they have been competitive in all of their matches and their national ranking reflects that. Hopefully the Mountaineers will continue their undefeated season and continue their path to the NCAA Championships.
2. #19 Women’s Basketball at #6 Baylor (January 18)
The #19 West Virginia women’s basketball team finished the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule with a 10-1 record. The Mountaineers have been led by redshirt junior Kysre Gondrezick and redshirt senior Tynice Martin. Gondrezick is averaging 17 points and four rebounds per game, and Martin is averaging 15 points and four rebounds per game. During the first half of the season, WVU gained a few resume-building wins over #10 Mississippi State, #19 Michigan State, and Syracuse. The Mountaineers will have another opportunity to prepare for the postseason when they face #6 Baylor this month. The Lady Bears are currently 10-1 and have a couple of wins over ranked opponents. This game will definitely be important in the Big 12 standings, if WVU and Baylor continue on the paths that they are on this year. This matchup will also be nationally televised on FS1.
1. #16 Men’s Basketball vs #3 Kansas (January 4)
It’s no secret that the #16 WVU men’s basketball team has been led by their two dominant big men. Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe is averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game and sophomore Derek Culver is averaging 11 points and nine rebounds per game. Tshiebwe has five double doubles this season for WVU and Culver has three. Newcomers Miles “Deuce” McBride and Sean McNeil have also been playing well for the Mountaineers. McBride led the team with 21 points in the win over #2 Ohio State at the inaugural Cleveland Classic. WVU has a chance to get back-to-back wins against teams ranked in the top three nationally when they travel to Lawrence to begin Big 12 play and face the #3 Kansas Jayhawks, making this the biggest game for Mountaineer athletics this month. KU is currently 10-2, but has a 1-2 record against ranked opponents this year. Kansas leads the all-time series with WVU, 12-5, and the Jayhawks won two of the three meetings last season. If Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers can win their first game in Allen Fieldhouse, it come help move them even further up in the national polls and help them start Big 12 competition on the right foot. This game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
With all of these matchups against ranked opponents, 2020 could start with excitement for West Virginia athletics and Mountaineer fans. Tune in to these games to see how the Mountaineers perform on the national stage.