To say West Virginia’s last two games were disappointing — both of which came against the Oklahoma State Cowboys — would be an understatement. Not because the Mountaineers lost both games, which we now know had little to no effect on where they ended up in the bracket seeding, but because Bob Huggins came a hair away from notching his 900th career win on two separate occasions and his team just couldn’t get him over the hump.
Fortunately for Huggins, West Virginia has a really nice draw in the NCAA Tournament, starting here with Morehead State in the first round.
Date: Friday, March 19, 2021
Tip-Off Time: 9:50 PM ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Channel: TruTV; DirecTV 246, DISH 242
Announce Team: Lisa Byington, Steve Smith and AJ Ross
Online Streaming: If you aren’t in front of a television or just don’t have a television, the NCAA Tournament is the gift that keeps on giving with March Madness Live. This live stream will air every single game from the First Four to the National Championship Game, free of charge.
Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi and Jay Jacobs
Reminder: It is against site policy to post links to illegal streams in the comments.
ODDS (AS OF MONDAY, MARCH 15TH)
Spread: West Virginia -12.5
Where are they from? Morehead, Kentucky
Series History: This will be the fourth meeting between West Virginia and Morehead State, with the Mountaineers holding a 3-0 series advantage. West Virginia last met the Eagles on November 22, 2011 in an 83-48 beatdown at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia. The first two meetings in the series came in back-to-back seasons (1980 and 1981).
Record: 23-7 (17-3 OVC), Ohio Valley Conference tournament champions
Record in 2019-20: 13-19 (7-11 OVC)
Head Coach: Preston Spradlin (5th Season)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP
West Virginia Mountaineers: Jalen Bridges, Derek Culver, Jordan McCabe, Taz Sherman, and Miles McBride
Morehead State Eagles: Devon Cooper, Skyelar Potter, KJ Hunt, Jr., James Baker, Jr., and Johni Broome
PREDICTION THAT WILL BE WRONG
I don’t want to dismiss the Eagles as a surefire win for the Mountaineers because nothing is certain in the NCAA Tournament, but if a guaranteed win exists, it should be this game here. While it’s true that Morehead State has won 19 of their last 20 games, every single one of those wins came against teams ranked No. 159 or worse by KenPom — with the exception of Belmont, who are ranked No. 104. The Eagles only played three quality games this season (Ohio State, Clemson and Kentucky), and lost by an average of 28 points in each game.
I don’t know how much momentum the Eagles will carry into the tournament after knocking off top-seeded Belmont to win the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, but my gut and conventional wisdom tells me it won’t be enough to get the upset here.
Fourteen-seeds are 21-119 against the three-seed in the NCAA Tournament, going back to 1985, but the last time it happened featured a criminally under-seeded Stephen F. Austin shocking West Virginia in 2016.
That’s not happening again.
The Mountaineers are just flat out better than the Eagles, and it’ll be apparent on Friday night as Miles McBride and Derek Culver both have double-digit performances.
West Virginia 79, Morehead State 60
PREGAME READING & UPDATES
We’ll update this section with any important information directly related to the game but until then, follow along with us on Twitter @smokingmusket for running commentary leading up to West Virginia’s first round matchup against the Eagles on Friday night.
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