January was a rough month for some West Virginia teams, but many were able to continue their success. The WVU rifle team maintained its undefeated record and the gymnastics team emerged as one of the nation’s top teams in the floor exercise. Let’s take a look at the biggest matchups for the Mountaineers this month!
Honorable Mention: Men’s Basketball vs #14 Texas Tech (February 5th)
No West Virginia team had a rougher month in January than the men’s basketball team. The Mountaineers went 2-7 during the month, including a six-game losing streak. WVU will have a chance to get its season back on track with this conference game against #14 Texas Tech at home. The Mountaineers lost their first matchup with the Red Raiders, 78-65, on the road. This Big 12 game will be nationally televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
5. Gymnastics at #13 Arkansas (February 4th)
Despite a recent pair of back-to-back losses to Big 12 opponents, the West Virginia gymnastics team is having a solid season. The Mountaineers have emerged as one of the nation’s top teams in the floor exercise, coming in at #8 in the country in the latest Road to Nationals Rankings. Senior Kendra Combs has led the way for the Mountaineers on floor, along with junior Abbie Pierson and sophomore Kiana Lewis. WVU starts February with a big matchup at #13 Arkansas. An upset win in this match could give the Mountaineers momentum as they prepare for a pair of Backyard Brawl matchups with Pitt later this month.
4. Wrestling at #7 Iowa State (February 4th)
The West Virginia wrestling team finished December with four straight wins, but a couple of losses in January has the team at 5-5 this season. Three Mountaineers have emerged as leaders of the team. Redshirt senior Killian Cardinale is one of the top wrestlers in the nation in the 125-pound weight class and he is on track to be an All-American again this year. Sophomore Peyton Hall has one of the top records in the country at 165 pounds. And in the heavyweight division, redshirt sophomore Michael Wolfgram has shown great improvement this season. All three of these Mountaineers were ranked in the top 25 nationally in the first NCAA coaches’ ranking. WVU starts the month with a huge match at #7 Iowa State. The meet will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
3. Women’s Basketball at #9 Baylor (February 12th)
The 2021-22 season has been a bit of a disappointment for the West Virginia women’s basketball team. WVU was ranked in the preseason top 25, but the team is now 10-8 with a 3-5 record in Big 12 play. Despite the struggles for the team, a few Mountaineers have still had good seasons, so far. Junior forward Esmery Martinez is close to averaging a double-double again, with 11.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She is also leading the team with her 37% three-point shooting average. Junior guard KK Deans is leading WVU in scoring, with 14.5 points per game. She is also shooting 90% from the free throw line. The Mountaineers will face #9 Baylor in their biggest game of the month. This game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
2. #3 Rifle vs #2 Kentucky (February 12th)
The #3 West Virginia rifle team is looking to win its 20th national championship, and its first since 2017, this season. The Mountaineers are currently undefeated with a 12-0 record. All of WVU’s wins have been over teams that were ranked in the top-12 nationally when they competed, which is an incredible talent level to continually face throughout the season. The Mountaineers have been led by sophomore Molly McGhin and junior Akihito Shimizu. McGhin is averaging a team-best 1181.143 aggregate score this season, thanks to her 595.143 air rifle average, which is also the best on the team. Shimizu has a strong smallbore average of 586.111, which boosts his aggregate average to 1180.667. The Mountaineers will finish the regular season with this match against #2 Kentucky. The Wildcats are 8-1 this season and they are the defending national champions. After this match, WVU will also have the NCAA Qualifying Match and the GARC Championships later this month.
1. Men’s Basketball vs #10 Kansas (February 19th)
As we said, the WVU men’s basketball team had a rough month in January. Part of that was because the Mountaineers began Big 12 competition. The Big 12 is by far the top college basketball conference this year, which has often been the case since WVU joined the league. But things don’t get easier for the Mountaineers this month. Five of WVU’s eight games in February are against ranked opponents, and a sixth opponent is receiving votes in the national polls. This game against #10 Kansas is the biggest of those games, making it the biggest game for WVU athletics this month. The Jayhawks look like they could potentially make a run to the Final Four and they handled the Mountaineers in their first matchup this season, with an 85-59 win in Lawrence. Luckily for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers, they tend to play better when they are at home. This game is also sold out, so a rowdy capacity crowd in the WVU Coliseum could help motivate the team. This game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Be sure to tune in to support WVU for these games and let us know what other matchups you are looking forward to this month!