As we head into 2023, the rifle team is a national contender again at #5 in the country, men’s basketball just jumped to #24, and the gymnastics team is starting the year at #32. Let’s take a look at January’s biggest games for WVU athletics.
Honorable Mention: Wrestling at #21 Pittsburgh (January 8th)
The West Virginia wrestling team has two matches against ranked opponents this month and one is against #21 Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers are receiving votes in the national rankings, so a win over the Panthers could push them into the top 25.
5. #32 Gymnastics at #2 Florida (January 6th)
The #32 West Virginia gymnastics team starts the 2023 season with a tough road match at #2 Florida. The Mountaineers will also compete against Ball State and Lindenwood while in Gainesville. WVU went 13-5 last year and finished in third place at the Big 12 Championship, which was the team’s highest finish since 2017.
4. #24 Men’s Basketball vs #12 Baylor (January 11th)
This men’s basketball game is one that some West Virginia fans have had circled for months. This home game for #24 WVU against #12 Baylor will be former Mountaineer Jalen Bridges’ first game back in the WVU Coliseum, after leaving his team and his state for BU. A contributor factor to his exit was his inability to take criticism from WVU fans, which should not bode well for his return. It’s possible that the soft forward “accidentally” misses the flight to Morgantown.
3. #5 Rifle at #2 Alaska – Fairbanks & vs #3 Kentucky (January 13th-14th)
The #5 West Virginia rifle team is 10-1 after the fall portion of the schedule. The Mountaineers will start the spring portion of the schedule on the road at #2 Alaska-Fairbanks, where they will also face #3 Kentucky. These three teams, and TCU, faced off in November in the WVU Fall Classic. The Mountaineers defeated the Nanooks and Wildcats, but lost to the Horned Frogs. Hopefully WVU will defeat UA-Fairbanks and UK again in this match.
2. #24 Men’s Basketball vs #6 Texas (January 21st)
The #24 WVU men’s basketball team is playing nine games in January. Six of those games are against ranked opponents and one is against a team that is receiving votes. That shows how intense the Big 12 Conference schedule is in men’s basketball. There are no nights off, including this matchup between the Mountaineers and #6 Texas. The Longhorns are 12-1, with notable nonconference wins over #10 Gonzaga and Creighton. WVU will need to win home games like this one if they want to contend for a conference title. This game will be nationally televised on an ESPN network.
1. #24 Men’s Basketball vs #4 Kansas (January 7th)
The biggest game of the month for WVU athletics is the men’s basketball team’s Big 12 matchup against #4 Kansas. The Jayhawks look like a potential Final Four team, with forward Jalen Wilson and guard Gradey Dick leading the way. The #24 Mountaineers have been led by their transfers, including fifth-year senior Erik Stevenson, senior forward Tre Mitchell, and senior guard Joe Toussaint, who are all averaging over 10 points per game.
The WVU students could potentially have a field day heckling Gradey Dick, so hopefully they can get in the freshman’s head. This big-time matchup will be streamed on Big 12 Now 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!