The West Virginia Mountaineers (8-9, 1-3) are teetering on the edge of missing the NCAA tournament come March and head coach Bobby Huggins knows it. After West Virginia's 79-52 loss last game versus Purdue, Huggins apologized to the university, the fan base and the state of West Virginia for the struggles that his young team has encountered thus far. If the Mountaineers and are going to right the ship in any way, it starts with Texas Christian University.
The Horned Frogs will make their first ever trip to Morgantown on Wednesday night when they look to secure their first Big 12 victory against West Virginia. Texas Christian (9-9, 0-5) currently sits at the bottom of the conference with mediocre non-conference wins over Navy, Rice and Mississippi Valley State. Much like its counterpart, TCU is also experiencing growing pains with first-year head coach Trent Johnson all while trying to make the transition from the Mountain West Conference into the Big 12 conference.
Though TCU can point fingers at a new conference and new coach as the culprits for its mid-season demise, the Horned Frogs aren't necessarily known for quality basketball teams. According to Gold and Blue Zone, their last NCAA tournament appearance came in 1998 when TCU won its last regular season conference title as members of the Western Athletic Conference.
On the other hand, West Virginia is no stranger to post-season success. The Mountaineers are looking to make their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and have a 2010 trip to the Final Four under their belt. Unfortunately, West Virginia may be sitting at home during March Madness if it cannot start winning ball games, and there is not better time to start than the present.
If the Mountaineers are able to defend home court against the Frogs, it won't impress the committee, but it would put West Virginia at 9-9 and 2-3 in conference. But a win over TCU might be difficult unless junior forward Aaric Murray and senior forward Deniz Kilicli use their size and athleticism against a smaller and relatively weaker lineup in Texas Christian. Murray leads the team in rebounds (6.8) and averages just under 10 points a game. Kilicli has found himself sitting in the dog house for what Huggins calls "being soft."
Undoubtedly, TCU will look to sophomore guard Kyan Anderson to be a spark plug for the Frogs. Anderson leads his team in scoring with 11.4 points a game. Senior guard Garlon Green is second on the team with 10.9 points a game. The TCU guards should look for their shot early and often if they hope to pull of an upset in Morgantown, but coach Huggins' mix of stingy man-to-man defense and 2-3 zone won't allow Anderson or Green to find any rhythm.
Final Verdict: West Virginia 64, TCU 56
Wednesday night's game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. eastern with Bob Wischusen and Stephen Bardo on the call.