Do me a favor today: Ask someone to take a guess at WVU’s record against the last 20 ranked opponents. You’re free to call that a person a dirty cheater if the answer is 3-17. But that’s the truth, as you can see, and a 13-game losing streak against schools with a number next to their names will do that kind of damage.
I was kind of shocked when I discovered that Sunday. I know, I know, the Mountaineers are prone to play a lot of ranked teams in the Big 12 and the Big East and given the way Bob Huggins likes to arrange his non-conference schedule. And I know, I know, WVU hasn’t been all that great of late — in fact, the Mountaineers have been ranked just once in those matchups.
But I find it extremely hard to believe a Huggins-led team hasn’t won any of the past 13 and more of the past 20. Call me naive, but it’s difficult to accept.
Slightly less frequent is a ranked visitor in non-conference play. No. 20 Gonzaga — leading the nation in field goal and 3-point shooting percentage, by the way — is just the sixth ranked non-conference team to play in the Coliseum since the turn of the century.
No. 7 Tennessee won by a point in 2000, thanks in no small part to a very questionable traveling call on Calvin Bowman and whistled by Timothy Higgins. Since then, the Mountaineers have won five in a row in the Coliseum against ranked non-conference teams.
Average crowd: 13,692. Range: 11,139 to 15,033.
You see where this is going, and perhaps WVU did, too, by offering $10 tickets for the 9 p.m. game on ESPN2. In so many ways, whether to end a losing streak or to extend a winning streak, to prove themselves to themselves or to their fans, the Mountaineers need this one.
“I need it for my psyche,” he said from a blue seat on the baseline Monday afternoon. “I’m tired of walking in here and seeing so many empty seats.”