West Virginia Men's Basketball 2012 NCAA Tournament Capsule

West Virginia Mountaineers
Big East Conference (19-13, 9-9)

What can be said about the West Virginia Mountaineers that cannot also be said about sledding? Sure, sledding is fun sometimes, but it is a very average outdoor activity. Sledding success depends much on mitigating circumstances rather than the activity itself: the hill location and measurements, the equipment used and the weather. If you aren’t familiar with your sledding whereabouts (are playing on the road), it is much less likely you will have a good time (win). If your sled is worn or, even worse, brand new and uncomfortable (freshmen-heavy), it cannot be relied upon to improve your experience. And if there is not enough snow on the ground and the weather is against you (playing a talented opponent), chances are you will go home disappointed. West Virginia basketball is an afternoon of sledding and I am not sure how to feel about this.

Big Wins: 12/10 Miami (77-66), 1/7 Georgetown (74-62), 1/21 Cincinnati (77-74)
Bad Losses: 11/15 Kent State (60-70), 1/25 at St. John’s (62-78), 1/30 Pittsburgh (66-72)
Coach: Bob Huggins (5 seasons at West Virginia)

Why They Can Surprise:
With that said, West Virginia basketball is able to win games because they have two bona fide Big East stars on their roster in senior forward Kevin Jones and senior guard Truck Bryant. Although they have always been solid players, this season has been a coming out party, especially for Jones. Upon getting starters minutes his sophomore and junior seasons, Jones was a slightly above average producer and scorer. During his senior year, he incrementally jumped his points per game and rebounding production to go along with getting to the free throw line more often. Although he is not an outside shooter, the rest of his shooting splits have also taken an uptick, making him one of the contenders for conference Player of the Year. Meanwhile, Bryant has seen his production steadily increase because of an increase in playing time from his previous seasons. He is still not an efficient shooter but he has had nine different games this season where he’s scored at least 20 points while making at least seven field goals, proving he is the definitive second option for a team in the postseason.

Why They Can Disappoint:
While the Mountaineers have two stars that play close to 38 minutes per game apiece, their regular season went the way it did for a reason. They have very little bench scoring and no other experience outside of their two seniors. Six of West Virginia’s top nine players in minutes per game are freshmen. With that level of inexperience playing so many minutes of game action, mistakes are bound to be made and Bob Huggins can do little to prevent it. In addition, with the exception of Jones, WVU has no inside presence on offense or defense. Jones is a great rebounder and solid shot-blocker. No one else on the roster can be considered either of those superlatives. Just as no one is really ever blown away when a friend suggests everyone go sledding, not many people are going to be head over heels for this club in March, for better or for worse.

Probable Starters:
Darryl Bryant, Senior, Guard, 17.2 ppg, 2.8 apg
Jabarie Hinds, Freshman, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg
Keaton Miles, Freshman, Forward, 1.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Kevin Jones, Senior, Forward, 20.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Deniz Kilicli , Junior, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Gary Browne, Freshman, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 3.0 apg
Aaron Brown, Freshman, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Dominique Rutledge, Junior, Forward, 1.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.8 (86th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.0 (141, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (125, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.4 (237, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (236, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.7 (268, 13)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (246, 14)
Rebound Margin: 6.5 (19, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (41, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (122, 9)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
West Virginia        2011    NCAA        Round of 64 win over Clemson
West Virginia        2011    NCAA        Round of 32 loss to Kentucky
West Virginia        2010    NCAA        Round of 64 win over Morgan State
West Virginia        2010    NCAA        Round of 32 win over Missouri
West Virginia        2010    NCAA        Regional Semifinal win over Washington
West Virginia        2010    NCAA        Regional final win over Kentucky
West Virginia        2010    NCAA        National Semifinal loss to Duke
West Virginia        2009    NCAA        Round of 64 loss to Dayton
West Virginia        2008    NCAA        Round of 64 win over Arizona
West Virginia        2008    NCAA        Round of 32 win over Duke
West Virginia        2008    NCAA        Regional Semifinal loss to Xavier
West Virginia        2007    NIT           First Round win over Delaware State
West Virginia        2007    NIT           Second Round win over Massachusetts
West Virginia        2007    NIT           Quarterfinal win over North Carolina State
West Virginia        2007    NIT           Semifinal win over Mississippi State
West Virginia        2007    NIT           Final win over Clemson

*all team stats through 3/4

See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules