Team of the Day: West Virginia
21-9 (10-7 Big East)
Computer numbers (courtesy of kenpom.com): RPI 41, SOS 57
It's been said for a couple of weeks now: in order to determine the Mountaineers' NCAA Tournament hopes, you have to evaluate who they beat in their nine Big East wins. Until Monday's home win over Pittsburgh, WVU had only one win against a team either equal to or ahead of them in the conference standings (Marquette on January 6th). Thus the nine conference wins going into the second round of the "Backyard Brawl" (the hardwood version) were scoffed at by many a pundit. The win tonight adds a little substance West Virginia's conference profile, and they've also got one of the hotter players in the country in Joe Alexander. The sophomore forward has now gone for 32 points in consecutive games, and the finale at St. John's could push Bob Huggins' squad into the tournament with a win.
On the clock: Ohio State. The loss at Minnesota now has the Buckeyes in serious trouble in regards to returning to the NCAA Tournament. But luckily for Thad Matta and his team, a huge opportunity comes to town in the form of first-place Purdue. A win keeps the Bucks alive, while you have to think that a loss would then require a Big Ten Tournament title in order to go dancing.