2007 West Virginia Mountaineers Basketball Preview
Last season, the West Virginia Mountaineers (27- 9 overall, 9- 7 Big East) saw action in the NIT after tying for seventh in their conference. They defeated Clemson 78- 73 to win the tournament championship. After that, longtime head coach John Beilein, a master at his craft, departed for Michigan. Enter another masterful coach, Bob Huggins (590- 211 overall in 25 years), to run the program. Huggins will continue to keep the Mountaineers highly competitive on the national stage and in college basketball betting.
Last season, the West Virginia Mountaineers played a fine ball control game, ranking first in turnovers (11.3 TPG), second in scoring defense (62.4 PPG) and first in assists (17.6 APG). The team was fifth in scoring, putting in an average of 72.5 PPG. The club was second in three-point hits, making 37.5%. The problem for the club and the NCAA basketball odds, was under the basket and off the rim. The Mountaineers rebounding margin was minus-3.4, which was 15th in the Big East.
In front, Huggins will go with athleticism so look for junior Joe Alexander (10.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 42.5 FG%) and sophomore Da’Sean Butler (10.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 48.0 FG%) to both get starts. Sophomore forward Wellington Smith (2.3 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 55.3 FG%) may become a starter. He brings versatility to the court and interest to many when they bet on college games.
In the backcourt, point guard Darris Nichols (10.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, 49.8 FG%) is a solid floor manager and shooter. He hit 42% of his three-pointers last season. Junior shooting guard Alex Ruoff (10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.3 APG, 39.7 FG%) offers points but needs to improve from downtown and on defense.
The talent looks extremely promising on this team, while Huggins will continue to cultivate a winning attitude. Over the past three seasons, the team has won an average of 26.5 games each season. Can they continue to win at that pace? Huggins will push his new team to play a more up-tempo game and bang the boards with more weight and muscle behind them. If the new coach and team work well together, the Mountaineers may get back into the March Madness odds in 2007- 2008.