Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
Here are the sunny opinions du jour.
- West Virginia University is a shoo-in for the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
After an up-and-down-and-all-around season, the Mountaineers finally got their act together. It all started with a tremendous effort during a 76-74 loss at Kansas. From an NCAA Tournament stand-point that was like a victory over any other opponent.
Next, WVU defeated Iowa State, 72-69, at Ames, Iowa. That victory was the linch-pin for the Mountaineers’ NCAA tourney hopes. It really didn’t matter if WVU defeated Kansas State in the final regular-season game in Morgantown, but the Mountaineers left nothing to chance and beat K-State, 89-81.
That combination was enough to cinch an NCAA tourney berth for WVU.
And rightfully so.
Oh, sure, WVU (18-13) still has to compete in the Big 12 Championship Tournament in Kansas City, taking on Texas Tech (16-15) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. And, yes, a win or two in the Big 12 tourney would be nice.
But either way, the Mountaineers are in the “Big Dance.”
Who will they play? Ah, that’s where it gets veeeeery interesting. Projections have the Mountaineers squaring off with the University of Kentucky in opening-round play.
If that happens, the irony is positively delicious. Imagine a matchup with Keddy Johnson and Emmitt Matthews Jr., playing against their former WVU teammate Oscar Tschiebwe, who now is an All-American for the Wildcats.
That’s why they call it “March Madness.”
- Is Marshall’s basketball season over?
But it might be on life-support. No. 2 seed Louisiana (25-7) played No. 8 South Alabama (19-15) on Monday night in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. The winner advances to the NCAA Tournament.
Ah, there’s the rub. If South Alabama loses to the favored Ragin’ Cajuns, would the NIT take the Jags with a 19-16 record or the Thundering Herd with a 24-8 record and a rabid fan-base?
That’s a very interesting question.
- Bryce Ford-Wheaton showed up at the NFL Combine.
And then some.
The former WVU star wide receiver stunned everyone with his very surprising performance. For example, he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, which tied Ford-Wheaton for fourth-place out of 43 participants.
Not bad for a 6-foot-4, 221-pound wideout, huh?
Then, Ford-Wheaton turned in a 41-inch vertical leap that tied him for first with SMU’s Rashee Rice among 40 competitors.
A wide receiver with 4.38 speed and a 41-inch vertical leap, who stands 6-4 and weighs 221 pounds?
My guess is Ford-Wheaton’s draft stock just shot up the charts.
- Marshall’s softball team is putting on a show.
In fact, the Herd never had won 14 of its first 17 games to open a season in the 30-year history of the program — until now.
An 8-1 win over Kent State on Saturday at Dot Hicks Field clinched that land-mark.
The heroes were the usual suspects. Pitcher Sydney Nester whiffed a season-high 14 batters in a complete-game performance. Her nine wins and 95 strikeouts are tied for first-place in the country.
Then, there’s catcher Autumn Owen, who has pounded an NCAA-leading 10 home runs. The catcher added a three-run blast to her resume on Saturday. Besides that, Owen is hitting for a robust .510 batting average to lead the Sun Belt Conference.
The game might be softball, but there’s nothing soft about the Herd’s performances.