West Virginia is getting pretty used to March Madness. The Mountaineers will be making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years when they face Dayton Friday in the first round of the Midwest Regional in Minneapolis.
Game times will be announced later this evening.
West Virginia (23-11) made the tournament as a six-seed after advancing to the Big East Tournament semifinals where it lost to Syracuse in overtime.
The Big East had three of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament this year (Louisville, Pitt and Connecticut) and all seven Big East teams that made the field of 65 were a six-seed or higher. Big East regular season and tournament champion Louisville was the No. 1 overall seed.
I think thats right. I think we have had three of the four best teams in the country,West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.I think the league is so good at the top and we get seven teams in like a lot of other people do, but probably if our league isnt as good as it is we probably get more. The top was so good that they just beat up on everybody.
The West Virginia-Dayton winner will face the Kansas-North Dakota State winner in the second round on Sunday.
The winner of the Minneapolis, Miami and Dayton first-round games will move on to the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis, March 27-29. Top-seeded Louisville, second-seeded Michigan State and fourth-seeded Wake Forest are the top-seeded teams in this region along with third-seeded Kansas.
Huggins sees this as a wide-open tournament.
You look at what happens in our league and you look at who beats who. Take a look at the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State is a two and they dont make the finals,Huggins said.The hard thing is it is six games, not one game. Playing in our league and playing who we play day-in and day-out, I think it really helps us.
Dayton (26-7) was knocked out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament by Duquesne, 77-66, Friday night. West Virginia and Daytons common opponents this year included Delaware State, Marquette, Marshall, Miami (Ohio) and Duquesne.
Chris Wright, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, is Daytons top player averaging 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Flyers have played several close games this year and are outscoring their opponents by an average of six points per game.
Daytons good,said Huggins.Ive seen them a couple of times on film. Theyve played some people that weve played.
Ive known Brian (Gregory) for a long time and he does a heck of a job,Huggins said.They play really, really hard. The first time I saw them was when they beat Marquette and I was impressed with how hard they played.
The last time West Virginia and Dayton faced each other was in 1998 in the San Juan Shootout in Caguas, Puerto Rico. West Virginia defeated Dayton, 96-74. The schools have met three previous times with the Flyers owning a 2-1 advantage in series play.
Bob Huggins has faced Dayton 14 times while coaching at Cincinnati and owns a 13-1 record against the Flyers.
They were in the Great Midwest with us and when Conference USA happened we ended up playing them every year for five or six years,Huggins said.
West Virginia is making its 22nd overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the second in as many years under Huggins. This is Huggins17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.