By: Franklin Markel
The November games started to give fans an idea of what this West Virginia team can truly do. They opened the season getting shell shocked by Texas A&M in Germany, but since that loss, they’ve gone on to win six games and win the Advocare Invitational in Disney World. Jevon Carter has proven the hype is real and shown why he is one of the best players in the college game.
His biggest pre-season question was his scoring, and he’s answered that with a resounding yes. If he can continue to score like he is now, he should expect a lot of hardware this award season. Daxter Miles Jr has shown improvement on both ends of the floor and has looked like a deadly scoring threat in certain games. The young guys, like Konate, Harris, and West, continue to have growing pains but the key is they’re growing. The Mountaineers handled the first month pretty well and here’s what they have to look forward to in December.
Virginia: December 5th, Morgantown, West Virginia
The Virginia Cavaliers come into Morgantown for the back end of a home and home series. Last year the Mountaineers won in Charlottesville against the (at the time) undefeated Cavaliers. This season the game heads to Morgantown and again Virginia brings in a undefeated November record. Both of these teams rely on defense and Virginia recently held Wisconsin to 37 points. The team leader in scoring is Kyle Guy who averages 16 points per game this season. The 6 foot 3 sophomore gets a outstanding 30 minutes per game. He is the star on a Virginia team that really struggles otherwise to score. Sophomore Ty Jerome is a deadly shooter who sees most of his time in the backcourt with Guy, both hitting about 40% of their three point attempts. Devon Hall has quietly dropped 11.9 points per game and is another great shooter. But even with great shooting, they have trouble putting points on the board. The Frontcourt is led by Isaiah Wilkins who averages 8 points and 7 rebounds per game. This is a great matchup for West Virginia. Both teams play great defense and both struggle to score at times but Virginia struggles more.
PREDICTION: WVU 73, UVA 58
Pitt: December 9th, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Backyard Brawl is back! The Mountaineers reopen the rivalry with Pitt and head to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. Pitt has gotten off to a rough start this season. They are 3-4, and recently lost at home to Montana. The Panthers are also young, only three players on the roster saw any playing time last season and five players transferred from last season’s team. One of the returning players is senior Ryan Luther. He is getting his first full season of starts and in about 31 minutes per game he averages 13 points and nine rebounds. Northwest Florida State transfer Jared Wilson-Frame averages 14.5 points per game as a point-forward for the Panthers. Samson George had a rocky start to his college career at Iona with eligibility issues that found him transferred to Pitt within a week. He was one of the top prep recruits and has had issues so far, he’s only seen the floor once this season and it was a one-point effort. Pitt basketball is in a rough spot but with all the young players they can only get better. This game shouldn’t be close on paper, with that said, emotions will be high and the road atmosphere is going to be rough for the Mountaineers, if Pitt can actually fill the seats.
PREDICTION: WVU 89, PITT 72
Coppin State: December 20th, Morgantown, West Virginia
To be completely honest, Coppin State is not good. They have yet to win a game this season, and they have losses against teams like Central Connecticut. WVU has already hosted a team from the MEAC, Morgan State, which resulted in a 111-48 Mountaineer Win. Coppin State, under new coach Juan Dixon, is reliant on defense. They fail to score points averaging only 54 per game. Sophomore Guard Dejuan Clayton leads the team in scoring, with 10 points per game. He is the only player that can get anywhere near double digits. Mountaineers takes this one easily.
PREDICTION: WVU 103, CSU 46
Fordham: December 23rd, Morgantown, West Virginia
Fordham, out of the A10, is off to a 2-3 start this season. The one Power 6 team they’ve played was Florida State, where Fordham took a 20 point loss. Fordham is projected to finish last in the Atlantic Ten a year after going 7-11 in conference play. Jeff Neubauer, the coach, is now in his second year in the Bronx and the Rams lost the team’s best player, Christian Sengfelder, to Boise State. Because of all the losses this offseason, Joseph Chartouny was the team leader heading into the season. He might have lost that status thanks to Will Tavares, who has led the team in scoring for four of the first five games and led the team in rebounds for all five. This is a questionable Fordham team. If things go right they can win around 18 games, but there nowhere close to Huggins Mountaineers.
PREDICTION: WVU 100, FU 56
West Virginia has a tough early December, facing some ACC teams. I think both ACC games are very winnable and they should be undefeated this month. The back end of the month is definitely easier. The mountaineers should have one loss heading into Big 12 play versus Oklahoma State on December 29th.