West Virginia Basketball and Pittsburgh both finished last in their respective conferences, but in 2019 expect the Mountaineers to be the more improved team.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Virginia beat Texas Tech for the national title but, another college basketball season is quickly approaching and it is time to start taking a look at how teams shape up for the 2019-20 season. The first team comparison I want to make is between two teams that are coming off equally disappointing years, West Virginia Basketball out of the Big 12 and the Pittsburgh Panthers out of the ACC. Looking at the two squads heading into the season, I believe that the Mountaineers will have a better bounce-back season.
West Virginia had an unaccustomed season under Bob Huggins, finishing last in the Big 12 with a 4-14 record in the conference and just 15-21 overall. You could tell early on that last season may not be a typical one for a Huggins coached team. They began the year 5-2, with the two losses coming at the hands of two mid-major teams that popular picks to do damage in the NCAA Tournament, Buffalo and Western Kentucky. But, it wasn’t just the two losses, even in the wins, it didn’t feel like Mountaineer basketball, not only did they score 88 or more points in five of those games, they also gave up at least 72 in five of them, which was uncharacteristic for West Virginia. The defense never really recovered, going just 10-19 the rest of the way.
In the ACC, the Panthers were led by a familiar face to the conference, former Duke guard Jeff Capel. In his first season, Capel finished tied with Notre Dame for last in the conference with identical 14-19 records and just three league wins out of 18 chances. Like West Virginia, they got off to a good start, 7-1, but then lost to Niagara and the Mountaineers, before going just 7-16 the rest of the way.
On first examination of these teams, Pittsburgh might seem like the squad with more upside for 2019-20, but here are three reasons I believe it will be West Virginia that has the better season.