A share of the title is certain, but Kansas still has a chance to clinch the outright title on Senior (a.k.a. Christian Garrett) Night. To help prepare for our opponent, I reached out to Matt Kirchner over at The Smoking Musket, the SB Nation site covering the West Virginia Mountaineers. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: After grabbing a hard-fought win in Morgantown, West Virginia has a chance to cement a high seed and help everyone in the conference title chase by stealing one in Lawrence. However, the status of Juwan Staten will obviously play a big role. Is he expected back for the game, and how much do you think his knee will affect his play?
TSM: Both Juwan and our other senior point guard, Gary Browne, are listed as day-to-day going into the game tonight. I think that Juwan will play, but I'm assuming that Browne is out for at least the remainder of the regular season. Staten is a big loss, obviously, but part of me wants to sit him the rest of the regular season as well. We're not on the bubble any longer, and if he's not 100%, I'm not so sure if it's worth playing him with a tourney bid pretty locked in and the Big 12 regular season title relatively out of our reach.
Still, he's our leader, and if we have any chance to steal one tonight, the offense is going to have to go through him just as it did in Morgantown. It's somewhat of a double edged sword, I guess. If he's out, the offense is going to run through freshman Jevon Carter, who has been great this year, and had 25 on Saturday at Baylor.
RCT: Cliff Alexander is out due to some unknown eligibility issue. How does this affect the WVU gameplan?
TSM: I'm not sure if it makes a ton of difference to WVU's game plan, to be completely honest. We're going to try to feed Devin Williams and Jon Holton down low, especially if Staten's going to be out, and it wasn't as if Alexander had any sort of presence against WVU in Morgantown. I'll sound snarky, but I guess this lets you get those extra six minutes to someone else.
RCT: Last time we talked about how you would have preferred to get this trip out of the way earlier in the season. How excited for this game are you tonight?
TSM: It's a game in Allen Fieldhouse. It's impossible to not be pretty damn excited. I really want to make the trip someday. It's a huge opportunity for WVU to get an enormous win that's going to do wonders for our seeding if we can pull it off. Still, with the big three game winning streak, this game doesn't loom as largely as it did a few weeks ago, when it was looking that it could have been a nearly impossible must-win game for the Mountaineers.
RCT: I've heard multiple people talking about Bob Huggins for Big 12 COY and possible National COY. Do you think that is a realistic possibility? If not Huggins, who would be your choice?
TSM: Bob Huggins should be Big 12 Coach of the Year. Undoubtedly. He took a team that was a dumpster fire for two years, lost its two leading scorers to transfer and got them to 22-7 and damn near the top of the best basketball conference in the country. He should be a shoo-in and it's going to be a screw job on the levels of the GREAT JAE CROWDER OVER KEVIN JONES FOR BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR TRAVESTY of 2012.
I'm still mad about that.
Nationally, it's going to be hard to beat out Cal for the award, but Huggins definitely deserves Big 12 CoY and it's not even close.
RCT: So as much as we originally thought that teams had figured out the WVU press, it seems that only the loss of Staten in the last game could stop the Mountaineers. Do you trust the ability of this team to ride that same press to victory in Allen Fieldhouse?
TSM: I trust the press to keep this one close for a while, but I don't quite trust it to pull off a win in Allen Fieldhouse, especially with a potentially not 100% Juwan and a lack of the depth and leadership that Gary Brown provides. WVU is going to battle, and I'm going to get my hopes up when it's a four or five point game early in the second half, but KU probably wins this by around 10.
RCT: BONUS - Star Trek or Star Wars?
TSM: There is someone literally named BillyDee Williams on my team. Star Wars.
So Star Wars is just increasing its measure of domination. The Force has won out over the Federation.
A special thanks goes out to Matt for taking some time to talk with us today. Don’t forget to check my answers to his questions.