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Examining WVU's NCAA Tournament Resume

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The West Virginia University men's basketball team is beginning to fear missing out on the best experience college basketball has to offer, the NCAA Tournament. WVU has lost five of its last six games to drop its overall record to 16-10. The Mountaineers are now tied for eighth in the Big East with a 6-7 record.

Selection Sunday is less than four weeks away and many schools are becoming more and more concerned about their NCAA Tournament resumes. WVU is no different. The Mountaineers have gone from a team that appeared to be a sure bet for the tournament to a team that is approaching, if not already sitting on, the bubble.

WVU Head Coach Bob Huggins likes to play a tough schedule because it really helps in the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) rankings. That is a big number used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It takes into consideration a team's record combined with its opponents' records and their opponents' records throughout the season. That is the only reason why WVU is still believed to be in manageable shape with 10 losses.

Take a look at West Virginia's resume:

NCAA TOURNAMENT RESUME

Overall Record: 16-10
Big East Record: 6-7
*RPI Ranking: 42
*Strength of Schedule: 6
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Key Wins: Kansas State, Miami, Georgetown
Key Losses: St. John's, Kent State
*according to cbssports.com  

Let's break that down further. West Virginia has played the sixth toughest schedule in the country. The NCAA selection committee tends to evaluate some key numbers that can be corrected by the Mountaineers. Right now they have two bad losses on their resume. St. John's is currently sitting at No. 142 in the RPI rankings. Kent State is No. 92.

Winning four of their final five games should make the Mountaineers a lock in the NCAA tournament.

ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi is pretty accurate when predicting the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament. His latest bracketology has WVU listed as a 10-seed and falling. Lunardi presently pits WVU against Vanderbilt. A win would likely set up a date with Duke in the next round. That does not lend itself towards making a run in the tournament.

The good news is WVU can do something about that. The Mountaineers have five regular season games remaining before competing in the Big East tournament. There are plenty of opportunities remaining to improve that resume. Two of their final five opponents are in the RPI top 40.  Four of their final five opponents are in the RPI top 100.

Typically it is all about getting hot at the right time. The 2009-2010 WVU men's basketball team did that and won the Big East Tournament Championship before continuing on to the Final Four. The 2011-2012 Connecticut Huskies won five straight to claim the Big East Tournament Championship before continuing on to win the National Championship.

Can this team get hot enough to put a run late season run together? Ask yourself if you thought the 2010 Final Four team was primed to do the same in mid-February.

West Virginia's next chance to improve its record is Thursday night at Pitt.

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