It has been a strange ride for West Virginia, as senior De’Sean Butler has hit six game-winning shots along the way to the school’s first Final Four appearance since 1959, when Jerry West led the Mountaineers to the championship game.
On Saturday night, West Virginia will tip off against the Duke Blue Devils in a prime time semifinal matchup.
Coach K’s squad has been a streaky offensive group all tournament long. Their big three (Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith) can put points on the board in a hurry, and their tall front line, led by Brian Zoubek, can dominate the glass.
Arguably, the Mountaineers play the best defense in the country, and can match the Blue Devils with their physicality. They can create offense off their defense, as head coach Bob Huggins employs a 1-3-1 zone that has forced opponents to shoot only 33 percent from inside and 20 percent from beyond the three-point arc in this year’s tournament.West Virginia’s lengthy defenders can negate Scheyer’s love to drive to the basket off of ball screens.
Huggins never allows his team to get into a fast-paced contest with their opponents, as the Mountaineers have a difficulty in the transition game.
West Virginia is great at scoring points off missed shots, as no one in the country can hit the offensive glass like the Mountaineers. They averaged 15 offensive rebounds and have out-rebounded their opponents by 5 in every tournament game. It has been out of necessity, as West Virginia shoots only 40 percent from the field.
The Mountaineers starting lineup is comprised of players from the New York City area, and they all have the mindset of doing whatever it takes on the court to win the game.
Very little trash talking will come out of their mouth, as their style of play is no nonsense and intense. One moment they look pathetic shooting the basketball, then the next they’re making shots and getting stops on defense.
On Saturday, they must spread the Blue Devil defense out and force Duke to play individually.
If successful, then we might see the Mountaineers once again in the finals on Monday night.