MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bob Huggins confirmed West Virginia will face N.C. State at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 20, saying “we need to have a presence there.”
The recruiting grounds of New York and surrounding area are fertile, and Huggins wants to make sure West Virginia remains visible there. Since leaving the Big East for the Big 12 two seasons ago, West Virginia has only returned to the Big Apple once, to face Michigan in Barclays Center in December 2012.
“We have a great alumni base in New York and especially in New Jersey. Our fan base really enjoyed the Big East tournament,” Huggins said.
“And the game’s at a great time, right before Christmas. There’s nothing better than taking your wife shopping in New York before Christmas right?”
The Wolfpack finished 22-14 last season, squeezing into the NCAA tournament where they beat Xavier 74-59 in Dayton before losing to Saint Louis 83-80 in overtime. Sophomore forward T.J. Warren, the ACC Player of the Year and nation’s third-leading scorer at 24.9 points per game, subsequently entered the NBA draft. Another sophomore, top assist man Tyler Lewis, transferred to Butler.
But Mark Gottfried has four players with starting experience returning—a fifth if you count Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey—and three incoming recruits ranked among the nation’s top 81 prospects by Rivals.
West Virginia’s nonconference schedule features a road game at Purdue, and a three-game set at the Puerto Rico Tipoff, where the field includes UConn, Dayton, New Mexico, Texas A&M, Boston College, George Mason and College of Charleston. The Mountaineers also have a home matchup against Virginia Tech and a home game as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.