OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Outside of winning four games in the next three days, West Virginia figures to be in high-anxiety mode when the NCAA regional field is announced Monday.
That rankles TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle.
“They’ve earned the right to be in the NCAA tournament, regardless of what happens in this tournament,” he said. “I kind of take it personally that anyone would even consider that they aren’t worthy.”
On Thursday night Schlossnagle’s team beat the Mountaineers for a fourth straight time, 6-2, a loss that dropped WVU (28-25) into the Big 12 elimination bracket and clouded its postseason hopes.
Only Schlossnagle didn’t think there should be anything cloudy about West Virginia’s resumé. He viewed an RPI that began the day at 28 (and fell to 31 after the TCU loss) as ample justification the Mountaineers belong in the NCAAs.
“I still think they’re going to get in,” he said. “In my mind, they’ve already earned their way in.”
Of course, there’s nothing unusual about coaches advocating for their conference peers, and Schlossnagle’s longstanding friendship with West Virginia’s Randy Mazey further colors his thinking, no doubt. Yet the TCU coach seemed concerned the Big 12’s perception may suffer from being only a 10-team league.
Schlossnagle said in other major conferences—specifically referencing the ACC and SEC—a sixth-place team like West Virginia sporting a top-30 RPI would be a shoo-in for the NCAA field.
The Mountaineers, who haven’t reached an NCAA regional since 1996, could erase all doubt by winning the Big 12 championship this weekend. That would require beating Baylor on Friday, winning two games over TCU on Saturday and then beating the survivor of Oklahoma State, Texas or Oklahoma in Sunday’s title game.
Whether or not WVU can pull off those four wins in 72 hours, Mazey said his team deserves a berth in the national field: “I think everybody out there thinks that we deserve to keep playing.”