MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After ending their 28-year drought without a conference tournament championship, are the West Virginia women also primed to end a Sweet 16 drought that dates back nearly as far?
For sure, their three-day run through the Big 12’s top teams makes West Virginia (23-10) an intriguing NCAA tournament prospect. Beating No. 2-ranked Baylor by double-digits after eliminating Texas and crushing Oklahoma shows what the Mountaineers can accomplish when they’re guarding and Tynice Martin is believing.
(WVU went 1-5 against those three teams during the regular season, including two double-digit losses to Texas and a 35-point beatdown at home against the Bears.)
After cutting down the nets in Oklahoma City, coach Mike Carey needs to keep his team energized over the 10-day break preceding the NCAA tournament.
On Tuesday, ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme projected WVU as No. 7 seed and laid out a path for the Mountaineers to host two rounds in Morgantown even though such advantage typically goes to the top four seeds in each region.
Even if Creme’s projection doesn’t pan out, West Virginia suddenly possesses recent evidence that it can out-tough elite teams. Baylor will remain a No. 1 seed and Texas won 19 straight games this season. Beating them has restructured the Mountaineers’ postseason prospectus, making Carey’s bunch a fast-rising threat to reach the Sweet 16 — a place the program reached only once before, in 1992.