MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A mid-Atlantic snowstorm forced West Virginia to modify its NCAA tournament travel itinerary, with administrators opting to bus the team to Buffalo on Monday night instead of risking delays with a Tuesday chart flight.
Coach Bob Huggins said Sunday the team intended to fly, but on Monday morning he was tardy for a Big 12 teleconference because of a hastily called travel meeting. After the busing decision came down, the Mountaineers were slated to leave campus around 5:30 p.m.
West Virginia (26-8) is scheduled to hold an open shoot-around Wednesday 2:15 p.m. inside the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. They meet Bucknell (26-8) in first-round action Thursday at 2:45 p.m., following the Notre Dame-Princeton opener.
Huggins and assistants began evaluating Bucknell immediately after the bracket announcement, and by Monday they’d seen plenty of 6-foot-9 center Nana Foulland. The Patriot League player of the year scores 14.9 points, shoots 62 percent from the floor, grabs 7.8 rebounds and averages 2.1 blocks.
While the Bison are competent from 3-point range — ranking 57th nationally at 37.7 percent — Huggins said the offense runs through the low post with Foulland, whose 181 free-throw attempts were third-most in the Patriot League.
“I think they’re going to play a lot of four-out,” he said. “Their post guy is really good. I don’t know that they spread it to shoot it out there as much as they spread it to get him the ball close.”
Around a nucleus of juniors Foulland, forward Zach Thomas and point guard Stephen Brown, the rest of Bucknell’s eight-man rotation features four sophomores and a freshman. Huggins wouldn’t call the lack of seniors a drawback.
“If that’s the case, Kentucky ought to lose to Northern Kentucky,” he said, “but that’s probably not going to happen.”
K-State heads to Dayton
As Kansas State (20-13) hurriedly prepped for Tuesday night’s matchup against Wake Forest, coach Bruce Weber was asked if First Four participants sense they are a legitimate part of the field.
“I feel like we’re in the tournament,” he said. “We’re a part of it, and we’re proud of our guys. It’s a nice honor after they survived a tough year.”
With a 57 RPI and a 4-9 record against the top 50, the Wildcats were the last at-large team invited. They salvaged their postseason by upsetting Baylor in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals before suffering a 51-50 loss to WVU in the semifinals.
“I thought we really played well in the Big 12 tournament,” Weber said. “Obviously we wanted to get that West Virginia (semifinal) game, but I don’t know if that would’ve changed anything with the seeding or not.”
Though fifth-seeded Iowa State claimed the Big 12 tournament title, coach Steve Prohm appreciates that 12th-seeded Nevada has emerged as a trendy upset pick in the NCAA first-round game.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I think everybody’s picking them,” he said. “It keeps you humble, keeps you focused.”
Josh Jackson back
Has new information led Bill Self to consider extending the one-game suspension levied on Kansas star freshman Josh Jackson for the Big 12 tournament?
“Hell no,” the coach said Monday.
Top-seeded in the Midwest Region, the Jayhawks meet the First Four survivor of NC Central and UC Davis.