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Jerry Palm predicts WVU needs at least 19 wins for at-large bid

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bracketology guru Jerry Palm said West Virginia needs a strong finishing stretch to have a chance on Selection Sunday.

With six regular-season games remaining and at least one game guaranteed in the Big 12 tournament, West Virginia (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) owns an RPI of 66.

“They’re going to have to play better than .500 basketball the rest of the way, and maybe better than that even,” Palm said Tuesday night. “They might have to win four of those six and then a game in the conference tournament.

“Short of 19 (wins) they’re probably not going to make it, and 19 may not do it either.”

COLUMN: West Virginia climbs back to the bubble

Palm, who has been forecasting NCAA brackets with astonishing accuracy since 1993 and now serves as the RPI expert for CBSSports.com, told the MetroNews “Statewide Sportsline” crew that WVU is one of about 25 bubble teams vying for 14 at-large spots. The bubble can tighten up severely if underdogs start winning their league tournaments.

Though West Virginia (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) has garnered four quality wins in its last five games, Palm speculated that the Mountaineers have much left to prove.

“Quite a bit actually,” he said, “because 10 losses is a kind of a high number (at this point). If you finish the year with 13 or 14 losses, the odds of making the tournament are significantly reduced. There’s not really a lot of wiggle room for West Virginia.

“And at some point … they’re going to have to pick up a quality win away from home, because that’s also a hole in their resume.”

Though the Mountaineers own a win at Baylor (RPI No. 55), their record in true road games stands at just 3-5. West Virginia is 3-1 on neutral courts, with the best win coming against No. 121 William & Mary.

While WVU missed out on upset bids against Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Missouri in the nonconference portion, the primary damage was inflicted by losses to No. 107 Purdue and No. 217 Virginia Tech.

“Purdue hurts because it was at home, and Virginia Tech, that’s an eyesore,” Palm said.

View all of Palm’s “Sportsline” interview above.

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