Lunardi: Even a 2-6 finish ‘more than likely’ sends WVU dancing

Jonathan Holton and West Virginia have been tied up during blowout losses to Baylor and Oklahoma, but Joe Lunardi still projects the Mountaineers as a No. 6 seed.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi on Monday projected West Virginia as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite two lopsided losses last week and a murderous approaching schedule.

No. 21 West Virginia hosts Kansas State on Wednesday night before facing six consecutive opponents currently among the RPI top 32.

What about a doomsday scenario in which the Mountaineers (18-5, 6-4 Big 12) go only 2-6 the rest of the regular season? Does West Virginia still earn an NCAA bid?

“More than likely,” said Lunardi during Monday night’s appearance on MetroNews “Sportsline.” However, he added one caveat: At 20-11, West Virginia likely would need to avoid a “bad loss” in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

Based on the current RPI of No. 29, Lunardi predicted a 3-5 finish—leaving the Mountaineers at 9-9 in the conference—would “eliminate all doubt” about their worthiness for an at-large bid.

“Give me three (wins) and WVU might wear a white jersey in the first round,” Lunardi said. “A .500 team in the Big 12 is not going to sit home—not this season.”

His updated NCAA bracket includes seven invites for Big 12 teams, with K-State, TCU and Texas Tech omitted. That could mean lots of opportunities to overcome the league’s recent postseason failures. Only twice in the past 10 tournaments has the conference placed a team in the Final Four—and both times it was Kansas (2012 and 2008).

Unlike some analysts who claim the Big 12’s depth is devoid of elite teams, Lunardi thinks the league has several programs capable of advancing all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We see 4s, 5s and 6s in the Final Four all the time, and that’s what most of the Big 12 teams not named Kansas will be.”

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