MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If bottom-seeded West Virginia doesn’t pull off a miracle run through the Big 12 tournament, coach Bob Huggins and athletics director Shane Lyons are committed to extending the season with an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational.
“You’d like to rip off four wins at the Big 12 tournament this week, but if that doesn’t happen, then the CBI would be good for our young guys,” Lyons told MetroNews. “We agreed it was a good idea for our younger players to have more game-time experience.”
“It’s similar to bowl games. You have lower-tier bowls and this is a lower-tier postseason in basketball, but it gives you a chance to prepare for the future.”
The Mountaineers (12-19) can only earn an NCAA bid by winning four games in four days at Kansas City. Nor are they candidates for the NIT, which typically doesn’t feature sub-.500 teams. Below that on the postseason pecking order comes the CBI, a 16-team event that launched in 2008 and requires host schools to buy in for $50,000. That fee would be offset by whatever schools make on ticket sales and concessions.
Huggins confirmed on Sunday night’s radio show that West Virginia’s young players want to play in the postseason under any route possible. The Mountaineers’ current rotation features five freshmen.
“They were ecstatic about continuing to play,” Huggins said. “Every minute that these guys play together, the better we’re going to be next year.”
West Virginia would be poised to host three single-elimination rounds of the CBI, with the finals featuring a best-of-three format.
“If you have a lot of seniors on this team, it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Lyons said. “Maybe even a month ago, the answer is different. But when you see these young guys continuing to grow, there’s a benefit of continuing to play.”
Previous CBI champions included Oregon, Pitt, Nevada and VCU. Other power-conference participants included Purdue, Colorado, Washington, Washington State, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas.
WVU opens Big 12 tournament play Wednesday night against Oklahoma.