12 March 2012
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — West Virginia is in the brackets — and bound for Pittsburgh.
The Mountaineers (19-13) were selected for their fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance on Sunday as the No. 10 seed in the East Region. They will meet No. 7 seed Gonzaga (25-6) on Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, about 75 miles from WVU's campus.
"We're going to play somebody really tough — we knew that — and the location is tough, but that kind of comes with the territory," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
West Virginia is 4-6 in their past 10 games, including a 71-67 overtime loss to Connecticut last Wednesday in their final Big East tournament after leading by double digits in the second half.
It was the seventh time this season that the young Mountaineers squad could not maintain a second-half advantage.
With Sunday's announcement, West Virginia has been in the NCAA field in seven of the last eight years and will make its 24th appearance overall.
Gonzaga, also tabbed as an at-large team, has been chosen by the NCAA for 14 straight years. Among current streaks, only Kansas, Duke and Michigan State exceed that mark.
The Zags reached the West Coast Conference tournament championship game last Monday, losing to rival St. Mary's 78-74 in overtime.
The Mountaineers have averaged 71.6 points per game. Kevin Jones accounted for 20.1 points on average, with Darryl "Truck" Bryant adding 17.2 and Deniz Kilicli contributing 10.7.
Jones finished atop the Big East in average and rebounding, with 11.1 per game. Bryant scored 69 three-pointers for WVU this season.
Gonzaga, out of Spokane, Wash., scores 74 points on average, led by freshman Kevin Pangos, known by his teammates at "The Machine." He averages 14 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bulldogs, but notched 27 points in a regular-season showdown with St. Mary's in February.
The Bulldogs' center Robert Sacre contributes 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The 7-foot post man was the defensive player of the year in the West Coast Conference.
Gonzaga has posted a field goal percentage of 47.3 percent, 30th best in NCAA Division I and is 8-2 in their past 10 outings.
"You know they're a Big East team and when it comes to Big East teams they're going to be very physical with the mentality they're going to kick your teeth in," Gonzaga's Elias Harris said. "We need to come out very physical. That's a key for us winning the game."
It's the second consecutive year the Bulldogs will open the tournament with a Big East foe, after taking out St. John's in the first round last year before falling to Brigham Young.
The Big East conference, which WVU will leave this summer, led all conferences with nine teams chosen by the NCAA.
That includes defending national champion Connecticut, a dangerous No. 9 seed, conference tournament winner Louisville and Syracuse, which won 11 in a row before losing 71-68 to Cincinnati in the Big East semifinals on Friday.
Syracuse (31-2) is the top seed in the East and will meet UNC Asheville (24-9) on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Cincinnati (24-10) is the No. 6 seed in the East.
The winner of Thursday's game between West Virginia and Gonzaga will face Ohio State or Loyola, Md. on Saturday.
|< Prev||Next >|