West Virginia opens the 2019-20 campaign against the Akron Zips

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

A new era of Mountaineer basketball tips off tonight in Morgantown.

OPENING THOUGHTS

Welcome to the 2019-2020 West Virginia Basketball season! The West Virginia Mountaineers are back at the Coliseum since the most frustrating, irrelevant, unimportant and embarrassing game ever played at the Coliseum against Coastal Carolina. The last time we saw these Mountaineers, they were hosting Coastal Carolina on their home court. The team fell behind early and never recovered. Huggins and his Mountaineers went into the half down 50—36 and struggled even more in the second half, falling behind 90-66 at one point before slowly putting some effort into the final few minutes to make the final score somewhat palatable, 109-91.

Now the Mountaineers start a new season with a bunch of new faces. Gone are Esa Ahmad, Wesley Harris, who were cancers to the team last year. Also gone is Sagaba Konate. Now Huggins will introduce five-star prospect Oscar Tshiebwe, JUCO guard Taz Sherman and a host of new faces.

This is the third time the Mountaineers and the Zips have met with the Mountaineers leading the season series 2-1. The Mountaineers haven’t lost to the team from Akron since that all-important 1937 season when they lost at Akron, 34-32.

WHEN/WHERE

Date: Friday, November 8th

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 PM ET

Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, West Virginia

 WVU Basketball | Photo taken by Katie MacCrory

Tickets: WVUGame.com

WATCH/LISTEN

TV: ATT SportsNet Pittsburgh

Streaming Video: WVUSports.com & WVU Sports app

Radio: WZST Variety 101 (100.9 FM in Morgantown) or the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates)

Streaming Audio: Locate the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on TuneIn Radio (or the TuneIn Radio app for smartphones)

Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 83

ODDS

Spread: West Virginia by 11

O/U: 144 Total

THE ENEMY

Where are they from? Akron, Ohio

Series History: West Virginia leads 2-1

Last Time: West Virginia 77, Akron 56 on November 28, 2011 in Morgantown

SB Nation: Underdog Dynasty

Record: 1-0 (0-0 MAC)

2018-2019 Record: 17-16 (8-10 MAC)

Head Coach: John Groce

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at RutgersNoah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

KEYS TO THE GAME

  • Listen to the Coach. We saw peak frustration last season from fans and coaches alike. It boiled down to a lack of being coachable. It appears the head coach is optimistic about this team but they can’t confuse optimism with pacifism. If they rebound, play defense, rebound, run the offense and rebound the coach is happy and we’re singing Country Roads.
  • Contain Akron’s top two. The season is young but Akron’s top players seem to have stepped up and shown themselves early this season. Dayton transfer Xeyrius Williams is eligible this season for the Zips and will be a key 3-4 matchup for the Mountaineers. Loren Jackson is a spark-plug point guard who averaged almost 14 points per game last season. Limiting these two is a key to a WVU victory.

HOW AFRAID SHOULD WE BE (ON A SCALE OF 1-10)?

Three. These Mountaineers are a completely different product than what we saw on the court last season. We saw them in Spain against the Spanish Beer League and we’ve seen them against Duquense. Also, Oscar. Akron is a middle-of-the-pack MAC team. If we rebound we win.

PREDICTION THAT WILL BE WRONG

Someone will confuse Akron coach John Groce with folk music legend Jim Croce.

West Virginia 90, Akron 72

Source: Smoking Musket