West Virginia men’s basketball, the lone Big 12 team based in the eastern time zone, was slotted for the East Region of the 2018 NCAA Tournament when the field was unveiled just more than a week ago.
So naturally, the Mountaineers opened up the March Madness action in …. San Diego?
Like it or not, that’s the hand that the Mountaineers — alongside Marshall, Wichita State and Murray State — were dealt for the opening two rounds: playing in East Region, but starting the tournament on the West Coast.
That didn’t stop the Mountaineers from cruising through the first two rounds en route to the Sweet Sixteen, which will begin much closer to home this Friday at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.
But that hasn’t changed the fact that West Virginia’s travel schedule for the Big Dance has been nothing short of grueling. The flying distance between Morgantown, W. Va. and San Diego, Calif. is approximately 2,400 miles. Add Tuesday’s early departure for Boston — a 501 mile trek — on top of that previous round trip, and West Virginia has traveled more than 5,000 miles thus far in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s not to mention the Mountaineers already have to put up with the most in-conference travel, in miles, of any Big 12 team.
So how could that affect West Virginia as the team looks to advance a step closer to a trip to San Antonio, Texas for the Final Four? Coach Bob Huggins can see the results of the intense travel going either way.
According to 247Sports.com’s Chris Anderson, Huggins said during a teleconference on Tuesday that the miles his team has racked up could either give the Mountaineers some extra endurance opposed to others in the East Regional, or cause fatigue to rear its ugly head when West Virginia hits the court.
“Either we’re prepared because we travel more than any other team in the country, or they’re going to be worn out. Hopefully it’s not that we’re going to be worn out.”
Per Anderson, West Virginia had less than 24 hours at home after arriving back from California. The Mountaineers arrived in Morgantown at approximately 7 p.m. ET on Monday.
The team was originally set to depart for Boston on Wednesday, but a snowstorm in the forecast later this week bumped up the team’s departure a day early.
West Virginia is set to face Villanova, the 1-seed in the region, on Friday at 7:27 ET. A Mountaineers victory could potentially result in a Big 12 showdown for a trip to the Final Four on Sunday. Whoever advances will meet the winner of Texas Tech and Purdue in the Elite Eight. The Mountaineers and Red Raiders are two of four Big 12 teams left in the tournament across three regions.
The post Bob Huggins: West Virginia’s intense travel in NCAA Tournament can help or hurt appeared first on Diehards.
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