A Little Know-Howe: Why the 2016-2017 WVU Men's Basketball Season is the "What If" Season

By Brad Howe on April 01, 2017 from A Little Know-Howe via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Making it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament is not something that should be taken for granted.
Nor should we assume West Virginia will win 25+ games and play for a Big 12 tournament championship as it has the last two seasons.
Consider this, West Virginia has won 25, 26 and 28 games the last three seasons.
Prior to that run, WVU had only won 25 or more games five times from 1960-2013.
Yes, there are more games in a season now. That helps, no doubt.
So, let's do it this way.
West Virginia has won, on average, 74% of its games the last three seasons.
WVU won at least 74% of its games in a season only nine times from 1960-2013.
Winning that much is hard to do. Period.
It's been a tremendous three year run for West (Press) Virginia with no signs of slowing down next year.
Four starters return. Jevon Carter is not only a Big 12 player of the year candidate, he is probably the front runner headed into the season.
Is next year the year West Virginia breaks through with another Final Four appearance?
If you've been a college basketball fan for a while you realize how difficult it is to get to a Final Four.
You have to be really good. And, lucky. You need breaks.
West Virginia had the really good part down this season. This team could play with anyone. The 'getting breaks' part. Well, that started to appear late in the season. I'll get to that shortly.
It was a very successful season. No doubt.
But, I will forever look back on the 2016-17 season as a "what-if" season as well.
I say that, not as a criticism of the season this team had. In fact, quite the opposite.
I say it as an acknowledgement that winning a league championship (regular season or tournament) is so hard. It's about more than just having a really good team led by a Hall of Fame coach.
A few games, and really just a few plays here or there, and this is a season that would rank among the very best in West Virginia history.
I'll explain.
West Virginia had Kansas beat on its home floor which would have completed the season sweep of the Jayhawks. Had WVU finished that game off, who knows what that would meant in terms of ending KU's stranglehold on the Big 12 regular season championship.
In the Big 12 tournament title game West Virginia was matched with an Iowa State team it had beaten fairly easily twice during the regular season, and four straight games overall.
And then the NCAA tournament...a couple more free throws, one less foul and/or one more basket and West Virginia would have moved on to an Elite Eight gam
e against the 11 seed Xavier.
No disrespect to Xavier, but I would have taken West Virginia all day long in that game. Beat Xavier and South Carolina would have 
been all that stood in the way of a national championship game appearance
I know South Carolina is incredibly hot right now, but if I had told you in November West Virginia would have to beat a seven seed to advance to a national championship game...you would have signed up for that deal on the spot.
We're talking about just a few plays over the course of a season. See how hard it is?
You know, it's funny. The better season you have, the more 'what-if' comes into play.
If a team goes 13-18, you don't play 'what-if.' You just move on hoping next year is better.
When a team is successful, like West Virginia was this past season, it's easier to find just a few moments that would have made a great season historic.
West Virginia was fun to watch this year. The third most wins in program history. A second straight Big 12 tournament championship game appearance. A second Sweet Sixteen in three years.
Yes, it's been a tremendous run for Press Virginia. I can acknowledge that while still saying 'what if.'

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