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West Virginia To Face Minnesota In Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship Game

Well folks, West Virginia has a date with the North Carolina Tar Heels Minnesota Golden Gophers, this Sunday at 8:30pm.

I was unabashed in my desire to see the Mounties square off against one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.  It ain't happening, but it's still all good.  West Virginia has a chance to win an early season tournament for the second year in a row, and that's a great thing.  In fact, I'm much more confident now that I know the Mountaineers are playing the Golden Gophers, but I still wish that a big-time upset was West Virginia's headline, not Minnesota's.

Minnesota's got a talented squad that shut down the Tar Heels tonight, and they can easily come out and paste WVU if Huggins and company aren't careful.  Blake Hoffarber can hit the big shot, and Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe can make things happen down low.  It will be no cakewalk for the Mountaineers, but they must recognize that all of a sudden they find themselves in the catbird's seat.  Take care of business on Sunday, and come home undefeated with a couple of decent wins under their belt.  To do that, the guards need to keep playing lights out, and Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli need to get going offensively.  I don't think either of those things are out of the reach of this incarnation of the Mountaineers.

Minnesota may not be the glamor match-up Carolina was, but with Tubby Smith at the helm and some bonafide stars in the mix, the Gophers are still a great test for the Mountaineers.  WVU can't skate to victory on Sunday, but if the Mountaineers show up and play like they know they can, then West Virginia may have laid the foundation for a great season.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.