The West Virginia University men's basketball team hasn't won in South Bend since 1996. The Joyce Center has been home to some of the Mountaineers' lowest moments, which is bad news for this team, since they need a win right now. Here's what the storylines are heading into tonight's match-up:
- Will the bubble burst? The Mountaineers are in the middle of a Big East conference that has separated itself like old milk. On top, there are seven teams that are assuredly in the NCAA tournament and down below there are six that definitely are out of the postseason. Smack dab in the middle are three teams, WVU, Seton Hall and Connecticut, who are fighting for what may only be one spot between them. The Mountaineers should be okay on Selection Sunday if they can split their last four, but a top-20 win on the road against the Irish could catapult the 'Eers into the NCAAs tonight. It's the toughest game left on the schedule, but it's also the most important.
- Can Truck stay between the lines? The senior guard started the last game on the bench, a first this season. Judging from how superstitious Huggins is, I think we can expect the same tonight. Bryant saw 20 percent less court time against Pitt, but played a pretty decent game. How he plays Wednesday night will dictate how successful WVU is. He was held scoreless in the teams last meeting, but dished out eight assists, while only taking six shots. If Bryant can have that sort of game tonight, with a focus on getting Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli involved in the offense, WVU will have its best shot at knocking off the Irish.
- Will there be a meltdown? The Joyce Center has been home to a few of WVU's lowest moments, like the dismissal of Drew Schifino or the time Chris Moss spit on a cheerleader. Either way, the potential for an off-the-court meltdown is high, and Mountaineer fans can only hope that tomorrow's water cooler chatter revolves around what happened on the court, not off of it. If the Mountaineers fall behind early, the Irish's glacial pace and defensive fortitude could cause tensions to run high.
Stay tuned to SBNation Pittsburgh and The Smoking Musket for more on the West Virginia Mountaineers.