West Virginia entered the opening round of the NCAA Tournament with TV experts hyping the return of Bobby Hurley, and with Buffalo planted firmly in their minds.
The country had not heard from Buffalo all season, but due to Hurley on the bench, the Bulls were poised to pull the upset of the tourney. The bad news for the Bulls was, Hurley couldn’t play. Although much of the broadcast was about the former Duke national champion, he did not make a shot, grab a rebound or have an assist. When it comes to shocking losses, ask Baylor and Iowa State.
Before the ink could dry on the bracket, analysts had the Bulls winning the No. 12 vs. No. 5 matchup. Three of those people beating the drum were Doug Gottlieb, Seth Davis and Jay Bilas.
Enter Bob Huggins.
When asked about the predictions, Huggins didn’t hold back. Huggs said he doesn’t put much stock in predictions from “a guy who couldn’t shoot 50 percent at the free-throw line and another guy who played intramurals at Duke.”
After West Virginia defeated Buffalo 68-62 to advance to the next round, Huggins would turn his attention to Bilas.
“I’m really going to have to lose my mind when I start paying attention to what Jay Bilas and those people say,” Huggins said via ASAP Sports.
“Jay always does those tweets, gotta go to work, I’m trying to wonder what that is. But I don’t pay any attention to those guys. I mean really, honestly, if they knew everything they probably would have a pretty good coaching job making a lot more money than they’re making sitting there in the studio. So we don’t pay any attention to that.”
Since then, West Virginia continues to prove the doubters wrong, and that continued on Sunday evening when the Mountaineers defeated Maryland 69-59. WVU will now face overall No. 1 seed and undefeated Kentucky on Thursday night.
“It seems like everywhere we go people say, well, it’s not pretty,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “Well I think it’s beautiful. I love it. I love the fact that we can not make shots and still win – still find a way to score."
Huggins added, “It’s hard work. It’s hard and it comes down to having a lot of heart.”
While most of the country is laughing at the idea of West Virginia pulling off the upset on Thursday, the Mountaineers will enter the contest with every intention of winning. This team has no fear, and they don’t fear Kentucky.
“I can’t tell you we are going to win, but I can tell you we aren’t going to be scared.”
Now the stage is set for old friends to face each other once again, and Huggins knows both sides will be ready.
“It’s not another game because it’s the Sweet 16,” said Huggins. “It’s the NCAA Tournament and it’s one-and-done, so you just can’t say it’s another game. I just told our guys to make sure they know (Kentucky coach John Calipari) is going to have them ready to go.”
West Virginia and Kentucky is set for a 9:45 p.m. ET tip on CBS on Thursday. The Wildcats opened as a 12.5-point favorite.
— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.