Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup.
Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions.
West Virginia’s men’s basketball season is set to begin this Friday when the Mountaineers host Akron in a charity exhibition game. All proceeds from the game will benefit the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund and the game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
WVU’s roster has a lot of experience, but it also has a lot of newcomers. The Mountaineers have seven seniors, including five fifth-year guys. The fifth-year seniors include returning contributors Taz Sherman and Gabe Osabuohien, who will be expected to step up as leaders this season. They are joined by fifth-year transfers Malik Curry, Pauly Paulicap, and Dimon Carrigan. The other two seniors are Sean McNeil and Kedrian Johnson, who will also see increased roles this year.
The rest of the roster is relatively inexperienced. Sophomore forward Jalen Bridges is the only young player that saw significant playing time last season. Fellow sophomores Taj Thweatt and Seny N’diaye have shown improvement this preseason and redshirt freshman Isaiah Cottrell is expected to bounce back from his season-ending injury last year. The Mountaineers also have four freshmen with James Okonkwo, Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, and Jamel King.
Akron went 15-8 last season in a schedule that primarily featured Mid-American Conference games. The Zips are also returning eight players this year.
The #19 West Virginia women’s basketball team is also getting ready to start its season. The Mountaineers are hosting WVU Tech tonight in a “Haunted Hoops” exhibition. WVU lost guard Kysre Gondrezick to the WNBA Draft this offseason, but the Mountaineers are still expected to contend for a Big 12 title this year. The other four Mountaineers that started alongside Gondrezick are back, and they are joined by seven newcomers.
Four-year starter Madisen Smith is expected to lead WVU at point guard. She will be joined by K.K. Deans and Kari Niblack, who were starters the past two seasons. Sophomore Esmery Martinez is also back in the starting lineup for WVU. Martinez averaged a double-double with 11.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game last season and should continue dominating the post.
Tonight’s game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
The big weekend for WVU sports starts with a soccer doubleheader in Morgantown today. The West Virginia men’s team will open the day with a 3:00 p.m. ET game against Georgia State. The Mountaineers won their last match and are looking to build momentum as they approach postseason play. This match will be streamed on ESPN+.
The women’s team’s match will follow when they host Senior Night against Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers have had scoreless ties in their last two Big 12 matches, so hopefully the WVU seniors can score some goals in their final regular season game at home. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET and the game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP
- Junior cornerback Charles Woods transferred to West Virginia from Illinois State, and now he is starting to see an increase is playing time which is leading to an increase in production. In WVU’s win over TCU, Woods had five tackles along with an interception and a fumble recovery.
- Junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey of the WVU women’s soccer team was named the United Soccer Coaches Division I National Player of the Week. Massey had a career-high seven saves in both of the Mountaineers’ matches last week. She also had clean sheets in both of those games.
AROUND THE BIG 12
- All 10 Big 12 football teams are in action this week. The conference slate starts with Texas traveling to #16 Baylor at noon ET on ABC. The Bears only have one loss this season and they are favored by a field goal in this game.
- The next Big 12 game is West Virginia hosting #22 Iowa State at 2:00 p.m. ET. The Mountaineers are seven-point underdogs, and the game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
- The 3:30 p.m. ET games are Texas Tech versus #4 Oklahoma and TCU facing Kansas State. The undefeated Sooners are favored by almost 20 points at home, while the Wildcats are the slight favorites in their game. The OU/TTU game will be nationally televised on ABC and the TCU/K-State game will be on ESPNU.
- This week’s conference games wrap up with #15 Oklahoma State hosting Kansas. The Cowboys are huge favorites in this game that will be televised on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
AROUND THE NCAA
- There are some massive matchups in college football this week. One of the biggest games is a battle of undefeated Big Ten rivals: #6 Michigan and #8 Michigan State. Not only is the Paul Bunyan Trophy on the line, but there are also College Football Playoff implications in this game as well. The Wolverines are favored by four points on the road and this game will be nationally televised on Fox at noon ET.
- Another notable rivalry game this week is #10 Ole Miss visiting #18 Auburn. The Tigers are favored by a field goal in this night game that will be televised on ESPN.
- #5 Ohio State and #20 Penn State will also be facing off on ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET in a battle of ranked Big Ten rivals. The one-loss Buckeyes are heavily favored at home.
ODDS AND ENDS
- The NFC has a handful of dominant teams that could be gearing up to make Super Bowl runs. The Arizona Cardinals are currently undefeated, while the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, and Green Bay Packers each have one loss and have all shown signs of being championship-level teams.
- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not impressed with questions about the possibility of him making a move to college football. Tomlin even stated that “There’s not a booster with a big enough blank check.”
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