Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup.
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BIG 12 BASKETBALL TIPOFF
West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins traveled to Kansas City with WVU guard Taz Sherman for the Big 12 Conference Basketball Tipoff, commonly known as the Big 12 media days. Huggins discussed a variety of topics at the event, including the league’s upcoming expansion with Cincinnati, Houston, Brigham Young, and Central Florida set to join in 2023. Huggins reflected on the Mountaineers’ move to the Big 12 back in 2012 and how he and his teams had to adjust to the conference’s tight officiating, as compared to the Big East which allowed games to be much more physical.
More importantly, Huggins discussed how there are usually no opponents in the Big 12 that can be overlooked, which is something that he had not experienced previously in his coaching career. The Big 12 is a much more competitive and complete league, compared to some of college basketball’s other conferences. Amid the tough competition, Huggins and the Mountaineers are continuing to chase a Big 12 title, which has eluded them since they joined the league.
WVU will host a charity exhibition against Akron, with all proceeds from the game benefitting the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund, on October 29th. And its first regular season game will be on November 9th against Oakland.
GETTING THE RUNAROUND
The West Virginia defense has carried the team this football season. With the exception of the Baylor game, the defense has given the Mountaineers a chance to win every game this season, but the offense has failed to pull its weight. The WVU defense will be put to the test this week when it faces TCU’s dominant rushing attack. The Horned Frogs have the third best rushing average in the Big 12, with 227.5 yards per game.
On the other side, the Mountaineer offense needs to get its running game figured out. Coming into this season it seemed like WVU would have to rely on running back Leddie Brown because of the questionable quarterback situation, but the Mountaineers have failed to run the football and are last in the conference with 111.8 rushing yards per game.
The #25 West Virginia men’s soccer team faced #4 Kentucky on Tuesday night in Lexington. The match was a defensive battle. The Mountaineers and Wildcats only had two and four shots in the first half, respectively. And each team had six shots in the second half, but none of them reached the back of the net, so the game went into overtime. The defense continued in the first overtime period, which did not see a shot by either team, but UK was able to score on its only shot in the second overtime period to knock off WVU.
WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP
- As expected, the West Virginia women’s basketball team is ranked in the Associated Press (AP) Preseason Poll. The Mountaineers come in at #19 in the country, right behind Ohio State and Georgia Tech. WVU is also projected to finish near the top of the Big 12 this year. #7 Baylor is seen as the conference’s top team, followed by #25 Texas, #12 Iowa State, and the Mountaineers.
- Ceili McCabe led the West Virginia cross country team with her first-place finish at the Wisconsin’s Nuttycombe Invitational last week. The first-place finish earned her the honor of being the NCAA DI Women’s National Athlete of the Week. The WVU junior was also named the Big 12 Runner of the Week.
- As the 2021-22 season is preparing to start, the West Virginia wrestling team has four Mountaineers that are ranked in their respective weight classes. The WVU wrestlers that are ranked this preseason are redshirt senior Killian Cardinale in the 125-pound weight class, sophomore Peyton Hall at 165 pounds, fifth-year senior Luke Karam at 149 pounds, and Michael Wolfgram in the heavyweight division.
AROUND THE BIG 12
- This week’s Big 12 slate features two noon games with #3 Oklahoma traveling to Kansas and Kansas State facing Texas Tech. The undefeated Sooners are favored by almost 40 points in their game, while the Wildcats and Red Raiders appear to be pretty evenly matched in their game.
- The conference action continues with Iowa State hosting #8 Oklahoma State. The undefeated Cowboys are actually underdogs in this matchup that will be nationally televised on Fox at 3:30 p.m. ET. West Virginia’s road trip to TCU will wrap up the conference games for this week at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
AROUND THE NCAA
- There are no ranked matchups in college football this week, but there are some interesting rivalry games on the schedule. #6 Michigan and Northwestern will be playing for the George Jewett Trophy for the first time in their rivalry. The trophy was created this year to honor George Jewett, who played at both schools in the 1890’s.
- The Magnolia Bowl between LSU and #12 Ole Miss will be played at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Both teams have faced a lot of distractions this week, with the Tigers learning that head coach Ed Orgeron will not return next year and the Rebels coming off of a win at Tennessee where they and the referees were pelted with trash by fans.
- This week is the third Saturday in October, so that means #4 Alabama and Tennessee will be facing off. This rivalry had been competitive in the past, but the Crimson Tide currently has a 14-game winning streak over the Volunteers.
- The last rivalry game of the week is #13 Notre Dame hosting USC. The Fighting Irish have won the past three matchups against the Trojans, and are favored by almost a touchdown in this game that will be nationally televised on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.
ODDS AND ENDS
- The Astros have taken a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series. In game five, Houston starting pitcher Framber Valdez completed eight innings to help the Astros get a 9-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
- In the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2 last night to take a 3-1 lead in the series.
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