No. 2 seed disappoints WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia walked off the team bus Sunday afternoon to a sea of Mountaineer fans congratulating the team on its Big East Conference Championship.
The team walked through the crowd, slapping hands with fans in celebration of the team's first ever conference title and a legitimate shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"It was so exciting to see all the fans and to see how proud we made them," said WVU senior forward Da'Sean Butler. "It was pretty cool to hear how crazy it got here, so it was pretty much a dream come true."
But, the mood quickly changed when West Virginia was selected as the third No. 2 seed in the East Regional. The Mountaineers will face Morgan State Friday in Buffalo, N.Y.
"We were a little bit shocked," said WVU's second-leading scorer Kevin Jones. "But we have to get over it and get ready for the game."
WVU coach Bob Huggins didn't necessarily expect to be a No. 1 seed after Duke won the ACC Championship, but he was still disappointed with his team's draw.
"It's disappointing because they say, 'let's look at the full body of work,' and if you look at the full body of work, we were probably a one," Huggins said. "I didn't think we were going to be a number one, but to be the third two is just ... I don't understand that."
Now, the Mountaineers are motivated to prove they should've earned the final No. 1 seed.
"It's kind of a respect thing," said WVU senior forward Wellington Smith. "We felt like we were snubbed a little bit because we did everything that we were supposed to. But we've been in this position before, and we've performed admirably."
West Virginia doesn't know much about Morgan State. Huggins is friends with Bears' coach Todd Bozeman and believes they will use multiple defenses to try to upset the Mountaineers.
"Outside of him," Huggins said, "I don't know anyone on their team."
Morgan State earned an automatic bid by winning the MEAC Conference for the second-straight year. The Bears are 20-2 over their past 22 games and defeated South Carolina State 68-61 in the MEAC title game.
Assuming WVU wins its opener, Huggins is worried about the potential second-round matchup with either Clemson or Missouri.
"In the second round, we're going to have to handle the press," Huggins said.
If WVU advances to the Elite Eight, it has the potential to play against No. 1 seed Kentucky.
Morgan State Bears (27-9, 15-1 MEAC)
Coach: Todd Bozeman (4th year)
Best win: Beat Arkansas 97-94 on Nov. 24
Worst loss: Lost to 13-17 Loyola (Md.) 78-66 on Dec. 1
Strength: The Bears have nine players who average more than 10 minutes per game.
Weakness: Morgan State has more turnovers (487) than it has assists (458) this season.
Player to watch: 6-4 senior guard Reggie Holmes is averaging 21.8 points per game and is Morgan State's all-time leading scorer.
• While Holmes is the obvious leader of the team, Morgan State has two other players, Kevin Thompson and DeWayne Jackson, who score in double figures.
• The Bears are a strong second-half team. They have outscored opponents by 153 points in the second half after only outscoring opponents by 75 in the first half.
• Bozeman coached Cal from 1993-96 before being forced to resign after allegedly paying money to a recruit. He returned to the collegiate head-coaching level at Morgan State in 2006 and has been to the postseason three straight years.