Mar 15, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers forward Deniz Kilicli (13) grabs a rebound against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers

The West Virginia Mountaineers had a very successful 2011-2012 season. They posted a very impressive 9-3 record after their twelve non-conference games last season. Their most notable game was on the road against #24 Mississippi State (WVU lost).

They also played two Big 12 opponents last season. The Big 12 opponents were the Kansas State Wildcats and the Baylor Bears. The Mountaineers defeated the Wildcats in double overtime and lost to #7 Baylor in overtime. Could these two games be sign showing how West Virginia will fair in the Big 12 this year?

West Virginia has a chance to contend in the Big 12, but will need to replace some key players first. Two players who will not play for the Mountaineers this season include: Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant.

Both of these players were the top two scorers for WVU last year. Jones averaged 19.9 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game, and 1.0 blocks per game while Bryant averaged 16.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 2.7 assists per game. Kevin Jones is currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On the other hand, West Virginia will have three of their five starters from 2011-2012 returning this season. One of these returning starters is senior forward Deniz Kilicli. Kilicli played in 32 games for the Mountaineers and averaged 26.6 minutes per game, 10.7 points per game, and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Two other players that will need to help out West Virginia this season are Matt Humphrey and Dominique Rutledge. Humphrey is a senior guard who transferred to WVU from Boston College in June of 2012. He started 29 games at Boston College during the 2010-2011 season. He was also second on the team in scoring with 10.3 points per game. He should be able to help out West Virginia a lot this year.

Rutledge played in 28 games during his first year at West Virginia last season. He only averaged 2.0 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game.

This year’s schedule is jammed pack for the Mountaineers. They will play eleven non-conference games and six of them are going to be on national television. Some of their notable non-conference opponents this year include: Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Purdue. This season’s non-conference schedule looks a lot tougher than last season’s, but the Mountaineers should be fine.

Even though this will be WVU’s first season in the Big 12, the competition level should not be that much different than the Big East. The Big East is a very good and competition conference. The only difference will be that the Mountaineers will be worrying about the Jayhawks, Bears, and Cyclones instead of the Huskies, Cardinals, and Orange. There is a really good chance that West Virginia could be the 3rd best team in the Big 12 this season.

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Tags: Big 12 Deniz Kilicli West Virginia Mountaineers

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