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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Mountaineers of West Virginia

Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown look to extend its season by taking on old Big East foe West Virginia at McDonough Gym tonight in the NIT and as usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about our next opponent. Here once again to rekindle an old flame are our buddies at The Smoking Musket, the primary place for all things Mountaineers on the internet. Let's do this!

Welcome to the NIT! Has this season been a success or disappointment for West Virginia?

It's been a mixture of both. After last season's complete disappointment, any improvement was welcome. What we got were flashes of absolute brilliance mixed in with a couple of head scratchers, with most of the head scratchers happening before league play. The emergence of our guards was a pleasant revelation, but our front-court was lacking any kind of presence, save the Kansas game (and that was without Embiid in the KU lineup). Many youthful mistakes were prevalent, but said flashes hold hope for an even better year next year.

Who are some of the players on the Mountaineers that Georgetown needs to worry about on Tuesday night?

Our point guard, Juwan Staten has really emerged as a complete play-making point guard this season, doing a complete 180 from what he was last year. The proverbial light came on in the off-season (perhaps with the exit of his former roommate, who I believe was a bad influence on his development). In the last game though, against Texas, Staten did go down on the floor hard clutching his back and left the game later with an ankle injury. We haven't seen any updates on his status since then.

There's also Eron Harris, who has become a generally reliable scorer, finishing among the top four in league scoring (Staten was 2nd, by the way). There have been games, though, when Harris has struggled and in those games, WVU generally didn't do so well.

This matchup has some added glitter as being billed as a matchup of old Big East rivals, so let's talk about West Virginia and the Big East. Were the majority of West Virginia fans good with the school's decision to leave the Conference? What do you miss, if anything, as being part of the Big East? In your opinion who was WVU's biggest rival in the Big East?

WVU is a football school, first and foremost, and most fans realized that the Big East wasn't going to cut it as far as revenue is concerned, and with the impending playoff, we couldn't be left out in the cold like a couple of the other teams (*ahem, UConn, Cincinnati). That said, many fans were hoping for a conference a bit closer geographically, say...the ACC, but the bluebloods on Tobacco Road didn't want us because of our academic standards for admission (which, by the way are mandated by the state to accept as many in-state students as possible). The Big 12 gave us access to the big money and just as important, inclusion in one of the power football conferences.

We miss the familiar rivalries and the tournament in MSG the most, I would say. Pitt, by far, was our biggest rival, namely because of the proximity of the schools but also because of the long history of playing each other every year for soooo long (both in hoops and football). But we also enjoyed the rivalry with Syracuse (also longstanding) and even playing against the Hoyas. Games with you guys were always fun, especially considering our recent string of success.

How has West Virginia's transition to the Big 12 been so far? Do you think it will be good for the school going forward? Who do you see emerging as WVU's biggest rival?

It's been harder than many realized or thought it would be. On the football side of things, recruiting needed/needs time to build some much needed depth. But more surprising was the level of competition in basketball. Huggs inexplicably had 2 or 3 straight recruiting classes absolutely implode on him for a myriad of reasons. Combine that with the level of competition in the Big 12 increasing drastically and it has made for a rough couple of initial seasons in the new league. I made the statement on one of our podcasts that even though we may had left the Big East with the rich hoops history behind, the level of competition followed right along with us into the Big 12. The increase in quality coaches in the Big 12 is the main culprit for that, I believe.

Bobby Huggins has owned JT3 of late, winning the last five meetings between our schools. Any particular reason you think West Virginia has had such success against Georgetown?

I think it was Huggins' style of play that harkened back to the glory days of the Big East (covered wonderfully by that 30 for 30 this week, by the way) of tough, hard-nosed basketball, with an emphasis on defense and rebounding. His defenses were able to disrupt the "Princeton" offense that JT3 employed (still employs?). Having a Da`Sean Butler and Kevin Jones on the roster helped. Plus this was before the roster implosion of last season. I'm fairly certain the streak would have ended had we played one another last season.

What's Kevin Pittsnoggle up to these days?

Last I heard, he was a teacher in the local school system (we're from the same area of the state, eastern portion, not too far from DC), but I'm not for certain.

In the final week of the season, WVU beat Kansas but then got drilled by Texas. Is this team sort of Jekyll & Hyde? What are some of the signs we can look for in the first 5 minutes of the game to tell which WVU team has shown up?

Texas presented a matchup nightmare for WVU this season. Our two best bigs were deemed ineligible this year due to their previous schools' lack of NCAA cooperation. They have a couple of giants on the front court that we just couldn't stop. Also, they played a zone defense that for some reason, we just couldn't crack. In the KU game, we were aided by their lack of Joel Embiid. Our freshman power forward/center had the game of his life, they had nothing to play for and it all came together.

There has been a bit of Jekyll & Hyde to this team this season, but I think most are chalking that up to inexperience (we have 0 seniors on the roster).

What did you think of Geno Smith's first season with the Jets? Can he be a viable starting QB in the NFL for years to come?

I think he was hampered by an extremely ineffective offensive line and lack of decent targets to throw to. Help him out in those areas and I think he can be viable. Probably not a superstar, but viable.

With schools like Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State in the Big 12, when do you think WVU can be a viable contender for a Big 12 hoops title?

Honestly, with the entire roster coming back and the influx of the two bigs we have becoming eligible, next year has a chance to be that year...assuming no major injuries, of course.

Who do you think makes the Final Four (NCAA and NIT) and who winds up cutting down the nets?

NCAA - Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St.& Kansas, with Wisconsin winning
NIT - SMU, St. John's. Missouri & Florida St, with SMU taking it

Our game will be shown on ESPN at 7pm. Please detail where you will be watching the game and any snacks and/or drinks you may consume while doing so.

I'll be watching from the comforts of my home this time. As far as beverages, I tend to stick to the Irish side of things (even when not a holiday), so probably Guinness or Smithwick's. But, I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I can't join the Casual crowd at the Chinatown Hooters for some "top notch" sights.

Final score prediction for Hoyas - Mountaineers?

If Staten's healthy, I think we have a chance, say 81-75. If he's guys have fun traveling to Florida.