April 1, 2010

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By Anthony Oliva III

Coming into the season, West Virginia was considered by many to be a team with Final Four potential. While Syracuse and Villanova stole most of the headlines in the Big East, the Mountaineers did not waver on their way to a terrific season. The year culminated with an electrifying run to win the Big East Tournament. With a physically imposing frontline, West Virginia now sets its sights on its first ever national title.

Here is a closer look at West Virginia.

Click here for a photo gallery of West Virginia's starting five.
Overall Record: 31-6
Conference Record: 13-5 (Big East)
Conference Highlights: Tournament champions
Final AP Rank: 6
Current Winning Streak: 10

Round One: Defeated No. 15 Morgan State, 77-50
Round Two: Defeated No. 10 Missouri, 68-59
Sweet Sixteen: Defeated No. 11 Washington, 69-56
Elite Eight: Defeated No. 1 Kentucky, 73-66

With this trip to the Final Four - its first since 1959 - West Virginia is back on the college basketball map. The Mountaineers' devoutly devoted fan base is as energized as it has been since Jerry West was in Morgantown - and for good reason. From buzzer-beaters in the Big East Tournament to a first half against Kentucky where West Virginia didn't hit a two-point field goal, it's been a very exciting run for the Mountaineers.

With Darryl "Truck" Bryant still likely out for the remainder of the tournament, junior point guard Joe Mazzulla takes center stage. Against Kentucky, Mazzulla surpassed double-digits in scoring for the first time this year and finished with a career-high 17 points. Mazzulla has experience, including a 13-point, 11-rebound and eight-assist performance against Duke in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, and the Mountaineers will benefit greatly from a similar effort.

131: The amount of offensive rebounds Kevin Jones has on the year. He has 136 defensive.
57.8: The average points given up by West Virginia in the tournament.
18: Years since Bob Huggins' last Final Four.
8: The amount of 3-pointers West Virginia hit in the first half against Kentucky.
6: The amount of game-winning shots Da'Sean Butler has made this year.

West Virginia can win its first championship if its post players continue to control the paint. The Mountaineers must dominate the post with its athleticism and size, as well as generate easy offense with offensive rebounds. Also, it doesn't hurt to have one of the best clutch players in the game in Butler.