All posts by andrewlinderman19

Student at West Virginia University President of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity Writer for Banter Sports Die Hard sports fan

The Perfect Match: Will John Wall & DeMarcus Cousins Ever Play Together in the NBA?

The NBA has experienced a trend of superstars pairing up since the 2010 offseason when LeBron announced that he’d be joining Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in South Beach. This happened in July, not long after NBA draft concluded, the same draft that saw future NBA stars and college teammates John Wall and DeMarcus cousins were selected number one and five respectively. This draft broke up a collegiate version of the traditional “super team”, sending two players who made up one of the most talented Kentucky basketball teams in years to opposite sides of the country.

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Cousins (left) spent the majority of his career so far with the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him 5th overall in 2010. In the same draft, Wall (right) found himself being drafted first overall for the Washington Wizards, a team that he has propelled to a fourth seed in the 2017 playoffs.

Since 2010, both Wall and Cousins have fulfilled their potential, or very close to it, and have become legitimate stars and franchise players in the NBA. Wall has found his groove in the nation’s capitol for the Wizards, where he’s set to lead them to their third playoff appearance in four seasons. Wall has also made the eastern conference All-Star team each of the past four seasons, and has taken his game to another level in 2017.

DeMarcus Cousins was selected by the Sacramento Kings, going out west to begin his career. Cousins began to find his own, despite playing for a struggling Kings team that has failed to make the playoffs in each of the past 11 seasons. However, Cousins will no longer be a part of what has proven to be one of the most poorly-run franchises in the NBA, as he found himself being shipped to New Orleans for next to nothing just before this season’s trade deadline expired. Cousins has been in New Orleans for just almost two months, and has already faced some scrutiny saying that he’s worn out his welcome because the Pelicans haven’t moved up in the standings.

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Cousins hasn’t exactly been a perfect fit since moving to New Orleans in a blockbuster trade deadline move this season.

Cousins’ deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2018 season, but it’s never too early to speculate. Despite the pre-considered notion that it would take time for Pelicans star Anthony Davis to gel with Cousins in the front-court, today’s NBA fans are impatient and like to see immediate results. It’s not a long shot to say he will at least test free agency waters in 2018 once his contract expires. Due to Cousins’ history with John Wall, along with the fact that Wall is one of the only players around the league who can keep Cousins’ wild personality at bay, it is completely possible that Cousins takes his talents to Washington D.C. The only road block one could possibly see is the Wizards’ current center, Marcin Gortat, whose contract runs through the 2019 season. However, he’ll only be owed about $13 million (chump change for the ever-increasing salary cap), which wouldn’t be a difficult contract to move to make way for Cousins.

While this scenario is over a year away, it simply makes sense that Wall and Boogie would want to team up and compete for a title. After all, they have some unfinished business after falling in the Elite Eight of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. While a lot can change in the span of over a year, I’d still have to say that the odds of Cousins and Wall playing together are pretty high. If the “fire and ice” experiment in New Orleans works out next season, Cousins may want to resign with the Pelicans, but if Davis and Cousins end up showing bad chemistry, Boogie may very well want to look elsewhere. Washington looks like a team that is one piece away from being a legitimate title contender and Cousins may just be that missing piece.

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Are the Mets Legitimate World Series Contenders?

The New York Mets’ nine-season drought of missing the postseason was snapped in 2015 when they made some big deadline moves to pair with their elite pitching staff with strong batting. This combination crowned the Mets National League Champions. After falling short in the 2015 season, the Mets set out to become World Champions in 2016, a goal the ultimately also failed, after losing in the NL Wild Card game to the San Francisco Giants. Now, the Mets set out to get back to the World Series, but are they serious contenders anymore?

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By far the Mets’ biggest strength is their starting pitching that features five young pitchers all with Ace potential. Next up, they have a superstar in Yoenis Cespedes the middle of the lineup to lead their offense. Built around him are some veteran bats in Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda to help raise the apple in center field as many times as possible throughout the season. The infield defense is solid with Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker up the middle, and Jose Reyes manning the hot corner. They have an average bullpen, with the exception of All-Star closer Jeurys Familia, who will likely be serving a suspension for domestic violence of around 30 games to start the season.

Despite all of the Mets’ upsides they have many shortcomings that could keep them out of the World Series. Their catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, is a defensive liability, slashing a .247/.307/.323 and just 4 home runs in 75 games. He has also had trouble staying healthy, which is also an issue for the pitching staff. Last season, Zack Wheeler failed to come back from Tommy John surgery when his ETA for a return was Mid-July. Matt Harvey went down in early July for the season, and Steven Matz missed the last month-and-a-half of the season with an elbow injury that required off-season surgery. Jacob DeGrom missed all of September with an arm injury that he eventually decided to pitch through for most of the season. Noah Syndergaard is the only pitcher in their star-studded bullpen who was able to stay healthy all last season.

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Going into the upcoming season, Zack Wheeler is still a huge question mark, and Matt Harvey has not looked as promising as he has looked in the past so far this spring. Matz has looked good in his first two spring starts so far, but no one knows if he can with withstand a full major league season, which he has failed to do in his first two big league seasons. DeGrom and Syndergaard have both looked very good and look to lead the staff throughout the season in 2017.

Another big question to be addressed for the Mets coaching staff is the log jam in the corner outfield positions. Cespedes, Bruce, Granderson and Michael Conforto are all very capable corner outfielders. Conforto is a promising young talent, and the other three are on expensive contracts, so definitive changes should be made. Lastly, the Mets’ only true defensive star, Juan Lagares, constantly struggles to hit right handed pitching, which could prove to be problematic down the stretch.

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The Mets have some questions marks going into the season, but as long as their starting pitching and big bats stay healthy, they have a legitimate chance to play deep into October.

The Year of the Championship Game

The recent passing of arguably the most exciting Super Bowl in NFL history caps what should make 2016 the year of the Championship game, given that both the CFP Championship game and Super Bowl took place in 2017 but are a part of the 2016 sports year. 2016 featured five incredible do-or-die games that all came down to the wire. 3-1 leads were blown, and games looked like they were over but some fantastic comebacks led to even better endings.

The year started off with the NCAA tournament, famously and deservedly nicknamed March Madness. The matchup between #1 seeds Villanova and UNC was tight all game, with Villanova leading 74-71, with just ten seconds to go in the game. North Carolina’s Marcus Paige got the ball and knew he needed to put a shot up to try and tie the game. As the defender dove to tip the pass, Paige looked to be open for a deep three, but Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono came charging at him, to make a last-ditch defensive attempt. Paige double clutched and let the ball fly and, just as the millions of basketball fans looking on, watched the ball circle the rim once and fall to tie the game with just 4.7 seconds remaining. What was looking like an overtime continuation all changed as Villanova inbounded the ball to senior guard Arcidiacono, running up the court to throw up one more shot. UNC covered the paint to prevent an easy bucket, and also stuck Arcidiacono to prevent the long range shot. They were so focused on Villanova’s best player throughout the tournament that they forgot to watch the trailing inbounder Kris Jenkins, who was flipped the ball by Arcidiacono with a second to go. Jenkins put up a deep three and watched it sink as time expired to give Villanova their second ever NCAA championship. This game goes down as one of the best NCAA finals games ever.

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As June rolled around, the NBA playoffs were in full swing and fans were looking at a 2015 Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavilers. The Warriors finished the regular season with the best record in the history of the NBA at 73-9, one more win than the win-total of the NBA Champion 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Golden State took a commanding 3-1 lead with game 5 and game 7 to be played at home. Draymond Green was suspended for game 5 and Cleveland took advantage of this, defeating the Warriors on the road. They did the job in game 6 as well, tying the series at 3-3 and setting up a series-ending game 7 to be played at Oracle Arena in Oakland against the best team in the history of the NBA. A 3-1 lead had never been blown in NBA finals history. In what was a nail biter from the tip-off, the Cavs had the ball with less than a minute to go in a tie game. Kyrie Irving stepped up into the face of Steph Curry, the league’s reigning two-time MVP and drained a clutch 3-pointer to put them up by three. This three-pointer would end up being the game winner, as Golden State would fail to score again, with a symbolic LeBron James block on Andre Iguodala to seal the deal earlier in the game. The win made Cleveland the first team ever to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and brought the franchise its first ever championship, and the city’s first in 52 years. LeBron James had finally fulfilled his promise bring home a championship to the city of Cleveland.

After a long summer of America’s pastime, October baseball finally came to fruition and the World Series featured the two longest World Series droughts in baseball. The Chicago Cubs had their infamous 108 year drought, and the Cleveland Indians had a lesser-known 68 year drought of their own. After Cleveland went up 3-1 in the series, the Cubbies rallied back to tie it at 3-3 and set up one of the best game sevens in baseball history. Chicago took a lead early as Dexter Fowler led off the game with a solo homer deep into centerfield. This lead that would eventually jump to 5-1 in the 5th inning and then 6-3 as the bottom of the 8th came around. Aroldis Chapman, one of the game’s best closers came in for the Cubs and got two quick outs in what seemed like the nearing end of the game. Chapman then surrendered two important hits which included a scored run, and brought Rajai Davis to the plate. Davis pulled a line drive on a 2-2 pitch deep down the left-field, which landed over the high wall in Progressive Field to tie the game at 6. As extra innings started, the Cubs were able to get two men on base when Ben Zobrist smacked a double into left field, scoring one and putting two runners in scoring position. They’d tally one more run to end the inning and lead the game 8-6 going to the bottom of the tenth. After two quick outs, the Indians got a man in scoring position, and again Rajai Davis came thru with a two out hit that cut the deficit to one. The next batter, Michael Martinez swung at an 0-1 pitch that was slowly grounded to third. NL MVP Kris Bryant charged the hit and fielded the ball by making a strong throw to Anthony Rizzo at first despite slipping to break the 108 year drought and make the Chicago Cubs World Series Champions.

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The next big game came in the form of the third installment of the College Football Playoff Championship featuring a rematch of the Clemson Tigers and the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a pair of Bo Scarbrough rushing touchdowns. After 3 quarters of football, Alabama led 24-14. However, potential top-ten NFL draft pick Deshaun Watson drove his team down the field twice in the fourth quarter, giving Clemson the lead with just 4:38 left. Jalen Hurts, the freshman Alabama quarterback, capped off the following drive with a 30-yard rushing touchdown, leaving Clemson with 2:07 left to operate. Fortunately that’s all the time that the two time Davey O’Brien award winner needed as he methodically marched his team down the field and hit Hunter Renfrow on a two-yard pass to give Clemson the lead, making them National Champions, as well as preventing an Alabama repeat.

The final crazy championship game to cap off any 2016 season was the Big Game: Super Bowl 51 between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta dominated the first half as they led 21-3 before Lady Gaga jumped off the top of Reliant Stadium in the halftime show. As the second half proceeded, Matt Ryan hit Tevin Coleman for a touchdown to extend the lead to 28-3 midway through the third. It looked as though Atlanta was going to run away with the game, as no team had ever come back from a Super Bowl deficit of more than 10. No team who trailed by more than two scores, though, had Tom Brady. The Pats then marched down the field three times, cutting the margin to 28-20 with under six minutes to go. Matty Ice and the Falcons’ offense had trouble all 4th quarter with running enough of the clock down. As Brady got the ball back with three and a half minutes to go, he again drove down the field and hit Julian Edelman on an absolutely ridiculous 23 yard catch in triple coverage that was tipped and bobbled multiple times and somehow ended up in Edelman’s hands while keeping it half an inch off the ground. The drive was capped with a one-yard James White rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion to Danny Amendola to tie the game at 28 with under a minute left. This regulation ending put the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time ever. New England won the toss and elected to receive, and Tom Brady made sure that the league’s MVP never stepped onto the field. He led his team down the field and handed the ball off to who else but James White as he pushed for two yards and crossed the plane for his third touchdown of the game. This gave Brady his record fifth Super Bowl ring and fourth Super Bowl MVP award and cemented Belichick and Brady as the best Coach-Quarterback duo of all time.

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The Super Bowl ended what was easily one of the best years in sports in recent memory and possibly of all-time. Each championship game was filled with heroes and villains; sometimes the Hero came through and in others, the villain crushed the hearts of many opposing sport fans. Altogether, it was an incredibly dramatic and exciting year in sports. Can 2017 top 2016?

Why the Yankees’ Future is so Bright

After the Yankees unloaded their assets last season at the trade deadline, fans were ecstatic to see their Baby Bombers play in August and September. Despite finishing five games back of a Wild Card spot, these youngsters kept the Yankees in contention throughout the rest of the season. The middle infield tandem of Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius became exciting to watch, both in the field and at the dish. We watched Gary Sanchez blast his way into Rookie of the Year conversation while playing just two months in the big leagues. Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin both had glimpses of greatness as well. Greg Bird will be back from injury and likely take the helm at first base to replace the retired Mark Teixeira. Fans are excited to watch these young promising talents grow more in this upcoming season.

While the 2017 Yankees are shaping up to be athletic and exciting, let’s not forget about the Yankees’ stacked farm system which some consider to be the best in baseball. We all know ginger sensation Clint Frazier, who was the key piece in the Andrew Miller trade with Cleveland. Stud infield prospect Gleyber Torres is another future asset for the Yankees. Torres has been said to be the best prospect in baseball, and was the youngest Arizona Fall League MVP ever, where he hit over .400.

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Yankees star prospect Gleyber Torres

While we know a whole lot about those two young men, there is so much more talent than just those two within the  Yankees system ready to get their crack at the big leagues. Luis Severino, Luis Cessa and Chad Green all have potential, but have seen early struggles as starters. Even if these guys don’t pan out, the Yankees have multiple legitimate pitching prospects for the first time in a very long time. Former first round pick James Kaprielian, southpaw Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo are all considered to be within the Yankees’ top ten prospects. Dillion Tate and Albert Abreu, who came via trade from Texas and Houston respectively, are considered to be a few big name prospects to be acquired by the Yankees as of late. Tate was the fourth overall selection in the 2015 amateur player draft.

While the Yankees made their farm system elite by trading many of their veterans, they have a plethora of homegrown talent as well. Aforementioned Sanchez, Judge, Austin, Bird and Kaprielian are all homegrown guys, as well as speedster Jorge Mateo, 2016 first round pick Blake Rutherford, slugger Miguel Andujar, and future gold glover Dustin Fowler. All of these prospects have the potential to be future All-Stars.

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Yankees prospect Miguel Andujar

With all of this young talent just down the road and with big money contracts like A-Rod and Teixeira now off the books along with CC Sabathia’s contract set to expire at the end of the 2016 season, the Yankees will be prepared to make a free agency splash. This likely wouldn’t occur until after this upcoming season, but the 2018 free agent class looks to be promising. Multiple MVP honors recipients like Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper will be available barring re-signing, as well as All-Stars Manny Machado, Dee Gordon and Adam Jones. The pitching class features some CY Young winners in Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel, as well as Matt Harvey and Jose Quintana. David Price could make an appearance in free agency as well, should he opt out of his deal with Boston.

With all of the prospects at the Yankees’ disposal along with the extra space being made for the insane 2018 free agency class, the future is brighter than ever for the Yankees. Don’t be surprised to see another Yankee dynasty coming to the Bronx.

 

The Death of the All-Star Game

I remember growing up and being excited for the All-Star game and all of the events that went with it. All-Star games are home to some of the most iconic moments in sports history, whether it’s the Dwight Howard “Superman” dunk, or the Gerald Green story, where he went from D-League nobody to Slam Dunk Champion. There is the MLB Home Run Derby in 2008 when Josh Hamilton sent 28 home runs, in a single round, into the summer night sky at Yankee Stadium. As of late, we have seen many side events for all-stars to have some fun in front of their fans be introduced and advertised extensively. These competitions have kept All-Star festivities from tanking and have revitalized all-star weekends all across sports.

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Even with all of these exciting events, the All-Star game itself has struggled to generate excitement. We saw the MLB go as far as having the All-Star game determine which league has home-field advantage in the World Series, and thanks to the new CBA, that rule no longer applies. We’ve seen the NFL try the “unconferenced” format, where teams are drafter player by player instead of being split by conference. Recently, the NHL has switched to the 3 on 3 format to try and bring more excitement to the festivities.

However, no matter what each league has attempted to do, to spike popularity, the viewership still seems to decrease every season. People don’t care about seeing the game’s best play in an exhibition game, because it today’s era of sports, fans have the ability to utilize the media to see players play in meaningful games and make highlight reel plays at the touch of a button. The evolution of television has taken away all of the excitement and anticipation from the All-Star games as well.

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With All-Star viewership at an all-time low in all four major sports, but with leagues looking to still cash in from All-Star games and festivities, don’t expect any of them to go away anytime soon. Instead, expect to see more players pull of the game in order to avoid the risk of injury. Additionally, expect the viewership of these games to continue to plummet. While All-Star games may continue to be played each season, they no longer serve a purpose or have the allure to the everyday fan that they used to have. Hopefully, the raw skill exhibited by the best in the game will be enough to get viewership to spike in a time when athletes are as transcendent as they have ever been.

MLB Pre-Spring Training Predictions for the Season

The 2016 MLB season ended in a way no season had ended in 108 years, with the Chicago Cubs on top as the World Series Champions. After a long offseason of free agency and a couple blockbuster trades, Spring Training is finally right around the corner. With that, we have a an idea of what every team’s roster will look like come Opening Day, which means that we can finally do what us fans love to do in making predictions so that by the time October rolls around, we can turn to our friends and say, “I told you so”.

National League Division Winners

East- Washington Nationals
Expect Bryce Harper to have a much anticipated bounce back season, and adding Adam Eaton showed us all that the Nats are in win now mode.

Central- Chicago Cubs
It would be hard to believe that someone could take the Central crown away from the Cubs this season. We hope to get a full season out of Kyle Schwarber, and the addition of Wade Davis will fill Aroldis Chapman’s spot in the 9th.

West- San Francisco Giants
The Giants’ prevalence in this decade may be over, but adding Mark Melancon in the back of the bullpen to pair with the Giants’ rotations gives them a great chance to end the Dodgers streak of four straight NL West titles.

Wild Card 1- St. Louis Cardinals
Adding Dexter Fowler to replace Matt Holliday makes the Cardinals a littler young and a whole lot more athletic. Expect them to make some noise as they usually do.

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Wild Card 2- Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s tough to keep this team out the playoffs with the depth of pitching they have, along with young superstar Corey Seager. Clayton Kershaw in a one game playoff? Yes please.

American League Division Winners

East- Boston Red Sox
Adding Chris Sale to the already talented roster of the defending AL East Champs makes this a no brainer. The dominant pitching, paired young superstars all over field will make Sox fans quickly get over Big Papi’s retirement.

Central- Detroit Tigers
The Tigers had a bit of a down season last year, but expect guys like Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Jordan Zimmerman to all have bounce-back seasons and bring Detroit into playoff contention.

West- Texas Rangers
A full season of Yu Darvish paired with Cole Hamels gives the Rangers a nasty two-headed ace.  Jonathan Lucroy is also back for another season, giving the Rangers a great chance to repeat as AL West champs.

Wild Card 1- Cleveland Indians
It’s hard to keep the defending AL pennant winner out of the playoffs, but it will be interesting to see how Terry Francona uses Andrew Miller and Cody Allen out of the bullpen during the regular season. The Indians are hungry for some more playoff action.

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Wild Card 2- Seattle Mariners
After falling short of a wild card spot last season, the Mariners spent the off season adding pitching and outfield depth to their roster. Adding the likes of Drew Smyly, Yovani Gallardo, and Jarrod Dyson, this may be the year that the Mariners get back to the postseason for the first time since 2001.

Manager of the Year (MOTY)

National League- Bruce Bochy
The addition of Mark Melancon gives Bochy a solid man in the back of his bullpen. With this acquisition, Bochy can move other pieces around in the bullpen to bridge the starters and the closer more effectively, on the road to capturing the NL West crown and the MOTY award.

American League- Brad Ausmus
After missing the playoffs last season, expect Ausmus to get his veterans back on track this season and win the Central division over the defending American league champion Cleveland Indians.

Rookie of the Year

National League- Dansby Swanson
The former #1 overall pick logged 129 at bats last season, leaving him one at bat short of qualifying for rookie status in 2016. Now, in 2017, he will get the chance to play 160 games at shortstop, and if his numbers are anything like his 2016 sample, expect him to run away with it.

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American League- James Kaprielian
Who? The Yankees 2015 first round pick out of UCLA likely won’t break camp in the big leagues, with the likeliest option being that he starts 2017 in AA. However, with the Yankees pitching staff filled with injury-prone and unproven pitchers, expect to see Kaprielian well before September call-ups. 

CY Young

National League- Madison Bumgarner
If the Giants want to make a deep run in 2017, they’ll need Mad Bum to be the dominant pitcher we know he can be. After a somewhat down year with only 15 wins, expect him to come into 2017 and flirt with 20 wins all while keeping his ERA down in the 2.7s.

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American League- Chris Sale
Expect a big season out of Sale in his first stint in Boston. The dominant southpaw will, for the first time in his career, have run support and expect him to take full advantage of it in 2017.

Most Valuable Player (MVP)

National League- Bryce Harper
Despite a very much a down season for the young superstar, look for Harper to put up similar numbers to his 2015 campaign and take home the league’s Most Valuable Player award for the second time in three seasons.

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American League- Mookie Betts
After a monster season in 2016, and finishing second in the MVP voting, expect Betts to continue to grow as a player and take home the hardware as the AL’s best player. Betts will lead his Red Sox teammates to the playoffs and onward. 

Pennant Winners

National League- Washington Nationals
With Harper returning to MVP form and the other pieces the team has to offer, the Nats can reach their first world series since moving to Washington. Things are looking up for the Nationals.

American League- Boston Red Sox
With a rotation that features two aces along with the reigning CY Young award winner, it is going to be tough to hit against the Sox. Putting with their high powered offense into the mix makes it hard to imagine that the Sox don’t make it back to Series as long as everyone stays healthy.

World Series Champion- Boston Red Sox
As long as everything goes as planned in Boston, they’ll win 100 plus games, and the city of Boston will have another ticker tape parade come October/early November.

Why West Virginia, Not Kansas, Will Win the Big 12

Over the past few seasons, the Big 12 has arguably taken the throne as the best College Basketball conference in the country. No team has been able to knock the University of Kansas from the top spot of the conference. Kansas has taken every Big 12 regular season championship since 2005, dominating stellar teams like Kevin Durant’s Texas Longhorns and Marcus Smart’s Oklahoma State Cowboys. Not even Buddy Hield’s prolific 2016 Oklahoma Sooners could knock Kansas off from the top spot in the conference. Kansas has been led by Mario Chalmers, the Morris twins, Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis in recent times and has always prevailed in the end.

The Jayhawks face a difficult road this year if they want to make it thirteen regular season titles in a row, as they are currently part of trio of Big 12 teams who rank inside the AP Poll’s top 25. Both Baylor and West Virginia have a chance to knock off Kansas to give the Big 12 a new conference champion for the first time since 2004. Baylor had the early season advantage to be that team as they carried an undefeated record and the #1 spot in the AP Poll for a considerable chunk of time, until they visited Morgantown and were dominated by the Mountaineers by a score of 89-68.

So why is West Virginia the team to finally end Kansas’ dominance? The simple answer: the press.  Nicknamed Press Virginia, coach Bub Huggins’ squad has become the most feared defense in all of college basketball. Playing against West Virginia is forty minutes of non-stop pressure and traps all over the court. This team wants you to be as far out of your comfort zone as possible. Huggins started the press-oriented offense three seasons ago to make up for a lack of talent, and despite tons of fouls and many easy transition baskets given up, the Mountaineers still finished with a sweet sixteen appearance. Last season, the Mountaineers improved as  ateam and earned a three-seed in the NCAA tournament. This season, the press has been a nightmare to other teams, as West Virginia has been forcing an average of 24.6 turnovers per game, which is about one in every three opponent possessions. As a team, they are rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. West Virginia is the only team in the nation who ranks inside the top five of both categories.

West Virginia has the statistical backing to prove themselves to be one of the best teams in college basketball, paired with their 15-4 (4-3) record and #18 ranking in the latest AP Poll. Two recent heartbreaking losses has been the reason for West Virginia’s recent fall out of the top ten in the AP poll, where they were ranked #7. However, these two losses came to conference teams by a total sum of six points. Expect West Virginia to come back strong and be the team to finally knock Kansas off from the top of the Big 12, as well as compete for a national title come March.