While coverage of West Virginia point guard Darryl Bryant's season-ending injury dominated the media sessions today, this really could be a game decided by bigs, not gurads.
West Virginia typically starts 6-foot-9 Devin Ebanks, 6-8 Kevin Jones, and 6-7 Wellington Smith and De’Sean Butler. With 6-foot-2 point guard Darryl Bryant out due to a foot injury, the Mountaineers could get even taller if coach Bob Huggins chooses to insert another forward instead of 6-foot-2 reserve point guard Joe Mazzulla.
That means one WVU starter as big as Matthew Bryan-Amaning – UW’s tallest regular at 6-foot-9 – and at least three others taller than any other UW starter.
“We’re still going to play the same way,” Bryan-Amaning said. “And with all those guys on the court that are around my height, we’ve got bodies: myself, Tyreese, Darnell (Gant), Quincy all playing inside. That’s going to help us, and I don’t think it’s going to be as much of a disadvantage as people might think it might be.”
A quick look at the big game:
No. 11 seed WASHINGTON (26-9)vs. No. 2 seed West Virginia (29-6)
NCAA tournament, Sweet 16.When: Approximately 4:27 p.m. Thursday, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.TV: Channel 7. Radio: 950-AM.Region: East.
Series: Washington won the only previous meeting, 96-79, in the 1993 Far West Classic in Portland. Washington is 10-18 against Big East teams and 1-1 this season with a loss to Georgetown and a win over Marquette.
Scouting report: West Virginia will be without starting point guard Darryl Bryant, who broke his right foot in practice Tuesday and is done for the season. He may be replaced in the starting lineup by Joe Mazzulla, a redshirt junior who has 15 assists over his last three games. Or coach Bob Huggins indicated he might go with a five-forward lineup. … WVU’s other top four starters stand 6-foot-7 or taller – that is, taller than any UW starter except 6-foot-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning. … The Huskies average 79.9 points per game, while West Virginia has allowed that many points only three times this season. They are 1-2 in those games. … The Mountaineers were ranked sixth in the final Associated Press poll, their highest final ranking since 1960. … West Virginia has won eight games in a row and 10 of its last 11. Washington has won nine in a row and 14 of its last 16. … The Mountaineers are 10-0 at neutral sites. … West Virginia led the Big East in rebounding margin and offensive rebounding percentage, and was second in scoring defense. … Individually, Da’Sean Butler was named to the all-Big East first team, and Devin Ebanks to the third team. … Butler is third on the school’s career scoring list. … Three of Washington’s last six NCAA tournament appearances have been ended by Big East teams: UConn in 1998 and 2006, and Louisville in 2005.
The stakes: The winner advances to the Elite Eight on Saturday, meeting the winner of Thursday's Cornell-Kentucky match. The loser’s season ends.