After a disappointing football season, West Virginia University fans were hoping for something to cheer about when basketball coach Bobby Huggins led his seventh squad into action against Mount St. Marys in early November.
However, WVU finds itself with an 8-5 mark, no victories over ranked opponents and the opening of Big 12 play just three days away.
Not all is doom and gloom even though WVU struggled to a 6-12 conference mark in its first season in its new home last year.
West Virginia will open Big 12 play on the road with games at TCU and Texas Tech.
The Horned Frogs are 9-3 following a 77-64 win over Texas Southern on Sunday, but, like the Mountaineers, are still looking for that 'statement' victory that will put them in the national limelight while Tech has had the same up-and-down non-conference season as WVU.
A pair of wins would do wonders as the Mountaineers open home Big 12 play against No. 7 Oklahoma State and then follow up that game two days later against a Texas team that is receiving a lot more national attention than the team in old gold and blue.
If there is one thing that fans discovered during last year's inaugural campaign, it was that no Big 12 game is an easy one and that winning on the road is nice, but winning at home is critical, especially if your end goal is to make the postseason.
The numbers are simple. With only eight non-conference victories, WVU needs 12 conference wins to accomplish a 20-win season-the 21st for a Huggins led squad-and an almost guaranteed bid to the NCAA tournament.
But, reaching that number will be a formidable task when you have a schedule that includes the Cowboys, No. 9 Baylor, No. 13 Iowa State, No. 16 Kansas and an Oklahoma team that is receiving several votes in both the AP and USA Today polls.
But, playing in a 10-team conference means that you have to sweep a pair of games from several opponents.
WVU also could accomplish the feat by taking both games from the Longhorns, Texas Tech and TCU-all of whom were picked to finish lower than the Mountaineers in the preseason media poll-and split games with the remaining six teams.
Not as impossible as it seems.
This year's team has shown as much ability to put points on the scoreboard as it has to come up short in games. If Eron Harris and his teammates can do more of the former and less of the latter, then West Virginia could be dancing in March.
Coach Mike Carey has WVU rolling after an 11-1 non-conference season and his team was picked to finish no worse than third behind Oklahoma and Baylor.
I couldn't think of a better way to forget the fall than having a pair of Mountaineer basketball teams playing in March.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com