Beginning with Saturday night's visit to Texas, WVU plays four of its six remaining games against teams in the top 30 of the RPI and another against a top-60 team. There are road games against Texas (26), Iowa State (12) and Oklahoma (21) and home games against Baylor (55), TCU (196) and Kansas, which even after a Monday night overtime loss at Kansas State is No. 1 in the RPI.
"This is a hard league, man,'' Huggins said. "This is a hard, hard league.''
West Virginia's players know the numbers and they know how difficult the path is. They know because Huggins tells them daily.
"I don't lie to them,'' Huggins said. "I think the worst thing that can happen is at the end of the year they say to me, 'I wish you would have told us.' I've done it all along.
"There are people who say, 'Well, are you putting pressure on them?' If I was them I'd want to know. I'd want to know what you've got to do - what our RPI is, what the people's RPI is we're playing and what we've got to do to get our RPI in the range where we're talked about as an NCAA tournament team.''
Still, what the Mountaineers have to do in order to be in that discussion is, as always, murky. Consider that two years ago, when WVU made the NCAA tournament field for the fifth consecutive year, the Mountaineers were 16-9 after 25 games, just one game ahead of this year's pace. But that team had a superior resume because it played far better in the non-conference portion of the schedule. It went into the final weeks of the regular season with an RPI in the low 40s and a strength of schedule in the top 10.
Because of that, the Mountaineers could afford to finish the regular season 3-3 and lose the first game of the Big East tournament to Connecticut and still get into the field at 19-13. That same scenario (a 3-3 finish and a one-and-done in the Big 12 tourney) is not likely to be enough with a No. 66 RPI at this point.
So winning more than half the remaining games - or at a minimum making sure the wins are against the best of those teams - would appear to be imperative.
Regardless of the overall picture, though, West Virginia still has to look at the short term rather than the long term. A win Saturday at Texas brings things a bit closer and a loss pushes them further away, but the reality is there are still a lot of games to play.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint,'' Huggins said. "We're marathon guys. It's a long year.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.