MORGANTOWN - It was roughly 15 minutes after West Virginia's Big East tournament ended before it had a chance to begin late Wednesday night when, in a largely silent locker room, Cam Thoroughman could pretty much guess what his next few days would entail.
It will all center around the mood of Bob Huggins after the Mountaineers laid an egg in a 67-61 loss to Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
"Probably not too good,'' Thoroughman said when asked how he figured his coach would react to the loss. "Maybe we'll have a day or two to rest and then come back in there with not a very happy guy.''
Indeed, the Mountaineers could have made life significantly easier for themselves had they simply played to their potential - or even in the neighborhood of their potential - in the Big East tournament. They did so only in short spurts.
For the most part, though, West Virginia played sloppily with the ball, had more defensive breakdowns than in the previous four games combined and now face the prospect of heading into the NCAA tournament next week not on a high, but once again fighting to figure out what went wrong.
Yes, with this team it only takes one game like that to skew the perception.
That's because this is a group that has no real stars or outstanding playmakers, so if they aren't executing and getting every ounce of effort they can look completely overmatched.
When the Mountaineers go through a run of five games like they did at the end of the regular season, beating Notre Dame, Connecticut and Louisville along the way, it illustrates what can be accomplished even without superior talent. Everyone looks at this team and thinks, wow, look at what teamwork and effort can accomplish.
But then when the same group isn't on its game, the chorus is, wow, these guys just aren't that good.
The truth, of course, probably rests somewhere in between, but the bottom line is still the same: Some nights WVU can be very good and others very average.
How does that bode for WVU in the NCAA tournament that, for all practical purposes, begins Sunday night when the brackets are announced and work begins?
Well, that's no easier to predict than was the outcome of West Virginia's trip to the Big East tournament. This is a team that could have won it all or won nothing.
This week it was nothing. Next week, who knows?
The bracket predictions for West Virginia changed only slightly with Wednesday night's loss, but even slight changes in a complex bracket can carry great significance.
And this slight change comes with a delicious twist.
Both Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Jerry Palm, writing for cbssportsline.com, dropped the Mountaineers from a fifth seed to a sixth seed in their Thursday bracket projections. Both still had West Virginia playing at a first-round site on this side of the country, one in Tampa, Fla., and the other in Charlotte, N.C.