MORGANTOWN - The NCAA tournament selection committee rarely takes into account how a team wins or loses games, just whether they win or lose and who they play.
That's too bad for West Virginia's case this season, because the Mountaineers have had a whole bunch of losses that could easily have been wins but for one or two mistakes late.
Heading into Saturday's noon regular-season finale against surging South Florida (19-11 overall, 12-5 Big East) at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, West Virginia (18-12, 8-9) is thisclose to having three or four or more wins. While it might not matter in the long run - the Mountaineers still have a chance to make the NCAA tournament despite those close losses - it would have made the regular-season end game a whole lot easier.
For instance, while losing seven of nine games during its darkest stretch, the Mountaineers lost to No. 2 Syracuse, No. 8 Marquette, No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 19 Louisville by a combined 10 points. The losses to the two Top 10 teams in that group came by a combined three points.
Bob Huggins, of course, knows all too well how close his team has come.
"I talked to [Kentucky coach John Calipari earlier this week] and he said, 'I watch your team, Huggs, and you're not that far away from being good,' '' Huggins said. "Which is kind of what I said a week ago, but we just don't finish anything.''
Indeed, finishing has been the issue all along. Consider that in each of those four losses West Virginia was either ahead down the stretch and/or had the ball with a chance to win at the end and didn't.