Then again, both times West Virginia had at least a one-round bye, the Mountaineers lost to a team that warmed up with a first-round game, including last year against Marquette. It's understandable, then, that Huggins had mixed feelings about surprisingly sliding into the eighth and final bye position when Seton Hall lost at DePaul on Saturday.
WVU is one of four teams that get a pass through the first round. Four others get a two-round bye into the Thursday quarterfinals.
"I think you have mixed feelings about it,'' Huggins said. "I think we're the only team since they instituted the double bye that's won [the tournament] with a double bye. I think sometimes you get the jitters out or whatever the first game.
"But it helps us in the long run. If we can get by Connecticut and beat Syracuse it sure helps us.''
On Wednesday, though, the Mountaineers are most likely to play a team that a year ago proved that even a one-round bye isn't necessary. Connecticut was in the same position in 2011 with the No. 9 seed and won five games in five days to win the tournament.
Perhaps, though, West Virginia will get a boost from this being its last appearance in the tournament. The cornerstones around which this year's team is built are seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant. Jones is playing a short train ride from his home in Mount Vernon, just north of the city, and Bryant is subway token away from his in Brooklyn. Starting freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds is also from Mount Vernon and backup center Dominique Rutledge is another short train ride from his home in Newark, N.J.
That's not quite like it was in 2010, when a WVU team whose entire starting five was made up of New York area players - including Jones and Bryant. But the Garden still has a special place for a lot of this year's team.
"It means a lot. It's where I'm from, playing metro basketball,'' said Jones. "It would be special winning there not only in the program's last time going there but my last time, too.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.