PITTSBURGH - If West Virginia's opening game in the NCAA tournament tonight is anything but a rough, physical, no-blood-no-foul kind of event, the Mountaineers are going to be very disappointed.
But so, too, will Gonzaga.
In fact, that was pretty much all either side seemed thrilled to talk about on the eve of the game.
The travel difference of WVU playing 75 miles from home and higher-seeded Gonzaga 2,200 miles? The Zags are used to it.
The relationship between old friends Bob Huggins and Mark Few? After 30 years, Huggins can't go anywhere without running into old coaching buddies.
Two teams with heavy doses of freshman contributors? Hey, doesn't it balance out?
But ask about physical play and the floodgates open.
"Yeah, we see the Mountaineers play. They're on ESPN quite a bit,'' Gonzaga's 7-foot, 260-pound senior center Robert Sacre said. "We know Huggins' style of play. We're all prepared for that.''
As will be West Virginia when the No. 10 seeded Mountaineers (19-13) face seventh-seeded Gonzaga (25-6) tonight at Consol Energy Center. The 7:20 p.m. game will be televised by TNT, with the winner advancing to play Saturday against the winner of tonight's second game between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 15 Loyola (Md.).
In fact, to a degree, at least one Mountaineer seems amused at the notion that Gonzaga feels it is just as physical as WVU.
"I think they're very physical in their conference. But we play Big East,'' said the most physical Mountaineer, 6-foot-9, 260-pound Deniz Kilicli. "I play guys like Sacre and [6-7, 240-pound junior Elias] Harris 16 times, 17 times, you know?
"So I think they're not going to be as prepared as we are. They're definitely physical and they want to play physical. So we'll see what's going to happen. But I think we're going to beat them on the physical end.''