MORGANTOWN -- When West Virginia and Michigan agreed to play this season in a made-for-TV game at Brooklyn's new Barclays Center, it seemed to have all the elements of a terrific matchup with an intriguing plot line.
That plot line is, of course, still there. West Virginia's last two ultra-successful coaches will match wits - current Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins, he of the 714 career victories, and his predecessor, John Beilein, who rebuilt the WVU program before moving on to Michigan.
The terrific matchup on the court? Well, that remains to be seen. Judging by the way the season has played out so far, it's more of a mismatch than a great matchup, at least on paper. That was made even more so Friday when junior center Aaric Murray did not make the trip to New York for unknown reasons.
"Obviously, we thought that at this time we were going to be better than what we've been. I think everybody felt that,'' Huggins said. "I think people thought it would be a marquee national game and we haven't held up our end of the bargain.''
Still, the game goes on and anything can happen. The two teams meet at 8 p.m. today at that shiny new facility and it will be telecast on ESPN.
While West Virginia (4-4) has struggled mightily this season, Michigan has had no such troubles. Beilein's team is a perfect 10-0 and ranked No. 3 in both major polls. The Wolverines haven't even had many close calls, despite playing what the Rating Percentage Index currently calls the No. 19 schedule in the country. The closest was a five-point win over Pitt at Madison Square Garden, and the only other single-digit wins were over then-No. 18 North Carolina State and Bradley.
Michigan's average margin of victory is more than 21 points.
All of which has created a rather odd circumstance for Beilein. In his 35 years of coaching, his teams were generally considered overachievers. Even in his five years at West Virginia, the Mountaineers were seldom the big kids on the block, usually winning their biggest games as decided underdogs. Ditto his first five seasons at Michigan.
This year, that's not the case. That 10-0 record and No. 3 ranking - No. 2 in the RPI - assures that.
"It is different,'' Beilein said. "I've always been very comfortable in the underdog role.''
Still, the team that West Virginia will face tonight is not exactly a seasoned, been-through-it-all group. In fact, five of the nine players that Beilein seems to have settled on for now in his rotation are true freshmen - two starters and three of the primary four off the bench.