The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 15, 2010

Top 10 matchup at home a rare sight

MORGANTOWN — It comes around about as often as Haley’s Comet, what will transpire at noon on Saturday in the Coliseum.

West Virginia University, ranked No. 9 in the country, will host Syracuse, ranked No. 5, in a Big East game of cosmic proportions.

This matchup of Top 10 teams in Morgantown is so rare that occurs only every half century.

Honest.

Last time was — now sit down because you aren’t going to believe this — was on Jan. 16, 1960, exactly 50 years ago to the day when No. 9 Villanova came to Morgantown to face Jerry West’s No. 3-ranked Mountaineers.

The final score that day was West Virginia 89, Villanova 81.

How far back was that?

Well, there was no Coliseum then, only Stansbury Hall.

Heck, it was so long ago that Jim Boeheim, who it seems has coached at Syracuse since Jim Brown was a freshman there, was still three years away from enrolling at the school as a freshman.

As for Bob Huggins, the West Virginia coach who has been around so long that he possesses more than 600 victories, he was all of 7 years old at the time.

“I was very fortune to play against (Boeheim’s) teams,” Huggins reminded anyone who would listen on Thursday’s Big East Conference coaches call. “That says how old he is and how young I am.”

Half right, Hugs.

The truth is this is what West Virginia had in mind when it entered the Big East back in 1996. The school was looking for a higher profile, for a chance to play at the top level of college basketball.

It was also what West Virginia had in mind when it hired Huggins, who taken Cincinnati and rebuilt it into a team that could play at that level, in many ways much as he had done here. At Cincinnati, the shadow of Oscar Robertson laid over the basketball program, Robertson and West having been the greatest players of their era.

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