MORGANTOWN — Three Big Monday appearances will force the West Virginia men’s basketball team into three quick-turnarounds, but the Mountaineers will only have one late 9 p.m. start in Big 12 play other than those nationally-televised Monday games.
That’s some of the good news for West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, who has spent the past six seasons working with the Big 12 to help find some fairness in the Mountaineers’ league schedule.
WVU’s appearances on Big Monday: vs. Baylor (Jan. 21), at Texas Tech (Feb. 4) and vs. Kansas State (Feb. 18). The fourth 9 p.m. start comes Jan. 5, at Texas, when West Virginia is still on Christmas break.
In recent years, Huggins has stressed that 9 p.m. starts for the Mountaineers — especially for mid-week games — has hurt West Virginia, since it loses an hour traveling back from the Central Time Zone to Morgantown.
West Virginia generally arrives home from a late Big 12 road game between 3-4 a.m., and then students may have class hours later.
The Big 12 schedule-makers cut back the Mountaineers’ weekday road trips this season, but it does come at a cost.
Once the spring semester begins, the Mountaineers will have three mid-week road games — at Kansas State (Jan. 9), at TCU (Jan. 15), at Iowa State (Jan. 30), but all three are 7 p.m. starts.
WVU had six road mid-week games last season.
The tradeoff is West Virginia will be on the road for the final four Saturdays of the regular season and were not scheduled to play its first two conference games on the road — while school was still out of session — which had been the case for the previous five seasons.
One final observation: The Mountaineers will have a full week to prepare for its Feb. 16 game at Kansas. The Jayhawks have a road game at TCU that previous Monday, while the Mountaineers do not have a mid-week game.
The Big 12 also announced that this season’s Big 12/SEC Challenge game against Tennessee, on Jan. 26, will tip-off at 4 p.m.
WVU is 1-4 in the Challenge.