If everyone who bought a ticket comes out today we could hit 13K for the TCU game …
— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) March 1, 2014
I suppose it’s fair to mention that history is on the line because TCU, while infested by injury bugs, is so close to being historically bad. So close.
The Horned Frogs have a 15-game losing streak, all of it in Big 12 play, after going 9-3 in non-conference competition. The .750 winning percentage outside of league play was the best since going 11-3 in the 1999-2000 season.
A WVU win today would make TCU just the third team to start 0-16 in Big 12 play. The 1998-99 Baylor team and the 2003-04 Texas A&M squads started and finished 0-16. TCU could be the first to go 0-18. This is the third season with 18 games — and the Big 12 has been a thing since the 1996-97 season — and teams have gotten close to 0-18 twice, including 2-16 TCU last season. Texas Tech was closer at 1-17 a year before.
But wait, there’s more. The conference record for consecutive losses is 20 games (Baylor, 2004-06), though the Horned Frogs, with four games remaining, are unlikely to tie or set that one because of a probably cozy home opener next season. The record 19 straight Big 12 losses (that same Bayor team) could happen in January. TCU has lost all 17 of its Big 12 road games, and hasn’t won a conference road game since Feb. 20, 2012, but is a long way from Colorado’s 35-game Big 12 road losing streak (2006-10).
Nevertheless, WVU can and honestly ought to keep all those things going today and has to be counting this one when Bob Huggins maintains confidence that his team can make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.
But will it be so easy? Projections say “YES”, all caps, and I imagine that’s because TCU plays slowly on offense and a 2-3 zone on defense and to minimize possessions and manage weaknesses, of which there are many.
That’s a danger against WVU because WVU can get hot, especially at home, where the points per possession is 1.22. That’s a big number. WVU’s overall PPP is 1.13, which is No. 34 nationally. In the road/neutral/Civic Center games, the PPP is 1.05.
The ways around that? TCU would have to force and avoid turnovers, rebound dominantly and make 3-pointers.
Those are all startling weaknesses for the Horned Frogs. No team has turned it over more or turned opponents over fewer times that TCU. The rebounding margin is the worst in overall games and conference games (minus-14.3!), as are the 3-point shooting percentages.
And here’s the highlighted stat. TCU has made the fewest baskets in Big 12 games (290) and all games (571). The second lowest totals are 82 and 109 baskets better. That’s crazy in this league, and because I can’t stop fixating upon this, TCU averages 19.3 baskets per game in Big 12 competition. That’s a half against WVU!
Their margin for error is super small and they’ll be without Amric Fields, who will miss a third straight game with injury. Five players are out for the season with injuries. That doesn’t help.
Best case for the Horned Frogs? It’s not far-fetched, actually. The have an elite scorer and the kind that can give WVU’s conference-worst defense fits. Kyan Anderson can get his shots inside and outside. He drives it well and can finish, which is a concern for WVU’s concerning problem with points in the paint, but he’s also shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range (39-for-96), 44.8 percent in Big 12 play and 55.3 percent in Big 12 road games.
And here’s where things get weird. TCU is better on the road than at home. I mean, much better. Their scoring average, their field-goal, 3-point and rebounding percentages and their defensive marks are much better away from home.
Unlikely, yes. Impossible. Impossible is nothing.
This blog? It’s not nothing. Let’s throw it in the post …