It’s not often that you can pick up an opponent the quality of Gonzaga in mere minutes, but that’s exactly what West Virginia and head coach Bob Huggins was able to do.
The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs were set to square off against Tennessee in the Jimmy V Classic inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, before thing were derailed.
The Volunteers had to pull out of the event due to concerns over COVID-19 and Huggins just so happened to see that news roll across the ticker on his television screen while relaxing and readying for the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic three-game tournament.
So the idea hit the veteran head coach.
“I thought what the heck, let’s call ESPN,” he said. “So I called some guys that I’ve known for a long, long time and said ‘can you work this out and get us in the Jimmy V to play Gonzaga’.”
That longtime acquaintance said he would get back to Huggins in short order and low and behold, 15-minutes later the head coach’s phone was ringing.
“He called me back and said we got it done. You’re in,” Huggins said.
The whole thing unfolded in only minutes, but the matchup now becomes the marquee out of conference game on the schedule for the Mountaineers.
It will be the fourth time that West Virginia has competed in the Jimmy V Classic and the first time that the Mountaineers will square off against Gonzaga since a 61-58 loss in the 2017 Sweet 16. This year’s edition of the Bulldogs are considered the pre-season favorite in college hoops and will provide a stiff challenge for Huggins’ club before a loaded Big 12 Conference slate.
And in an age where schedules are often done well in advance, it was some old-fashioned connections that got this game set in stone. And rather quickly at that.
“It happened pretty quick,” Huggins said.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday and will be followed by Baylor against Illinois.
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