Syracuse vs. West Virginia: Know Your 'Neers

It's almost go-time for the Syracuse Orange and the West Virginia Mountaineers, but what do we really know about Huggins' hosses? We need an expert to tell us what to think and why we should be afraid.

That's why The Smoking Musket is here. SB Nation's West Virginia blog (Insert Requisite Internet Access in West Virginia Joke Here) answers my questions and helps up prepare for Saturday's showdown.

Read along as you remember where the Schwartzwalder Trophy sits right now...

The Mountaineers seem to be a different team every time I turn around. Which one is stepping into the Dome Saturday?

If I could predict that, I'd be a rich man by now. Playing so many young guys combined with inconsistent veterans like Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli will do that to you, though. I honestly wasn't all that shocked by the poor game against St. John's because I knew we were due for one. Now that we got it out of our system, I could see us coming to Syracuse with some of our hunger back. But even at that point, I don't like the way we match up. Some folks at ESPN.com picked us to upset the Orange if Kevin Jones can get hot from the baseline and the elbow. I'm not so sure that will happen, though. But if you pressed me, I think we give a spirited effort and at least play hard.

At the end of the day, if you can hit threes, you're going to give SU a tough time. Can Truck Bryant get it together enough to be that rainmaker?

He's certainly capable of getting hot enough to be that guy for WVU. And I thought at the end of the St. John's game he showed signs of emerging from his shooting funk. But at the same time, he could go 0-9 with 6 turnovers and WVU could lose by 40. The Mountaineers are crossing their collective fingers that Good Truck shows up.

Kevin Jones, where does he rank on the all-time West Virginia player list right now?

Oh man, great question. He's obviously not at the Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley level (I doubt anyone ever will be). But I think he's a better player than anyone we had during the John Beilein era. I actually did a post a couple weeks ago comparing KJ to Da'Sean Butler and most people agreed that Butler was the better player. I'd say if you made an all-time WVU team, KJ would be second or third off the bench. But definitely in the rotation, playing major minutes.

What's the hope and goal for West Virginia basketball this season? What NCAA seed would you be happy with?

At the beginning of the year, I think most Mountaineer fans would have been happy to make the tournament even as a 7-10 seed. With some very good wins over Kansas State and Georgetown, and some inspired play against Baylor, the expectations are rising. I'd say at this point, most fans would be happy with a 5 or 6 seed, and I'm not sure a 4 is entirely out of the question as long as the team keeps improving. The change in expectations is a huge tribute to Huggins' ability to develop players quickly and to what Kevin Jones has been able to bring to the table this year in terms of consistency, versatility and leadership.

How are fans coping with the Big East litigation and impending Big 12 move? Is there a sense that you'll definitely be going? How disappointed will you be if you're still in the Big East in 2013?

The rumors have been swirling lately that the parties have reached an agreement and are ironing out the details. Last I heard (and obviously, nothing is concrete at this point), the Big 12 will release its football schedule on February 1, and that schedule will include WVU. Given all that, and for the simple fact that I don't see a court enforcing any type of injunction against WVU, fans would be borderline lynch mob if we had to endure another season in the Big East. The only benefit at this point would be a chance to get the Schwartzwalder trophy back. And really, outside of WVU and Syracuse fans, does anyone else even know that thing exists?

(Editor's Note: Ben Schwartzwalder's widow knows...and she's fine with where it is.)

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