MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia is ten games into its 2022-23 campaign. The Mountaineers enter their week of final exams off an 81-70 win over UAB on Saturday. Bob Huggins’ group has won eight of its first ten contests by an average of 15.2 points and has been well-tested with multiple games against power conference opponents.
Despite the strong start, West Virginia still finds itself outside of the AP Top 25.
While traditional polling methods don’t have the Mountaineers among the nation’s best teams, analytical methods show that West Virginia is playing as well as anyone thus far.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI)
West Virginia checks in at No. 17 in this metric. That puts the Mountaineers above AP Top 25 teams such as (12) Duke, (17) Mississippi State, (18) Auburn, and (20) Maryland.
Ranked 17th in BPI, West Virginia is fourth in the Big 12 in the metric. All ten teams in the conference rank inside the top 50 in BPI, making the Big 12 the only conference in the country that can make that claim.
KenPom Ranking and Adjusted Offense/Defense metrics
The latest Pomery rankings aren’t quite as bullish on Huggins’ crew, though they continue to show that West Virginia is playing at a high level. WVU ranks 23rd in the overall KenPom rankings. Once again, that’s the fourth-best placement among Big 12 teams.
Diving a little deeper into the KenPom numbers reveals just how well West Virginia is playing.
According to the popular basketball analytics website, WVU ranks 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 31st in adjusted defensive efficiency. Eight of the 22 teams ranked above the Mountaineers in the overall KenPom rankings aren’t seen as one of the 35 best clubs in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Sticking with the efficiency rankings, exactly half of the teams slotted above West Virginia in the overall KenPom rankings are higher rated in both offensive and defensive efficiency by the site. However, that also means that exactly half of those teams do not, with the most glaring examples being Mississippi State’s offensive efficiency and Ohio State’s defensive efficiency being rated well below the Mountaineers’.
Strength of Schedule (SOS) & Strength of Record (SOR)
As stated previously, West Virginia has been well-tested thus far.
According to ESPN calculations, WVU has the 39th strength of schedule in the country. For comparison, that is three times as tough of a schedule as UCLA’s (8-2), and a schedule four times tougher than Houston’s (9-1). Both of those teams are well inside the AP Top 25, with the Cougars ranking fifth in the nation.
Overall, six teams ranked above West Virginia in ESPN BPI have a tougher strength of schedule, while six other teams have a strength of schedule ranked 100 or worse.
In terms of strength of record, the Mountaineers check in at 21st in the country. That puts West Virginia’s SOR near the middle of teams rated above them in BPI. For reference, AP No. 13 Kentucky (7-2) has a strength of record that ranks 51st in the country.
KenPom uses a different method to calculate strength of schedule, though the trends remain the same.
Of the 22 teams ranked above West Virginia in the overall KenPom ranking, just five have a better strength of schedule than the Mountaineers. The website has WVU’s SOS as the 62nd best in the country. For comparison, Big 12 foe Texas (7-1) is 307th, and undefeated Mississippi State is 326th.
NCAA NET Rankings
West Virginia enters this week at No. 8 in the country in the latest NCAA NET rankings. The Mountaineers checked in at No. 11 in the initial NET rankings on Dec. 5.
WVU is the second-highest-rated Big 12 team in the NET and the highest-rated two-loss team in the ranking.