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Throughout his career, Bob Huggins' unique personality has overshadowed the consistent coaching record he's compiled since the mid-1980s.
However, when all is said and done, his track record in the NCAA tournament will be more important than his trademark track jacket donned on game days.
After making the jump to division one coaching, Huggins wasted no time reaching the Final Four in just his third season with the Cincinnati Bearcats in 1992.
He managed to reach 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments to follow; however, Cincinnati was interested in banners and a positive reputation more so than morale victories.
His strained relationship with UC president Nancy Zimmer when it came to academic standards and some off the court personal decisions forced him out of the Bearcat locker room.
For the last 18 seasons, Huggins has been without a trip to the final weekend of the college basketball season, until now.
All the West Virginia boy had to do was return home.
"I can remember sitting on my grandfather's lap listening to West Virginia football and basketball games," Huggins said. "I think a large part, if not all the state of West Virginia, grew up like that."
It was about 112 miles west of the site of this year's Final Four, in Cincinnati, where coach Huggins' reputation rose to, at times, untouchable levels. He looks back at those times with great pride.
"Cincinnati is a great town," Huggins said. "It's a great sports town. Hopefully over the years we gave them a lot of things to be proud of. They were great to me."
Whatifsports.com wanted to know which of coach Huggins' Final Four teams would win in a head-to-head match-up.
We fed our college basketball simulaton engine the 1992 Bearcat roster, led by Nick Van Exel, and the statistical make-up of that team versus the quiet assassins of West Virginia 2010.
We simulated the game 1001 times. The college basketball simulation engine provided us with an average winning percentage for both teams as well as an average score of the 1001 games.
1992 Cincinnati vs 2010 West Virginia
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score|| |
|West Virginia Mountaineers||66.6||76||Box Score|
|@ Cincinnati Bearcats||33.4||72|
|Cincinnati 1992 Stats|
|Points Per Game||Opp. Points Per Game|
Two out of three is not too shabby West Virginia. Coach Huggins has made quick work in pushing the Mountaineers to the pinnacle of not only the Big East, but NCAA basketball. In only three years, he's turned around a program that was on the verge of falling behind the football team in popularity and dealt with the pressure of taking over for a reputable coach in his own right, coach John Beilein.
Just like he did with Bearcat fans around the Cincinnati area and the country, coach Huggins is building a relationship with the Mountaineer fan base. And in a state that has no professional sports franchises to root for, West Virginia continues to bleed yellow and blue.
"We came back from the Big East tournament," Huggins said. "We got back at 2:45 in the morning and there were a couple thousand people at the airport when we landed. It was cold out and they had been standing there for a long time waiting for our guys to come back."
As for the '92 Bearcats, their scoring production of nearly 79 points per game that season dipped dramatically under the pressure defense of West Virginia. Cincinnati's average points per game fell to 72 points per game in the 1001 simulations. Their defense allowed 13 more points per game than they did on average in 1992 (63.1).
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to shoot him an email with any questions or comments regarding Whatifsports.com's NCAA Tournament Preview.
Whatifsports.com is proud to say it accurately predicted the 2009 Super Bowl, 2009 BCS National Championship, 2009 World Series, 2009 NBA Finals and 2009 NCAA basketball championship. Our hope is to add the 2010 national basketball championship to that running list of Whatifsports.com's simulation success.
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