By Sean Greene 12:01am, March 20, 2013
VIDEO: Blue Hens on West Virginia (PICTURE: Coaches looking at WVU Stats during Selection Monday)The last time Delaware stepped on the court with a Big XII Conference opponent, they walked off disappointed as their 2012 NCAA Tournament run ended in the 2nd round.
Delaware was 31-1 going into the battle with No. 11 seed Kansas in the game in Little Rock, Arkansas. The No. 3 seeds were ranked 7th in the country, and went into the break ahead 37-13. The game changed in the opening minutes of the second half, as the major-conference tested Jayhawks started the half on a 20-6 run before holding on for the 70-64 upset.
Images of guard Angel Goodrich, one of the best players in the country, going for an opponent-season-high 27 points against a usually stern Delaware defense were common.
West Virginia appears to have similar puzzle pieces to the Jayhawks, including junior guard Christal
Caldwell, the 2009 North Carolina Ms. Basketball. She transferred to Morgantown after starting her career at Florida, a similar path that Trumae Lucas took in coming to Delaware from the Gators.
Caldwell does a little bit of everything. She leads the Mountaineers at 13.6 points per game, while also adding over 4 rebounds and a steal and a half per contest. She's one of four WVU players who grab over 2 offensive rebounds a game, a stat that could be concerning for a Delaware team that in the home game against James Madison this season gave up 9 straight offensive rebounds in one possession.
Five different Mountaineers average over 4 rebounds a game, paced by Ayana Dunning's 6.1 average. Dunning, a 6'3" senior from Columbus, Ohio, has run into foul trouble, fouling out of 7 of her team's 30 games this season.
6'0" sophomore forward Averee Fields also is a dual threat with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal per game.
West Virginia shouldn't be intimidated by 5,000 Blue Hen fans at the sold-out Bob Carpenter Center after a challenging schedule that took them to national powers Kansas, Oklahoma, and No. 1 Baylor. WVU averaged 4,982 fans in their 11 road games, including playing in front of over 10,000 fans at Baylor and Iowa State.
Delaware coach Tina Martin and her team have already said they need to stop the slashing guards and do a nice job on the glass, two things they didn't do against Kansas. Whether they can do that Sunday at 12:15 in Newark will determine whether they will "Survive and Advance" at the Bob.
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