Chris Paul is right now competing for the NBA championship with the Phoenix Suns — but in 2005, he and his Wake Forest Demon Deacons met a formidable wall of Old Gold and Blue in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
The result has forever replayed in the memories of WVU fans across the Mountain State and the country, but this weekend, they will have the chance to relive that classic when Gold and Blue Nation replays the triumph on Nexstar stations across the state.
John Beilein’s Mountaineers had a roller-coaster regular season. After 10 straight wins to start the season, WVU went on to drop eight of their next 10 games — a painful stretch to start Big East play, with a loss to rival Marshall squeezed in between. Come February, though, WVU got itself together and won six of its next eight, earning an 8-seed in the Big East Tournament.
West Virginia caught fire at Madison Square Garden. After coasting by Providence in the first round, it took down No. 7 Boston College (the top seed) in the quarterfinals and survived Villanova to earn a ticket to the Big East Tournament Finals.
WVU ended up falling to Syracuse in the finals, 68-59, but one thing became clear — WVU was in that season to compete. Two Mountaineers — guard Mike Gansey and forward Kevin Pittsnogle — earned spots on the All-Tournament team, while the team as a whole burst its bubble and became a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
WVU pulled a No. 7 seed in the West Region, which came with a trip to Cleveland for the first and second rounds, and a date with the 10-seed Creighton Bluejays. The Mountaineers and the Bluejays battled until the final seconds, leaning on Tyrone Sally for some heroics to send WVU to the second round.
The Mountaineers were then tasked with Wake Forest — the 2-seed in the region, and a team which many pundits considered the “fifth No. 1 seed.” The Demon Deacons sure were star-studded — led by two All-ACC second team selections in Justin Gray and Eric Williams and the future NBA All-Star Paul, Wake Forest went 27-6 and lost just three games in conference play to finish second in the conference.
The two teams faced each other on March 19, 2005 at Cleveland’s Henry J. Goodman Arena — putting on a show for the ages and forever earning a spot in West Virginia men’s basketball history.
Don’t miss the replay of the March Madness classic — here is when the game will be shown across the state:
- WTRF – My Ohio Valley (Wheeling) — Saturday, July 10 at 1 p.m. ET
- WVNS (Beckley) — Saturday, July 10 at 1:30 p.m. ET
- WOWK (Charleston) — Sunday, July 11 at 11:30 a.m. ET
- WBOY-NBC (Clarksburg) — Sunday, July 11 at 8 p.m. ET