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Daily Word: West Virginia headed for a letdown?

Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.

1. West Virginia is coming off a week in which it faced the nation's top two teams. Are the Mountaineers headed for a letdown against Texas?

Andy Katz: I don't see a letdown out of this West Virginia team. Bob Huggins has his culture alive and well with the Mountaineers. Will they win? Not sure. But this squad gives a full effort. The Mountaineers have been all in.

John Gasaway: Texas is just 1-2 in Morgantown since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, so winning will be no small feat for Shaka Smart's team. Since Cameron Ridley was sidelined with a foot injury, the Longhorn offense has been average overall (notwithstanding a high-scoring win over Iowa State). Facing an excellent West Virginia D that may commit (ahem) an occasional foul, the Horns will have a really tough time creating any kind of letdown for Huggins' group.

C.L. Brown: There's always a chance of a letdown considering the hype surrounding the Kansas and Oklahoma games. However, Huggins has instilled a toughness in this team. I don't think it matters who the opponent is, the Mountaineers will come ready to play.

2. Michigan State has Denzel Valentine back, but it has lost two in a row. How can the Spartans recapture the pre-Valentine injury magic that propelled them to No. 1?

Katz: Michigan State isn't healthy. Not having Lourawls Nairn Jr. is yet another stumbling block. This is a huge week for the Spartans with Nebraska and Maryland at home. Late January to March is Izzo time. There's no reason to panic.

Gasaway: Well, Step 1 is to stop playing games against Iowa. Step 2 would be to either foul less or force more turnovers. MSU's field goal defense has been outstanding, but Izzo's getting very little benefit from it because his guys are committing a high number of fouls while recording (virtually) no takeaways. The resulting turnover margin -- the largest posted by any team Big Ten play -- is hurting the Spartans.

Brown: It's just a matter of time. Just because Valentine was healthy enough to to rejoin the lineup doesn't mean the Spartans would automatically have the same rhythm and continuity they had before his injury. They will get it back, as Izzo teams tend to do, but it might not be in time for their Saturday showdown with Maryland.

3. What happened to Vanderbilt? Things haven't gone according to plan for a team that started the season with SEC title hopes.

Katz: Injuries, defense and a promise that the Commodores would have the best offense in the country haven't materialized. Not having a sensational start probably rocked this crew a bit. The Commodores could turn things around quickly this week with games at Tennessee and at Kentucky. Sweep this road trip and the perception would change dramatically. There is still time, but opportunities can't be missed.

Gasaway: For a team that's shooting 43 percent on its 3s in conference play, Vanderbilt has a surprisingly unproductive offense. Too many turnovers is the main issue, though Kevin Stallings' apparent (and sudden) decision to wave the white flag on the offensive glass may be hurting the Commodores' offense as much as it's helping their transition D.

Brown: Frankly I don't think the Commodores' best players have done a great job living up to those expectations. Luke Kornet's injury certainly didn't help, given that he's essentially a defensive captain on the floor. Center Damian Jones hasn't been the consistent rebounding presence that he could and should be. Guard Wade Baldwin IV is still committing too many turnovers.