PITTSBURGH - For anyone who has been watching for its 74-year history, the NCAA Tournament has been mostly about who finishes best.
I'm not just talking about the right end, single line of the bracket, the national champion. I'm talking the First Four - see Tuesday's opening Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State and BYU-Iona games - through the Final Four.
Finishing is the issue for 10th-seeded West Virginia tonight at the Consol Energy Center as the Mountaineers open their 25th NCAA Tournament bid since 1955 with an East Region second-round game against Gonzaga (25-6).
It's Big East versus West Coast conference-wise, and the seventh-seeded Zags, in their 14th straight March Madness appearance, proved long ago they are anything but a mid-major.
West Virginia (19-13) will have its hands full with little and big. Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos is the best freshman in the game, although WVU is known for its rookies. Bulldogs 7-foot, 260-pound veteran Canadian center Robert Sacre will be a tattooed, tall and tough order at both ends of the floor.
However, the Mountaineers' biggest test might come when they look in the mirror. If they want to advance to a Saturday game here - likely against second-seeded and No. 7 Ohio State - Gonzaga is not the only foe.
The Mountaineers have to close the deal.
It's been an elusive task all season.
WVU has lost five games it once led by 10 or more points. Six defeats have come in games in which the Mountaineers had a lead with 5 minutes remaining. They've lost eight games by seven or fewer points.
"We're averaging a good bit more (scoring) than what we did a year ago," said WVU Coach Bob Huggins, who has his program in a fifth straight NCAA - one shy of the WVU record NCAA appearance coaching streak set by the late Fred Schaus from 1955-60. "I think we're just not scoring at opportune times.
"Obviously, we'd like to score a little bit more. We've been in games, but primarily because of our youth we haven't finished games. And we've played a great schedule. We've played some good people."