Marshall (11-21) vs. Old Dominion (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 12, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: MU 8-8, ODU 10-6. Away Record: MU 2-12, ODU 5-8. Neutral Record: MU 1-1, ODU 0-2. Conference Record: MU 4-12, ODU 9-7. Series Record: Old Dominion leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will try to keep their season alive another day as they take on the sixth-seeded Old Dominion Monarchs in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament at the Don Haskins Center.
The winner of this game will advance to play No. 3 Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
The No. 14 Thundering Herd overcame a poor offensive performance on Tuesday to edge Florida Atlantic, 63-59, in the opening round. The win snapped Marshall's two-game losing streak in the postseason and marked the third time in the last four C-USA Tournaments that it won its first round game. Although the Herd won only two of their final 11 games of the regular season, none of the setbacks during that stretch came by a double-digit margin. In large part due to the mid-season departure of senior forward Elijah Pittman (21.4 ppg,) Marshall cooled off from its 82 ppg average during non-conference play to post only 64.3 ppg versus league foes.
The Monarchs are one of the most improved teams in the nation as they finished the 2012-13 season, their last as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, with a 5-25 overall ledger. ODU won two of its last three games to triple its win total from last year. The team made strides behind the strength of stifling defense, as its opponents converted only 41.7 percent from the field for a mere 64.7 ppg. The Monarchs rank second to last in the C- USA in scoring offense (63.6 ppg) in part because of their conference worst 60.5 percent clip at the free-throw line.
Both of these schools struggled away from home in 2013-14. Marshall's win over FAU in the opening round improved it to 3-13 outside of the Cam Henderson Center and the Monarchs are 5-8 in true road tests and 0-2 at neutral sites. ODU held off the Herd for a 70-63 win when Marshall visited Norfolk on Feb. 27.
Marshall was limited to 38.1 percent efficiency from the field, including a 5- of-20 clip from beyond the arc by the Owls on Tuesday. The Herd made up for their lack of accuracy from the floor by forcing FAU into 15 turnovers and grabbing 14 offensive boards. Sophomore guard Chris Thomas led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, while All-C-USA third team selection Kareem Canty added 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting from the floor. Rookie forward Ryan Taylor, who joined Canty on the All-C-USA Freshmen Team, pulled down nine rebounds and netted eight points on 4-of-17 efficiency from the field. Canty's multiple accolades this season were well deserved as he paced the Herd with 16.4 ppg and ranks third in the league with 5.7 apg. Taylor has been steady en route to averages of 13.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg, while Thomas has chimed in with 12.7 ppg.
Sophomore guard Aaron Bacote is a key player for the Monarchs this season with 16.4 ppg and 3.0 apg, while juniors Dimitri Batten (10.8 ppg) and Richard Ross (9.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg) also have valuable roles. In the first meeting with Marshall this season, Bacote made good on 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc and converted 7-of-10 shots at the charity stripe for a team-high 22 points and Ross posted 19 points, nine boards and three blocks. ODU has alternated wins and losses over its final nine regular season games, but lost four of its last five away games.
Marshall managed to win four games in four days to earn a spot in the 2012 C- USA Tournament Championship. The Herd have underachieved since their improbable run, while ODU was one of the biggest surprises in the league this season. The Monarchs' lack of experience may hurt them though, as they will have their hands full with Marshall, which is more talented than its record indicates.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 67, Old Dominion 65
03/12 10:37:31 ET