Marshall (10-21) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 11, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: C-USA Digital Network. Home Record: Marshall 8-8, FAU 7-8. Away Record: Marshall 2-12, FAU 3-11. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-1, FAU 0-2. Conference Record: Marshall 4-12, FAU 5-11. Series Record: Florida Atlantic leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams with identical records will collide in the Conference USA Tournament, as the Marshall Thundering Herd contend with the Florida Atlantic Owls at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
Marshall enters this event as the 14th-seed, having gone 10-21 overall and 4-12 in league play. The Thundering Herd lost four of their final four games of the regular season, including a 74-70 setback in the finale against Charlotte. They have never won this tourney in eight previous seasons in the conference.
FAU is in its first season as a member of C-USA, having spent the previous seven years in the Sun Belt. The Owls are the No. 11 seed for their first run in their new league's tournament, having gone 5-11 against the rest of the conference and 10-21 overall. They have won just one conference tournament title as a Division I program, claiming the Atlantic Sun crown in 2002.
The Owls pulled out a road victory at Marshall in a 65-57 final on Feb. 1 in the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
Kareem Canty scored 22 points and handed out seven assists, but he only connected on 8-of-21 shots from the field and the rest of the Thunder Herd also struggled in their loss to Charlotte to end the campaign. Marshall only connected on 38.6 percent from the floor in the losing effort.
Canty (16.4 ppg, 5.7 apg) leads three double-digit scorers for the Herd, topping the team in both points scored and assists this season. However, he is only connecting on 37.7 percent of his field goal attempts. Ryan Taylor (13.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Chris Thomas (12.7 ppg) are also scoring in double figures, and doing so at a better rate, each shooting better than 45 percent from the field. All told, Marshall is averaging a respectable 73 ppg, but it ranks in the bottom half of the conference in both field goal percentage (.434) and assists (12.5 apg).
Marquan Botley may have scored a game-high 27 points, but FAU fell short on its home floor to FIU in the regular-season finale 74-70, marking its sixth straight loss to end the regular season. The Owls turned the ball over 20 times in the loss, and were outscored 20-12 at the free-throw line.
Any chance the Owls have in this tournament took a real hit earlier in the month, when leading scorer Pablo Bertone (18.9 ppg) went down with a strained quadriceps. The Owls' point guard earned all-league honors, but is still listed as questionable for this matchup and the rest of the event. Botley (10.8 ppg) is just a 37.1 percent shooter and had netted just 23 points combined during the three games prior to the season finale. Justin Raffington (10.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is more important for his efforts on the glass and is a somewhat reliable scorer for a team that is only netting 66.5 ppg.
If Bertone is unable to go, the Owls will need Botley and Raffington to really step up, or they are likely headed for an early exit.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marshall 72, Florida Atlantic 66
03/11 10:32:10 ET