The state of West Virginia will be going crazy on Sunday with a Round of 32 matchup featuring Marshall and West Virginia. Located just a three-hOur drive from each other, the Thundering Herd will be looking for an upset against the bigger school. The Mountaineers opened as -12 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in San Diego.
It wasn’t a huge surprise that Marshall took down Wichita State, but it was a surprise nonetheless from a team that had six losses in Conference USA. The Herd can play, though, and that was seen early in the season when they almost stole a Game from Xavier. Unfortunately, they haven’t played anyone like West Virginia all season.
The Mountaineers are usually a team that runs away from smaller schools mainly because no one is used to playing a team as athletic and big that also plays full-cOurt press. Murray State found that out quickly on Friday and turned the ball over 16 times in the loss.
To pull the upset, Marshall has to take care of the ball and that’s possible. They don’t have terrible turnover numbers on the season, but still finished fifth in Conference play. The Herd will once again have to rely on outside shooting and hope they can get easy buckets at the hoop. That worked against Wichita State, but West Virginia will have Sagaba Konate waiting at the rim on every drive and he’s one of the best shot blockers in the country.
The other problem for the Herd is rebounding and that almost did them in against the Shockers as they gave up 16 offensive boards. In that same vein, the Mountaineers are one of the best at getting their own misses and do so on almost 37 percent of them. Marshall doesn’t have a great defense and giving up offensive boards could be problematic again.
The Herd did most of their damage off the dribble and that’ll be hard to replicate in this Game. Jon Elmore will likely be matched up against West Virginia senior Jevon Carter and the advantage has to go to the Mountaineer. Carter is considered one of the best defenders in the country and will more than likely be matched up with Elmore. Carter has already dealt with the likes of Trae Young and kept him in lock so Elmore would be nothing new. If Elmore can’t get his shots, others like CJ Burks and Jarrod West will have to step up.
Equally important is Marshall center Ajdin Penava, who will likely be defended by Konate. That’s the area Marshall could have an advantage because if Penava can take Konate away from the basket, that will leave open lanes for everyone else. Penava is a similar player to WVU’s Esa Ahmad in that he can shoot, but his length is also huge around the hoop.
The Herd beat a Wichita State team that struggled to play defense all season, but now get one that will pressure the entire Game. To have a chance, they can’t turn the ball over. If Carter can keep Elmore in check, there’s the possibility that this turns into a blowout. But if the others can hit shots and Penava stays out of foul trouble, Marshall will be in the running for another upset.
Our Pick – Marshall +12.5