13-seeded Marshall wasn’t expected to come out on top of its 1st Round NCAA Tournament matchup with 4-seeded Wichita State.
But this is March, where upsets become the norm.
On the other hand, this is March, where an upset win often means a team such as the Thundering Herd will be tasked with matching up with yet another more highly-ranked foe just days later. After securing a thrilling 81-75 win over Wichita State on Friday afternoon, Marshall will spend its Sunday evening aiming to replicate that success against a 5-seeded West Virginia squad that was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally this season.
Can the Thundering Herd make magic happen once more and become a cinderella of the Big Dance and advance to the Sweet 16?
Bleacher Report’s David Gardner and Kerry Miller expect that to become the case, as the two picked Marshall to upset the Mountaineers on Sunday night.
“Inconsistent perimeter defense isn’t the team’s downfall. After holding Wichita State to an 8-of-29 mark from downtown, Marshall stayed undefeated when surrendering 80 points or fewer,” the Bleacher Report staff wrote. “However, opponents shot 38-plus percent in seven of the Herd’s 10 losses.”
“On the offensive end, one of Elmore or Burks (or both!) must have an excellent day from the field,” the staff added. “Those two, along with Ajdin Penava, all average 15-plus points this season. Elmore scored 27 points to lead Marshall past Wichita State.”
This in-state rivalry will almost surely be decided by the winner of a strength-versus-strnegth matchup. On one end, you have an elite Mountaineers defense dubbed as Press Virginia; one led by back-to-back Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Carter. On the other hand, you have a red-hot Marshall squad that’s enjoyed six wins in seven tries behind Jon Elmore’s lights out offense, as the junior guard is averaging 26 points per game throughout that stretch.
If Carter can lead the way in limiting Elmore from exploding offensively, as he did against Wichita State, West Virginia’s odds of avoiding a Round of 32 upset go up significantly. If not, and its Elmore that leads the way for an offensive onslaught, especially from deep, Marshall will own some considerable bragging rights by late Sunday night.
West Virginia and Marshall will square off at 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS.
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