Marshall basketball set to battle for #1 spot
The stage is set for what will arguably be one of the biggest weekends in Marshall basketball history. Middle Tennessee (14-5, 6-1) and UAB (17-3, 7-0) will travel to the Cam Henderson Center to face the Herd in a battle for Conference USA’s top spot. “Happy for @HerdMBB on their success,” Herd football coach Doc Holliday tweeted following the win against Old Dominion. “Really playing some good basketball. Make sure you guys get out and support these guys.” Coming from a guy who turned around the Marshall football program and knows a little something about winning, that’s saying a lot.
Marshall will host the Blue Raiders at 7 p.m. on Thursday, followed by the Blazers Saturday at noon.
What’s at stake for the Herd
- The #1 spot in Conference USA: Marshall is 10-10 this season and 6-1 in conference play. The Herd is 10-4 after starting off their 2015-2016 campaign 0-6. Middle Tennessee comes into the match-up 6-1 in conference play as well. The winner of Thursday’s game will take over the #2 spot in C-USA. The top spot currently belongs to UAB, who sits at alone at 7-0. A win against both would give Marshall the sole lead going down the final stretch of the season.
- Momentum: We’re getting to that point in the basketball season where everyone starts looking towards March Madness. (If I had a dollar for every time I heard a sports commentator use the words “momentum” and “going into the tournament” together, I would have been rich by the age of 5. Beating the top teams in the conference would provide a huge spark for a Marshall basketball team that didn’t start out so hot. Not only that, but two wins this weekend would be a big advantage for the Herd, who has yet to travel to UAB and Middle Tennessee this season.
What each team has to offer
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders are riding a six-game win streak as they come to face the Herd. Sophomore guard Giddy Potts has the hot hand for MTSU. He’s coming off a 27 point performance against Rice in which he hit six 3-pointers. Potts is 51% from behind the line this season. Junior Forward Reggie Upshaw is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds. It will be interesting to see how the Herd handles Upshaw, as they have struggled with opposing big men in the past few outings. If you’re looking for some impressive wins on the Blue Raiders schedule, you don’t have to look far. Their 7 point victory against Auburn and their win on the road at ODU speaks for itself.
UAB: The Blazers are currently on a 14-game win streak, with a game against Western Kentucky before they visit the Herd. It’s probably safe to assume that they’ll be riding a 15-game win streak into Huntington. The hot hand for UAB belongs to Senior guard Robert Brown, who is averaging 13 points, two rebounds and three assists on the year. His past three outputs have carried the Blazers to victory, although he has had a lot of help from people like Chris Cokley and William Lee. Cokley is averaging 14 points and six rebounds, while Lee is just under 10 points per game. The Blazers have generated some impressive victories themselves. They have wins against Stephen F. Austin, Georgia State and yes, Middle Tennessee.
The Herd is hot, winning 10 of their last 14. If you really want to get specific, they’ve won six of their last seven. Either way you see it, my advice will be the same. If you are anywhere near Marshall University this weekend, I highly suggest jamming the Cam for some top-notch basketball.
Casey covers Marshall Basketball for MFST. You can follow him on twitter @wxmozz