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Tip-Off: Approximately 9:40 PM Est
Location: San Diego, California. Viejas Arena
The 5th seed West Virginia Mountaineers (25-10) meet the 13th seed Marshall Thundering Herd (25-10) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the 45th meeting between the two programs and West Virginia leads the series 33-11. The Mountaineers have won nine out of the last ten games.
West Virginia advanced into the second round of the tournament with the win over the Ohio Valley Conference Champion Murray State Racers 85-68.
Four Mountaineers scored in double figures, forwards Esa Ahmad (12), Sagaba Konate (14), Teddy Allen (16) and guard Jevon Carter (21). West Virginia is 19-2 on the year when four or more players score in double figures.
Marshall earned their trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Conference USA Tournament and made their way to the Mountaineers by upsetting the 4th seed Wichita State Shockers.
Most of the minutes for the Herd come from their starters:
Junior guard Jon Elmore (6’3” 184-lbs) has averaged 26.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds the last three games. He is shooting 35.7% from behind the arc on the year, but in his last three outings, he has shot 51.6%.
Junior guard CJ Burks (6’3” 196-lbs) averaged 20.3 on the season but has struggled in the last two games, going 8-33 (24.2%) from the field and 1-8 (12.5%) from three-point range.
Junior forward Ajdni Penava (6’9” 214-lbs) is averaging 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the post-season (four games).
Freshman guard Jarrod West (5’11” 179-lbs) had nine points and four steals in the win over the Shockers. He is averaging eight points in the last four games. West has scored 20 or more points three times in his first collegiate season, but the Herd lost all three games.
Freshman forward Jannson Williams (6’9” 217-lbs) is averaging 12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds during tournament play. He has been strong late in the season, getting four of his six double figured scoring performances in the month of March.
Coming off the bench:
Junior guard Rondale Watson (6’4” 185-lbs) is averaging 8.0 points on the season but only has eight points in the last four games and is averaging 17 minutes
Freshman forward Darius George (6’7” 190-lbs) has averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in tournament play on an average of 13.5 minutes.
Forwards Dani Kolijanin (6’8” 205-lbs) and Milan Mijovic (6’9” 252-lbs) could see some minutes despite not seeing any tournament action to add a little more depth and size to the frontline.
The Mountaineers have been playing well lately and Jevon Carter has led the way doing everything he can to keep his season alive, averaging 18.3 points, 8.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. He had 21 points against Murray State.
Teddy Allen had 16 points in the first round and it was his first time in double figures since February 12th against TCU. The Mountaineers are 10-0 when Teddy scores 10 or more points.
Sagaba Konate is averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the last three games.
Esa Ahmad went for 12 points after scoring five points in the previous two games combined.
After averaging 22 points in the previous three games, Daxter Miles Jr scored a quiet nine points versus the Racers.
Logan Routt came off the bench and played the best 16 minutes of his career, going 3-3 from the field and 1-1 from the charity stripe for 7 points and grabbed four rebounds. He played big on the inside clearing out the paint and denying on the defensive end.
Jon Elmore has played well all season long and has caught fire in the last few games, but he hasn’t quite seen a defense that he is going to face against the Mountaineers. Guards Miles and Carter have been containing some of the best guards in the country all season long.
Marshall is undersized and will have to rely on some good outside shooting to compete with West Virginia. The Mountaineers will have to play disciplined and keep the ball in front of them because the Herd is good at finding the open shooter in transition.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Marshall came out fast and hot to start the game, but the Mountaineers tend to wear teams down throughout the game and I expect it to continue versus a thin Herd team.
The Mountaineers need to continue to play like they have been and they will advance to their third Sweet 16 in four years.
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