Inside Marshall Sports

Strangest Games series

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For fun, I have ranked the 12 strangest games I have seen in my 14 years on the Gazette/Gazette-Mail’s MU beat. Bear in mind this stretches back to 2002, so games such as the 1999 MAC title game and the 2001 GMAC Bowl aren’t ranked.

Here is what we’ve run so far:

Introduction column: The very few hints I will drop.

No. 2: Nov. 2, 2002: Akron 34, Marshall 20 (7 turnovers sink Herd in game much better known for Leftwich being carried downfield)
No. 3: Nov. 5, 2004: Akron 31, Marshall 28 (Unfathomable collapse; fumbled punt snap leads to game-winning field goal; program goes into tailspin)
No. 4: Sept. 24, 2005: Central Florida 23, Marshall 13 (Orlando bike cops fatally shoots UCF undercover officer; Herd “snaps” UCF’s 17-game losing streak; fans tear down goalpost)
No. 5: Dec. 18, 2002 — Marshall 38, Louisville 15 (via cellphones, Cardinals learn of coach’s contact with Michigan State, overshadowing good Herd performance)
No. 6: Sept. 20, 2002 — Marshall 26, Central Florida 21 (Unheard-of smack talk all summer, UCF students take bus to game, Leftwich overcomes great secondary)
No. 7: Nov. 28, 2014 — Western Kentucky 67, Marshall 66, 2 OT (Fight breaks out before kickoff; 91 points scored in first half)
No. 8: Nov. 17, 2011 — Marshall 23, Memphis 22 (Rakeem Cato, Herd overcome two “fumble-sixes,” saves season with late rally)
No. 9: Sept. 22, 2012 — Marshall 54, Rice 51 (2 OT) (Herd finally wins in Texas despite Rice QB gaining 467 total yards)
No. 10: Nov. 1, 2009 — Central Florida 21, Marshall 20 (May have been game that got Snyder fired, late Brian Anderson fumble, UCF wins with 23 seconds left)
No. 11: Oct. 29, 2005 — Marshall 27, Tulane 26 (Game moved to Mobile, Alabama, because of Hurricane Katrina)
No. 12: Nov. 10, 2007 — Marshall 26, East Carolina 7 (Most outmanned MU team of century dominates Pirates, knocks them out of division title)

Herd’s preseason awards, poll positions

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All-Conference USA (coaches)

OLs Michael Selby and Clint Van Horn, TE Ryan Yurachek, DE Gary  Thompson

Lindy’s

C-USA East: 1. Western Kentucky; 2. Middle Tennessee; 3. Marshall; 4. Fla. International; 5. Fla. Atlantic; 6. Old Dominion; 7. Charlotte
C-USA West: 1. Southern Mississippi; 2. Louisiana Tech; 3. Rice; 4. Texas-El Paso; 5. Texas-San Antonio; 6. North Texas.

National 1-128 rank: WKU 52, Southern Miss 60, MTSU 75, Marshall 90 (!), Louisiana Tech 94, FIU 98, FAU 100, Rice 102, UTEP 105, ODU 111, UTSA 121, Charlotte 122, North Texas 124. Other MU foes: Louisville 14, Pittsburgh 35, Akron 82. Other G-5: Houston 12, South Florida 38, Temple 49, Cincinnati 51, Navy 63, Memphis 85, Connecticut 88, Tulsa 89 … Western Michigan 48, Northern Illinois 50, Ohio, 69, Central Michigan 74, Toledo 83 … San Diego State 19, Boise State 29, San Jose State 73, Nevada 79, Air Force 80, Wyoming 84, Colorado State 87 … Arkansas State 66, Appalachian State 72, Georgia Southern 77.

Herd on first team All-C-USA: OL Michael Selby (as a center), DB Tiquan Lang.
Second team: TE Ryan Yurachek, OL Clint Van Horn, DL Gary Thompson.

Top 10 NFL talent: 8. Selby (again, as a center)

Honor roll: Best scrambler, Chase Litton; best pass rusher, Gary Thompson.

Athlon

First team All-C-USA: OL Clint Van Horn and Michael Selby, DE Gary Thompson, S Tiquan Lang

Second team: TE Ryan Yurachek, DE Ryan Bee

Third team: QB Chase Litton

Fourth team: WR Deon-Tay McManus, LB Shawn Petty, DB C.J. Reavis

Orlando Sentinel countdown

Southern Mississippi 55, Marshall 57, West Virginia 58, Middle Tennessee 63, Louisiana Tech 66, Florida Atlantic 87, Old Dominion 95, Texas-San Antonio 99, Akron 100, Texas-El Paso 105, Rice 108, Florida International 112, Charlotte 115, North Texas 127. Other G-5 schools: Georgia Southern 56, Bowling Green 53, Appalachian State 52, Cincinnati 51, Northern Illinois 50, San Diego State 49, Toledo 48, Central Michigan 47

Watch lists

Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Clint Van Horn
Lou Groza Award (kicker): Nick Smith
John Mackey Award (tight ends): Ryan Yurachek
Good Works Team: Yurachek
Wuerffel (community servant): Yurachek

 

 

Thanks to multiple realignments, I have stepped foot in 19 Conference USA stadiums and eight more in the Mid-American Conference in this job. I’ll toss in four Southern Conference sites I have visited on recreational journeys.
That many? Boy, that Marshall program gets around!
Of all these stadiums, Old Dominion’s Foreman Field and Florida International are easily two of the bottom five. I’ll add Akron’s now-deserted Rubber Bowl, Houston’s now-demolished Robertson Stadium and Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium before it was radically renovated in 2008 and renamed.
My favorite of those 31 stadiums, in no order: East Carolina’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Tulsa’s Chapman Stadium post-renovation, El Paso’s Sun Bowl, Florida Atlantic’s place and, believe it or not, Charlotte’s 15,000-seater. Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards compares favorably.
Weirdest stadiums: Ohio’s Peden Stadium, Central Florida’s bouncy erector set that is Bright House Networks Stadium.
Worst neighborhood: Florida Citrus Bowl.
Most scenic: Sun Bowl, Appalachian State’s Kidd-Brewer Stadium.
Least scenic: Edwards Stadium, Memphis’ Liberty Bowl, Citrus Bowl, UCF’s BHNS.
Best game atmosphere: ECU, Marshall, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institiute. (Games at military schools are really cool.)
Best student section: UCF’s BHNS, 2007 visit. (12,000 is a large section.)
Best pressboxes: Superdome (NFL site), Southern Mississippi (best sight lines), Edwards Stadium (good small-detail features few other places possess).
Worst pressbox: FIU, FIU and FIU.
Best media treatment: Marshall (I’d better make a nod to Jason Corriher), ECU, Southern Miss
Worst media treatment: Ohio

Marshall has made trips to 18 different nonconference or bowl stadiums from 2002 to the present, most larger and more historic.
Favorite stadiums: Louisville’s Papa John’s Stadium, Ohio Stadium, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium
Weirdest stadiums: Tropicana Field, Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium (since renovated), Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium
Worst neighborhood: Orange Bowl (way better than Citrus Bowl neighborhood, though)
Best traffic access: Akron’s InfoCision Stadium (few home fans are a help, for sure)
Worst traffic access: West Virginia, Ohio State on a Thursday night
Best game atmosphere: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech
Best student section: Kansas State, Wisconsin
Best pressboxes: Louisville, Louisville and Louisville
Worst pressbox: Texas Christian (stadium since redone)
Best media treatment: Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio State
Worst media treatment: Wisconsin, Detroit’s Ford Field

NFL Draft: Will any MU players be picked?

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The Herd has a five-year streak  of having a player drafted on the line. The two best prospects are RB Devon Johnson and safety D.J. Hunter. (Yes, he was an LB at Marshall.) Check my story tonight/Thursday morning to see their chances, as told by somebody else.

My standard warning: There are only so many picks (253 this year) and about 1,000 who fancy themselves draft-worthy. If you hear something from a player or an agent, please don’t take it to heart.

So … I ask you: What MU players will be picked, what round and by whom? You’ll have until Saturday, as they won’t go in the first 3 rounds.

A quick cheat sheet: Here is how NFLDraftscout.com (as published on CBSSports.com) ranks these guys at their position:

  • Hunter 12th as a free safety, 275th overall.
  • Johnson is 22nd among running backs, 277th overall.
  • Sebastian Johansson 23rd among guards
  • Corey Tindal 37th among CBs
  • Taj Letman 44th among strong safeties
  • Keith Baxter 58th among cornerbacks)
  • Evan McKelvey 67th, outside linebackers

For extra credit, tell us where the free agents sign.

Finally a history of Marshall picks, with round and overall selection:

2015 7 247 Darryl Roberts CB New England Patriots
2014 6 199 Garrett Scott T Seattle Seahawks
2013 2 59 Aaron Dobson WR New England Patriots
2012 2 59 Vinny Curry DE Philadelphia Eagles
2011 5 159 Lee Smith TE New England Patriots
2007 7 250 Ahmad Bradshaw RB New York Giants
2005 6 206 Johnathan Goddard LB Detroit Lions
2004 2 54 Darius Watts WR Denver Broncos
2003 1 7 Byron Leftwich QB Jacksonville Jaguars
2003 3 84 Chris Crocker DB Cleveland Browns
2003 4 122 Steve Sciullo G Indianapolis Colts
2002 7 243 Chris Massey LS St. Louis Rams
2001 2 51 Paul Toviessi DE Denver Broncos
2000 1 18 Chad Pennington QB New York Jets
2000 2 43 Rogers Beckett S San Diego Chargers
2000 3 88 Doug Chapman RB Minnesota Vikings
2000 6 175 James Williams WR Seattle Seahawks
1998 1 21 Randy Moss WR Minnesota Vikings
1998 5 148 John Wade C Jacksonville Jaguars
1993 8 198 Troy Brown WR New England Patriots
1989 4 112 Michael Barber WR San Francisco 49ers
1989 6 164 Sean Doctor TE Buffalo Bills
1983 7 186 Carl Lee DB Minnesota Vikings
1967 14 353 Andy Socha RB Washington Redskins
1965 16  211 Tom Good LB New York Giants
1964 18 251 Mike Hicks G Green Bay Packers
1962 17 234 Rucker Wickline C Detroit Lions
1959 29 338 Jim O’Connor C Chicago Cardinals
1958 15 70 Ray Dunlap B Chicago Cardinals
1958 24 288 Jim O’Connor T Cleveland Browns
1956 8 97 Len Hellyer B Cleveland Browns
1955 18 210 Albin Maier G Pittsburgh Steelers
1954 13 157 Jim Swierczek B/E Detroit Lions
1950 13  170 Norm Willey DE Philadelphia Eagles
1948 21 193 Charlie Snyder T Pittsburgh Steelers
1942 13  120 Jackie Hunt HB Chicago Bears
1940 14  126 Jack Morlock WB Detroit Lions
1939 18  162 Frank Huffman G Chicago Cardinals
1939 17 151 Everette “Boot” Elkins Back Chicago Cardinals

Spring observations, questions, 4/17

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After scrimmage No. 1, a few thoughts:

  • Is CB Chris Jackson that good? He doesn’t look like he’s 18, and he looks like he’s been doing this for a few years. He’s taller and longer than the typical Marshall cornerback. D coordinator Chuck Heater says Jackson needs to recover better when a receiver does get behind him, but he gives a good grade.
  • Can Davon Durant become a really, really bad dude? He’s got closing speed and is hitting as if he’s on a mission. If he keeps on, he starts and suddenly, coaches have some nice options in that unit.
  • Shawn Petty at SLB? It’s probably the best way to get him on the field at least part of the time — and not have to play nickel every down.
  • Is TE Emanuel Byrd the No. 2 option at slot receiver behind Josh Knight, or even a 1-B? Yes, the Herd is looking at him in the slot with Ryan Earachek attached … 2 detached TEs are not out of the question. Nick Mathews may not be ready for prime time this fall, but you can’t keep him off the field forever.
  • Michael Selby double shifted a lot this week, playing center on 2nd team. If Nate Devers pans out this fall at center, you can still expect Selby to be No. 2 man there, as well as the No. 1 guard.
  • Chase Litton is still your starting QB unless he literally throws it away, but missing high against the blitz is a recipe for disaster.
  • Keion Davis has a loooong way to go in regards to blocking pass rushers. That will keep him at No. 3 when Tony Pittman returns this fall.
  • Saturday’s scrimmage aside, the outside receivers continue to give encouraging performances. Justin Hunt had a very good week.
  • Doc Holliday says the picture at defensive tackle is brighter than it was last year, when Jarquez Samuel and Steve Dillon ruled the inside. I’ll meet him halfway, for now — youngsters Jason Smith, Nyquan Harris and Tomell One will take their lumps vs. Louisville and Pitt, but they’ll look nice by mid-October.
  • About Kaare Vedvik: Worry more about him at holder than at punter. Operation with new snapper Zach Wood hasn’t been perfect, as is needed.
  • There are 146 days until the Sept. 10 opener against Morgan State. Don’t think about the FG situation for all those days, or you’ll go insane.

Anything else you want to bounce off me in the last 2 weeks and beyond, reply here or tweet me @dougsmock.

Herd and C-USA tiebreakers

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After Thursday night’s shot to the gut, here are the standings from seeds 2-5:

La Tech 12-5
MTSU 12-5
Marshall 11-6
ODU 11-6

A Marshall win clinches 4th and a bye to the quarterfinals. In fact, I believe the only way the Herd drops to 5th is with an unexpected loss to Southern Miss and an ODU win at Rice.

The Herd can climb to 3rd in a few scenarios that involve multiple-team ties and involve ODU.

Here are the tiebreakers, as I understand the conference process (which has changed a little bit over the years):

Two ways
LT over MTSU
LT over Marshall
ODU over LT
MTSU over Marshall
MTSU over ODU
Marshall over ODU

Three ways
LT, MT, Marshall (2, 3, 4) (ODU alone at 5)
Marshall, LT, ODU (3, 4, 5) (MT would be alone at 2)
Marshall, MT, ODU (3, 4, 5) (LT wold be alone at 2)
LT, MT, ODU (2, 3, 4) (That involves MU dropping to 5)

Four ways
LT 2, Marshall 3, MT 4, ODU 5

Current standings:

1. UAB 15-2 (reg season champ). Left: at FAU
2. La Tech 12-5. Left: at WKU
3. MTSU 12-5. Left: at FIU
4. Marshall 11-6. Left: USM
5. ODU 11-6. Left: at Rice
6. Charlotte 9-8. Left: At North Texas
7. UTEP 9-8 Left: at UTSA
8. Rice 7-10. Left: ODU
9. Florida International 7-10. Left: UAB
10. W. Kentucky 7-10. Left: La Tech
11. North Texas 6-11. Left: Charl
12. Fla. Atlantic 5-12 (“clinched” 12th seed). Left: UAB
*****Southern Miss ineligible*****
13. UT-San Antonio 3-14 (“clinched 13th seed”). Left: UTEP

 

And finally, those weird projected standings I have been keeping that will not happen. Illogical hunches from before: FIU will take down MTSU, La Tech will get upset at WKU and ODU will get upset at North Texas. (Go ahead, parlay that at the sportsbook.)

For you humor, and nothing else:

1. UAB 16-2
2. La Tech 12-6
3. MTSU 12-6
4. Marshall 12-6
5. ODU 11-7
6. Charlotte 10-8
7. UTEP 10-8
8. FIU 8-10
9. W. Kentucky 8-10
10. Rice 7-11
11. North Texas 6-12
12. FAU 5-13
13. UTSA 3-15

Here are the more likely standings, if all favorites win Saturday:

1. UAB 16-2
2. La Tech 13-5
3. MTSU 13-5
4. Marshall 12-6
5. ODU 12-6
6. Charlotte 10-8
7. UTEP 10-8
8. Rice 7-11
9. FIU 7-11
10. W. Kentucky 7-11
11. North Texas 6-12
12. FAU 5-13
13. UTSA 3-15

Either way, I call it UTSA vs. FAU in the 12-vs.-13 game Tuesday with winner playing No. 5 ODU at 3:30 Eastern on Wednesday, with winner facing No. 4 Marshall at 3:30 Thursday. Brace for another 37 from Trey Freeman!

 

 

C-USA heading into final week

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Hello, Herd fans. After two tough losses, here’s the standings table:

1. UAB 14-2 (reg season champ). Left: at FIU, at FAU
2/3/4. Marshall 11-5. Left: La Tech, USM
2/3/4. La Tech 11-5. Left: at MU, at WKU
2/3/4. MTSU 11-5. Left at FAU, at FIU
5. ODU 10-6. Left: at NT, at Rice
6. UTEP 9-8 Left: at UTSA
7. Charlotte 8-8. Left: at Rice, at NT
8. Florida International 7-9. Left: MTSU, UAB
9. Rice 7-9. Left: Charl, ODU
10. W. Kentucky 6-10. Left: USM, La Tech
11. North Texas 6-10. Left: ODU, Charl
12. Fla. Atlantic 5-11 (“clinched” 12th seed). Left: MTSU, UAB
*****Southern Miss ineligible*****
13. UT-San Antonio 3-14 (“clinched 13th seed”). Left: UTEP

Very interesting that the Marshall-La Tech game is the only one matching 2 of the top 5 teams this week. If the Dunkin’ Dawgs win, they’re supreme in all possible tiebreakers. Ditto for Marshall, who has the advantage of playing a Southern Miss team that is out of the postseason and might check out early.

Results for tiebreaker use:

  • Marshall-La Tech still to play
  • MU split with MTSU
  • MU swept ODU
  • La Tech beat MTSU
  • MTSU beat ODU
  • ODU beat La Tech

Marshall’s opening opponent, whether in the second round (or what I still call the first round) or quarterfinals? Anybody from UTEP to UTSA. With that, on to the projected final standings.

UTEP lost to Charlotte, so that changed my chart a little. I nailed Southern Miss beating North Texas on Senior Day, and picked MTSU over Marshall.

My injected results/upsets in the final week remain: FIU will take down either UAB or MTSU (I’ll take MTSU), Louisiana Tech will get swept on the MU/WKU roadie. Marshall will win out at home, and I am looking at ODU to get upset at North Texas.

The projected, semi-logical final standings:

1. UAB 16-2
2. Marshall 13-5
3. La Tech 12-6
4. MTSU 12-6
5. ODU 11-7
6. Charlotte 10-8
7. UTEP 10-8
8. FIU 8-10
9. Rice 7-11
10. W. Kentucky 7-11
11. North Texas 7-11
12. FAU 5-13
13. UTSA 3-15

Remember, Southern Miss is omitted.

Should this somehow stand up, the Herd would be the 2nd seed and play at 6 p.m. Central on Thursday, March 10 against the UTEP-WKU winner. Nothing boring about that, folks.

Notes about the tournament: The format is much like the 12-team bracket, except a 12-vs.-13 game is played on Tuesday the 8th on the UAB campus. Winner plays No. 5 on Wednesday the 9th. Top 4 teams still get a bye to quarterfinals.

And this: The bracket is no longer set around the host team getting the prime time slot. Game times are all set, and I am hoping to keep the Herd out of the 3rd seed. Those mean 8:30 p.m. Central, if not later. Newspaper guys don’t like late games.

Here is the tiebreaker system, copied from C-USA’s weekly release:

Ties in winning percentage, and thus for seeding positions shall be broken according to the following;
1. Between TWO teams
a. Head to head
b. If still tied, compare records versus teams with highest winning percentage in Conference play in descending order until tie is
broken. When arriving at a set of tied teams (i.e., winning percentage) while comparing records, use each team’s record versus
the COLLECTIVE tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking process).

c. If still tied, seeding will be determined by draw (*).

2. Between THREE or more teams
a. Conduct a mini round robin among the tied teams. Team with the highest winning percentage will receive the higher seed (#).
b. If a three-way tie still exists after conducting the round robin, follow Step 1b, then Step 1c if needed. If at any point the number of teams tied reduces to two, steps 1 a-c are followed.
(#) When comparing records against single teams or groups of teams, the highest winning percentage prevails, even if the number of games played is unequal.
(*) If a DRAW is necessary, the following will be used:
A single slip of paper with names representing each of the tied institutions will be placed into a container and will be drawn in order from highest (better seed) to lowest.

Big game Thursday, Herd fans!

C-USA standings, tiebreakers, etc.

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Hello, Herd fans.

First, the standings after Thursday’s play. I have broken the ties that can be broken.
1. UAB 13-2. Left: WKU, at FIU, at FAU
2. Marshall 11-4. Left: at MTSU, La Tech, USM
3. La Tech 10-5. Left: Rice, at MU, at WKU
4. MTSU 10-5. Left MU, at FAU, at FIU
5. ODU 9-6. Left: UTSA, at NT, at Rice
6. UTEP 9-7 Left: at Charl, UTSA
7. Charlotte 7-8. Left: UTEP, at Rice, at NT
8. Rice 7-8. Left: at La Tech, Charl, ODU
9. W. Kentucky 6-9. Left: at UAB, USM, La Tech
10. North Texas 6-9. Left: at USM, ODU, Charl
11. Fla. International 6-9. Left: at FAU, UAB, MTSU
12. Fla. Atlantic 5-10. Left: FIU, MTSU, UAB
*****Southern Miss ineligible*****
13. UT-San Antonio 3-13. Left: at ODU, UTEP

I’ll copy and paste the tiebreaker system below. Here’s how it looks from the Herd’s vantage point: an 0-3 finish means a drop as far as 6th seed. I don’t see where a win doesn’t clinch a bye to the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament. A 2-1 finish does not clinch the No. 2 seed, at least looking at it today. A 3-0 finish does, and the Herd would steal the championship with an 0-3 UAB finish (fat chance of that).

 

For the projected final standings, UTEP did indeed lose this week, so I will pick the Miners to win at Charlotte. Earlier projections I will stick with: FIU will take down either UAB or MTSU (I’ll take MTSU), Louisiana Tech will get swept on the MU/WKU roadie, and ineligible Southern Miss will somehow upend North Texas before checking out again. I’ll guess the Herd to lose at MTSU because strange things happen in Murfreesboro, then win out at home. Also, I am looking at ODU getting upset at North Texas.

The projected, illogical final standings:

1. UAB 16-2
2. Marshall 13-5
3. La Tech 12-6
4. MTSU 12-6
5. ODU 11-7
6. UTEP 11-7
7. Charlotte 9-9
8. Rice 8-10
9. North Texas 8-10
10. FIU 8-10
11. WKU 8-10
12. FAU 5-13
13. UTSA 3-15

Remember, Southern Miss is omitted.

Should this somehow stand up, the Herd would be the 2nd seed and play at 6 p.m. Central on Thursday, March 10 against the Charlotte-FIU winner.

Notes about the tournament: The format is much like the 12-team bracket, except a 12-vs.-13 game is played on Tuesday the 8th on the UAB campus. Winner plays No. 5 on Wednesday the 9th. Top 4 teams still get a bye to quarterfinals.

And this: The bracket is no longer set around the host team getting the prime time slot. Game times are all set, and I am hoping to keep the Herd out of the 3rd and 6th seeds. Those mean 8:30 p.m. Central, if not later. Newspaper guys don’t like late games.

Here is the tiebreaker system, copied from C-USA’s weekly release:

Ties in winning percentage, and thus for seeding positions shall be broken according to the following;
1. Between TWO teams
a. Head to head
b. If still tied, compare records versus teams with highest winning percentage in Conference play in descending order until tie is
broken. When arriving at a set of tied teams (i.e., winning percentage) while comparing records, use each team’s record versus
the COLLECTIVE tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking process).
c. If still tied, seeding will be determined by draw (*).

2. Between THREE or more teams
a. Conduct a mini round robin among the tied teams. Team with the highest winning percentage will receive the higher seed (#).
b. If a three-way tie still exists after conducting the round robin, follow Step 1b, then Step 1c if needed. If at any point the number of teams tied reduces to two, steps 1 a-c are followed.
(#) When comparing records against single teams or groups of teams, the highest winning percentage prevails, even if the number of games played is unequal.
(*) If a DRAW is necessary, the following will be used:
A single slip of paper with names representing each of the tied institutions will be placed into a container and will be drawn in order from highest (better seed) to lowest.

Big game Saturday, Herd fans … enjoy!

Projecting C-USA standings

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First, the current standings:
1. UAB 12-2. Left: MU, WKU, at FIU, at FAU
2. Marshall 11-3. Left: at UAB, at MTSU, La Tech, USM
3. MTSU 10-4. Left WKU, MU, at FAU, at FIU
4. La Tech 9-5. Left: NT, Rice, at MU, at WKU
5. UTEP 9-6. Left: at ODU, at Charl, UTSA
6. ODU 8-6. Left: UTEP, UTSA, at NT, at Rice
7/8/9. North Texas 6-8. Left: at La Tech, at USM, ODU, Charl
7/8/9. Rice 6-8. Left: at USM, at La Tech, Charl, ODU
7/8/9. Charlotte 6-8. Left: UTSA, UTEP, at Rice, at NT
10. Fla. International 6-9. Left: at FAU, UAB, MTSU
11. W. Kentucky 5-9. Left: at MTSU, at UAB, USM, La Tech
12. Fla. Atlantic 5-10. Left: FIU, MTSU, UAB
*****Southern Miss ineligible*****
13. UT-San Antonio 2-13. Left: at Charl, at ODU, UTEP

With 2 weekends left, I shall take a stab at a projection on final standings. It’s a hazardous exercise, but I’ll give it a go.

The trick is to predict a few upsets. I’ll get one or two, but college basketball doesn’t follow a neat script. Among the illogical guesses: FIU will take down either UAB or MTSU, Louisiana Tech will get swept on the MU/WKU roadie, UTEP finally loses this week and ineligible Southern Miss will upend North Texas before checking out the next week. I’ll guess the Herd to lose at UAB because the Blazers are really good and lose at MTSU because strange things happen in Murfreesboro, then win out at home.

The projected final standings:

1. UAB 16-2
2. Marshall 13-5
3. MTSU 13-5
4. ODU 11-7
5. UTEP 11-7
6. La Tech 11-7
7. Charlotte 9-9
8. FIU 8-10
9. Rice 7-11
10. WKU 7-11
11. North Texas 7-11
12. FAU 5-13
13. UTSA 3-15

Remember, Southern Miss is omitted. And don’t try to make sense of it; I am throwing in illogical hunches.

Should this somehow stand up, the Herd would be the 2nd seed in a somewhat convoluted tiebreakers, and play at 6 p.m. Central on Thursday, March 10 against the Charlotte-WKU winner.

Notes about the tournament: The format is much like the 12-team bracket, except a 12-vs.-13 game is played on Tuesday the 8th on the UAB campus. Winner plays No. 5 on Wednesday the 9th. Top 4 teams still get a bye to quarterfinals.

And this: The bracket is no longer set around the host team getting the prime time slot. Game times are all set, and I am hoping to keep the Herd out of the 3rd and 6th seeds. Those mean 8:30 p.m. Central, if not later. Newspaper guys don’t like late games.

Big week, Herd fans … enjoy!

 

 

Herd-49ers track meet; who has toughest schedule

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Two items here today, so let’s get to it.

Marshall takes on Charlotte at 7 p.m. Thursday at Cam Henderson Center.

The Herd (13-12, 9-3) is third in Conference USA and the 49ers (10-15, 6-6) are in seventh, so it’s not exactly a 1-vs.-2 thing — unless we’re talking about scoring.

Counting conference games only, Marshall leads the league with 93.3 points per game, and Charlotte averages 82.9. BOTH numbers are higher than the league record of 81.2, set by Texas Christian in 2001-02.

The rest of the tale of the tape, again in league games only:

Scoring margin: Marshall +8.9 (1st), Charlotte +5.2 (4th)
Free throw percentage: Marshall .709 (4th), Charlotte .691 (8th)
Field-goal percentage: Marshall .505 (1st by .18), Charlotte .478 (4th)
3-point percentage: Charlotte .425 (1st), Marshall .402 (2nd)
3-point defense: Marshall .304 (2nd), Charlotte .421 (14th)
Assists: Marshall 19.0 (1st), Charlotte 15.58 (3rd)
Steals: Marshall 6.08 (T-3), Charlotte 5.25 (9th)
Turnover margin: Charlotte +1.5 (4th), Marshall -.067 (10th)
Assist/turnover ratio: Marshall 1.56 (1st), Charlotte 1.48 (3rd)
3-pointers made: Marshall 11.83 (1st), Charlotte 9.75 (2nd)

Are you seeing a trend?

Some individual leaders:
Scoring: Kelly, Herd 23.8 (2nd); Elmore, Herd 17.3 (9th); Uchebo, 49ers 16.0 (12th)
Rebounding: Uchebo, 49ers 13.8 (1st); Kelly, Herd 9.8 (4th)
FG percentage: Taylor, Herd .593 (4th); Uchebo, 49ers .580 (6th); Kelly, Herd .576 (8th); Vanhook, 49ers .571 (9th)
Assists: Elmore, Herd 6.75 (1st); Davis, 49ers 5.58 (4th)
FT percentage: Scott, 49ers .875 (T-6th)
Steals: Kelly, Herd 1.58 (T-7th)
3-pt percentage: White, 49ers .481 (3rd); Scott, 49ers .480 (4th); Elmore, Herd .458 (5th); Ogubueze, 49ers .448 (7th); Browining, Herd .440 (T-10th)
3-pointers made: Elmore, Herd 3.67 (1st); Ogbueze, 49ers 3.58 (2nd), White, 49ers 3.08 (3rd)
Assist/turnover ratio: Ogbueze, 49ers 4.00 (1st); Elmore, Herd 3.24 (2nd); Davis, 49ers 2.03 (8th); Browning, Herd 1.83 (10th)
Offensive rebounds: Uchebo, 49ers 4.67 (1st)
Minutes played: Ogbueze, 49ers 36.58 (2nd); Elmore, Herd 35.83 (T-5th)

There’s your game preview right there. And this: In the Herd’s 103-95 loss at Charlotte, the 49ers led by 19 with 7:25 left. Andrien White hit 8 3-pointers and scored 30, Joseph Uchebo went 24 and 21 and Curran Scott went 12 of 13 from the line. It was the Herd’s worst butt-kicking in conference play.

I’ll end with this: It’s not unreasonable to see Marshall staying at 3rd in the final C-USA standings, and Charlotte possibly sneaking up a spot to 6th. That could bring a Herd-49ers quarterfinal in Birmingham, so Marshall had better figure this team out.

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Next order of business: We start to break down the standings, and the schedule for the rest of the season. The record refers to composite league record of remaining teams.

The current picture:
1. UAB 11-2. Left: at MTSU, MU, WKU, at FIU, at FAU (Record 34-26)
2. MTSU 10-3. Left UAB, WKU, MU, at FAU, at FIU (Record 35-25)
3. Marshall 9-3. Left: Charl, ODU, at UAB, at MTSU, La Tech, USM (Record 46-28)
4. La Tech 8-4. Left: at UTSA, at UTEP, NT, Rice, at MU, at WKU (Record 30-44)
5. ODU 7-5. Left: at WKU, at MU, UTEP, UTSA, at NT, at Rice (Record 30-44)
6. UTEP 7-6. Left: USM, La Tech, at ODU, at Charl, UTSA (Record 27-34)
7. Charlotte 6-6. Left: at MU, at WKU, UTSA, UTEP, at Rice, at NT (Record 30-44)
8. Fla. International 6-7. Left: at NT, at Rice, at FAU, UAB, MTSU (Record 34-29)
9. Fla. Atlantic 5-8. Left: at Rice, at NT, FIU, MTSU, UAB (Record 35-28)
10/11/12. W. Kentucky 4-8. Left: ODU, Charl, at MTSU, at UAB, USM, La Tech (Record 46-28)
10/11/12. North Texas 4-8. Left: FIU, FAU, at La Tech, at USM, ODU, Charl (Record 36-38)
10/11/12. Rice. Left: FAU, FIU, at USM, at La Tech, Charl, ODU (Record 36-38)
*****Southern Miss ineligible*****
13. UT-San Antonio 2-11. Left: La Tech, USM, at Charl, at ODU, UTEP (Record 32-29)

Yes, that’s Marshall and WKU with the best record of teams remaining.