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Marshall Preview: Are We Feeling Lucky?

WVU has 13 wins with 13 regular season games to go. 1/3 of our Big East games are in the books and we’re unexpectedly 1 of 3 teams tied for 3rd in the conference. Marshall men just won their 13th game, too. Last night, the WVU Women's Hoops team beat Marshall to get to...wait for it...13 wins!

If this game were played last Friday (1/13/12), I would’ve expected the Mayans were right and the end of the world was upon us. As it is, we’re only playing Marshall in Charleston in the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic. But I wouldn’t rule out making 13 one of your lottery numbers today.

Last year it did feel like the end of the world when we lost to an inferior Marshall team. We were ranked #21 at the time, but the Mountaineers got into early foul trouble and for a stretch of more than 11 minutes we went without a field goal. After the game our players admitted that they took the opponent too lightly. I’m sure Huggs had this loss playing all week long on the beautiful new flat screens in the spacious new locker room.

WVU (13-5) & Marshall (13-4) have almost identical records at this point in the season. However, the only statistical category where Marshall bests us is rebounds (they average 5 more per game). But don’t let their statistical inferiority fool you. Marshall is a better basketball team this year than it was last. An OT road win over Cincinnati and a six-point road loss to #1 Syracuse would hint that this team is no slouch ("Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch." – Ty Webb).

Here is the game key: Deniz Kilicli cannot get two fouls early, as he has a tendency to do (he’s only averaging 25 minutes a game – 10 less than Truck & KJ). While I’m really pleased with how 6’10" freshman Kevin Noreen is coming along, his thin frame can’t move the Marshall big men like the Turk can. It’s rather simple: we win the boards - we win the game. We can’t do this with Deniz on the bench.

Incidentally, Kilicli’s number is #13.

This game is all over the TV in West Virginia, on ESPN Full Court at your favorite watering hole, or on ESPN3. Tip off is 7:30 tonight at the Charleston Civic Center.