Pitt not only has the bowl game against Northwestern today but the basketball team is also back in action with a contest against Marshall tonight. The Panthers officially put the cap on the non-conference schedule as they look for their fifth straight win in a game against the Thundering Herd.
Marshall is a respectable 7-5 on the year and while this is a game the Panthers should win, they can't be caught sleeping here. In their last time out, Marshall nearly beat a ranked Cincinnati team (on the road, no less), falling by only two points.
The Thundering Herd offense is, um, something of a concern. They've put up a lot of points this year at various times - 98 against Western Carolina, 98 against Ohio, 85 against Chattanooga, 111 (yes, 111) against Toledo, 88 against Akron, and 91 in that loss to the Bearcats. The problem has been for as much as they score, they often give up even more. Their 86.6 points per game is good for 15th in the nation but the 84.7 points they give up is near the bottom of the country.
Like most people, I haven't seen Marshall play a game this year. But it sounds a lot like what Duquesne used to do in coming down the court every time and trying to get a shot off as quickly as possible. The Dukes relied on a ton of three-pointers to run that system and Marshall shoots almost 30 of them a game. It's one of those things where if they're hot, they will give Pitt problems. They shot exactly 30 of them (making a ridiculous 17) in that near-win against Cincinnati, so you can bet that will be the strategy against the Panthers, too. Pitt needs to get out and contest shots even better than normal in this one.
How the Panthers' guards match up defensively against Marshall's guys is probably the key to the game. The Thundering Herd have six players scoring in double figures and the two main guys are Jon Elmore and Stevie Browning, averaging nearly 40 combined points a game. If Pitt can't keep those guys in check, it could be a long night.
Things tip off at 7:00 p.m. and you can see it on WatchESPN. Join us here to comment live during the game.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.