Wednesday night was a low point for the WVU and Marshall basketball teams. The Mountaineers suprisingly stubbed their toe in Madison Square Garden against a young St. Johns team, while Marshall struggle to score and lost at home to UAB.
As a resutl, this weekend is a big weekend for both the Mountaineers and the Thundering Herd. Both have marquis games against outstanding marquis opponents and both teams are on the road.
The Mountaineers have a chance to make a national statement as they take on a team considered one of the top 3-5 in the country, the Syracuse Orange. When you play Syracuse you know that you will get a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge. This season is no different. Syracuse has a Hall of Fame Coach in Jim Boeheim and they have great players. However, they also limit the opponent’s possessions as they play the old-school 2-3 zone and they don’t let you take quick shots.
It takes time to probe their tall, athletic zone and this will be a good test for many of West Virginia’s young players. They will have to handle it better than they did on Wednesday night in The Garden or it could get embarrassing in the Carrier Dome.
For Marshall, the challenge is more urgent, at least in terms of post-season play. A loss at Syracuse tomorrow, doesn’t hurt West Virginia’s NCAA chances. Marshall, on the other hand, doesn’t have the margin for error that the Mountaineers have. When you play in a one or two bid league, every loss seems to hurt and every win is important. Time is running out on Tom Herrion’s team.
The Herd plays at one of the great home courts in America when they play Memphis in Memphis. The Tigers are not as daunting under Josh Pastner as they were under John Calipari, but they still have terrific talent.
Something was missing for both WVU and Marshall on Wednesday night. The Mountaineers looked uninspired and quite frankly, did not look like a Bob Huggins basketball team. Most Marshall fans felt like coming into the season, this Herd team was the most talented group in Huntington in years. But, something seems to be wrong with the team chemistry. This weekend is important for both state programs.