Saturday night in Frisco, Texas will be all about basketball, college hoops, when the Thundering Herd and the Hilltoppers take Ford Center At The Star court. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET with the No #3 and #4 seeds squaring off for a spot in this year’s Big Dance. C-USA Basketball Championship Free Pick: Marshall vs Western Kentucky.

The four first-round C-USA matchups were played out on Wednesday. All four winners advanced to the quarterfinal round to face one of four teams that earned a first-round bye. Both of the schools in the championship had Wednesday byes and are both playing their third game in three days.

Teams that received a first-round bye
1. Middle Tennessee (24-6, 16-2)

2. Old Dominion (24-6, 15-3)

3. Western Kentucky (22-9, 14-4)

4. Marshall (21-10, 12-6)

It is noteworthy to mention that the two squads today are much different in talent and scheme. The Herd want to push the pace recklessly while the Hilltoppers are much more deliberate and defensive minded.

In addition Marshall was swept by Western Kentucky (-5.5, 159) in the regular season. Western Kentucky won both contests by double digits. The early round upset of Middle Tennessee makes the stakes for this game large. The Herd haven’t been a part of the NCAA tournament for seemingly ever while the Hilltoppers history of hardcourt success make them much more comfortable in tonight’s affair.

Western Kentucky turned up the defensive pressure on Friday night putting a 57-49 defeat on Old Dominion. Neither squad was efficient from the floor shooting less than 40 percent. As is the case in closely contested college basketball games, especially for the ‘Toppers, their ability to draw fouls and sink free throws was the difference. Western Kentucky outscored the Herd by eight from the charity stripe (18-10 advantage at the foul line).

Marshall (23-10) advanced to tonight’s C-USA title game with a double-digit win over Southern Miss on Friday. Marshall wired the Golden Eagles leading by 20-plus points at many stages of the event.

Western Kentucky (24-9) are not only the more experienced squad they are the more capable of playing a complete game tonight. The Hilltoppers defeated the likes of a then-healthy SMU Mustangs team this season, as well, registered a four point win over ranked Purdue. Western Kentucky also registered a good loss, if there is such an animal, losing by eight points to Villanova.

The Hilltoppers lost six games in the regular season. They did so fighting a number of in-season issues to key player personnel. They come into tonight’s championship affair whole. The NCAA cleared a pair of players to be active at mid-season and the team is very familiar with their current rotations.

There is no shortage of talent on the Hilltoppers roster. The likes of Virginia transfer Darius Thompson, as well, one-time Kansas Jayhawk Dwight Coleby, bring a 10-plus point per game average to the court. WKU has five double-digit scorers in their starting lineup.

Marshall is much more dependent on a trio of offensive options. Guards Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks average 20-plus per contest while forward Ajdin Penava has been good for 15 ppg this year.

The Hilltoppers don’t receive enough credit for what they are capable of offensively. And their 119th rank in points allowed is deceiving. They are solid defensively and don’t allow open shots from any point on the floor.

The Herd rank 8th in Division I hoops in points per game. However, they are at the bottom of most defensive categories and allow nearly 80 points per game. In addition they have a minus rebound margin. These two variables make them a fade in the league championship in Frisco tonight.

Play on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers minus the points.


C-USA Basketball Championship Free Pick: Marshall vs Western Kentucky


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Tony Finn

Tony "Fish" Finn has been advising clients for over two decades and after nearly 22 years he continues to lead a group of both North American and World Sports specialists covering games and or matches from coast to coast. His team of consultants and sources form a global web that are unmatched in World Wide events.

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Tony Finn

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