Last week was amazing for the league and the weekend was awful. Both Marshall and Middle Tennessee were obliterated in their second round games. The Herd opened up nicely against WVU but then proceeded to allow 25 straight points on their way to a deficit of 29. Jon Elmore and company were stunned by the 1-2-2 three-quarter court press and had nothing for the Mountaineers after that.
Bob Huggins’ group were too dominant inside and too quick outside defensively. Marshall couldn’t break the press and was denied at the rim to ignite breaks in response. CJ Burks, Marshall’s other great guard has had a tough four game stretch dating back to the Southern Miss win in the CUSA Tournament. Since his second round 29 point effort against UTSA, he has only managed 32 in the next three — including the CUSA Tournament Final. Against WVU he struggled to put up the 12 on 3/15 shooting. In the four games since UTSA, he has shot .254. On a night where every score attempt was a grind, getting something from him was an absolute necessity.
Meanwhile in Louisville, Middle Tennessee limped out of the NIT. The Cardinals outscored Middle in the second quarter — yes, the NIT is experimenting with rules changes — 26-10 and then cruised to the victory from there. Nick King put up 24 but Louisville was too good from deep — 11/24 from beyond the stripe.
For Middle, this was the end of an era: Kermit Davis is officially now the head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, and this class of league-dominant Blue Raiders is done, also.
Marshall is coming into its own, and had a great tournament first round game that was overshadowed by UMBC, Buffalo, and Loyola-Chicago. The Herd won the league tournament and beat number 4 Wichita State in the first round — the first appearance in 33 years and the first NCAA Tournament win — and will remember this special season.
The league still has an NIT entrant in WKU. UTSA is still in the CIT and North Texas hosts the second round game of the CBI. This quality season in CUSA continues.