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Introducing Cinderella: Marshall makes its first tournament appearance in 31 years

Marshall v Xavier

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 19: Jon Elmore #33 of the Marshall Thundering Herd celebrates with teammates after a basket against the Xavier Musketeers in the first half of a game at Cintas Center on December 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Xavier won 81-77. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Dan D’Antoni

Record: 24-10, 12-6 (Fourth in Conference USA)

Rankings and Ratings:

Kenpom: 116
RPI: 96
AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Marshall had a solid season in a decent league but they don’t have particularly strong computer numbers among mid-major teams. The Thundering Herd are likely going to be in the 12-14 range among teams.

Names you need to know: Marshall has a pair of 20-point scorers in junior guards Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks as both players can get hot and take over a game. Ajdin Penava is another potent scorer at 15 points per contest as the junior forward is a really good third option.

Stats you need to know: Dan D’Antoni is the older brother of NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni. The younger D’Antoni is famous for running a fast-paced offense that maximizes shot attempts and shots within the first seven seconds of the shot clock. Marshall follows that same approach, as they’re No. 5 in the country in adjusted tempo. Only Lipscomb and Oklahoma have played faster among potential NCAA tournament teams.

Big wins, bad losses: Conference USA had some solid teams this season as the Thundering Herd knocked off Middle Tennessee twice and Western Kentucky once during the season. Marshall also had some sub-150 RPI losses to Morehead State and UT San Antonio.

How’d they get here?: Marshall started the positive momentum with a win last Saturday over Middle Tennessee before winning the Conference USA Tournament with three straight wins. The Thundering Herd beat UT San Antonio, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky.

Outlook: Ending the season on a positive note makes Marshall a team to watch. Although the Thundering Herd have been inconsistent at times this season, they also have enough offense to make things interesting with the right opponent.

How do I know you?: Dan D’Antoni, as previously mentioned, has NBA bloodlines thanks to his brother. Dan was an assistant in the NBA under his brother for nine years with three teams.