Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
Marshall will visit Virginia next season in a non-conference game, according to scheduling guru and friend of the site Jon Rothstein.
Virginia will host Marshall as part of its 2018-19 non-conference schedule, per a source.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 23, 2018
This is notable for a few reasons:
First and foremost, you might recall that in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Marshall won a game, while Virginia did not. The Thundering Herd beat Wichita State, 81-75, behind 27 points from Jon Elmore. Remember this?
Virginia was a 1 seed and actually lost to 16 seed UMBC. To make matters worse, the Cavaliers were the first 1 seed EVER to lose to a 16 seed, and the game wasn’t even close. The Retrievers won 74-54 and led for almost the entire second half.
So just to recap real quick: Marshall won a game in the NCAA Tournament, while ACC power Virginia endured the most humiliating defeat in March Madness history. Virginia lost to UMBC. Marshall beat Wichita State. Marshall: good. Virginia: bad.
Here’s the other part: This game will feature a contrast of styles that should be fascinating to watch. And no, I don’t mean Marshall’s style of winning NCAA Tournament games and Virginia’s style of losing them.
What I mean is that Virginia was the slowest team in the country last year. The Cavaliers ranked 351 out of 351 teams in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom. The Thundering Herd ranked sixth. They also had the third-shortest offensive possession length, while Virginia was again dead-last.
Now to be fair to the Cavaliers, their style worked for them (except for when they lost to UMBC in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, making them the first 1 seed to ever lose to a 16 seed). They went 28-2 in the regular season with the best defense in the nation and a remarkably disciplined — if also painful to watch — offense. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome will both be back and there’s no reason to think Virginia won’t be at or near the top of the ACC again.
But they’ll have their hands full in trying to slow down Marshall. Virginia’s loss to UMBC featured just 62 total possessions. Marshall hasn’t played a game with 62 or fewer possessions since Feb. 2015, while the Cavaliers played 18 games with even fewer last year alone.
If Elmore withdraws from the NBA Draft and returns to school, Virginia will have to figure out how to stop a guy who can catch fire and never let up. Remember: this is the same player who once scored 101 points in an intramural game. Shut up about the competition. That’s impressive. He was also one of two Marshall players to average over 20 points per game last year. C.J. Burks was the other, and he has already said he plans to return, meaning the Thundering Herd will return almost its entire roster from last year.
When the date of this game is announced, circle it on your calendar. Also remember that Virginia lost to UMBC, becoming the first 1 seed to ever lose to a 16 seed. This is important.