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By RICHARD CHEEKS
The Cats passed their Lipscomb quiz last Saturday, probably earned a grade of C+ or B-, and this Saturday they get their last quiz of the month, the Marshall quiz, before their December, non-conference Final Exam on December 29, at Louisville. The Marshall quiz will be more difficult than the Lipscomb quiz, and more difficult than any of the non-BCS quizzes of this non-conference season. However, make no mistake, the Louisville Final Exam will be the most difficult non-conference test the Cats are likely to face all season, including the big dance because the Cats will have to do it on the Cards’ home instead of Rupp or even a neutral location.
Marshall has opened the season with seven wins in twelve starts, and one of the seven wins came at the expense of non-D1 opponent District of Columbia by 22 points. All six of Marshall’s D1 wins have been at home, and their most impressive win to date was over #155 Nevada by 7 points. Marshall has not won on the road so far this season, losing at #97 Villanova by 12, and at #309 Hofstra by 3 in 2OT. Marshall has also lost to #16 Cincinnati at a “semi-home” venue by 16.
Marshall has averaged about 71 to 72 possessions per game, producing 74.1 ppg (1.03 ppp) and allowing 71.4 ppg (1.00 ppp) against an early schedule that Pomeroy rates as the 300th toughest (0.3876). Marshall has turned the ball over on 20.8% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 17.5% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, Marshall has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 40.2%, about 7% above the 33% NCAA average, and a defensive rebounding rate of 67.1%, which is the same as the national average.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 to 71 possessions per game, producing 78.1 ppg (1.10 ppp) and allowing 61.8 ppg (0.88 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0..5225 (164th). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.8% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 21.7% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 33.7% and 69.8% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of the Cats by 23 points, 83-60, in a game played at a pace of 73 possessions for the Cats and 73 possessions for Marshall. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kentucky’s favor by 26 points, 87-61 at a pace of 71 possessions. From my perspective, a margin on Saturday of less than 14 points would not bode well for the Cats final exam preparations, and a win by 35 or more would suggest that the team is benefiting from the first full week of Camp Calipari.