CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Tuesday, I saw a video of DMX singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
It made me wonder. Which might be worse: the rapper's rendition or tonight's WVU-Marshall basketball game at Charleston's Civic Center?
The Thundering Herd has fallen to South Dakota State and Hofstra this season. It's coming off back-to-back three-point victories over Morehead State and UNC-Wilmington.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, have fallen to Davidson. Their lone victories are over Marist and VMI.
Out of 345 NCAA Division I teams, Marshall is No. 268 in scoring defense through Sunday's games, allowing 71.6 points per game, while West Virginia is No. 201, allowing 67.4.
In field goal percentage, MU is No. 120 (44.8 percent) to WVU's 253 (41.2). In 3-point field goal percentage, MU is No. 207, while WVU is somewhere below No. 265 at 23.5 percent. The NCAA requires teams make a minimum of five per game to show up in those rankings. Not kidding.
Then I remembered the electric atmosphere that always accompanies this game at this venue. I remembered the way the contests are almost always tight. I remembered that who-can-hold-the-cheerleaders-up-longest showdown.
It spurred me to again break this sucker down.
My gut says the two teams will swap their usual identities. Marshall, rather than WVU, will try to make this a physical, half-court game, while the Mountaineers will try to push the ball and put pressure on the guards.
The key: rebounding. When Marshall is superior on the boards, it usually wins. The Herd has seven players 6-foot-8 or taller.
I expect WVU to counter by playing small. When Mountaineer big men Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray are on the court together, defensive trouble ensues. Opponents' big men have had success offensively.
So let's assume Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins starts Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds, Keaton Miles, Terry Henderson and Murray, and break this down.
If he's on, though, WVU could be in trouble. Kane has a height advantage (6-4 to Staten's 6-1) and will look to post up the Mountaineer.
It's a contrast in styles. Kane plays hard, can pass - he might be MU's only pure passer - but isn't a true point guard. Staten, meanwhile, is a strong, true point guard with speed and a better handle on the ball. On offense, Staten will try to penetrate. On defense, he'll pressure you like mad.
Scarver, though, has converted just 35 of 88 (39.8 percent) of his field goal attempts. Hinds has taken less than half as many shots (41), but has at least hit 43.9 percent.
Again, a contrast. Hinds is a slasher with more speed than Scarver. The Mountaineer will try to get by MU's guard on offense and hope to pester with quickness on defense. Scarver is not a great defender.