HUNTINGTON -- Marshall has lost four consecutive games -- three in Conference USA -- heading into tonight's home date against Tulane.
The Herd men's basketball team RPI is sinking as a result of losses to West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, UAB and Memphis in the past two weeks. Marshall dropped from sole possession of first place to fifth, and as of now the Herd would be on the outside looking in at a conference tournament bye, much less the NCAA Tournament.
But this is a much different scenario than a season ago.
Remember that? Maybe some opted for short-term memory, but less than a year ago - early February - Marshall was 3-6 in Conference USA play.
Tonight at 7 at the Henderson Center, the Herd (13-8, 4-3 Conference USA) will be looking for its fifth win at the midpoint of league play.
Last year's fifth league win came on Feb. 16.
"There is no panic," Marshall senior guard Shaquille Johnson said. "It comes down to a play here or a play there or a made shot here or a missed shot there. Everybody understands that.
Marshall's RPI is 68 with Tulane (14-7, 2-5) visiting. The Herd has nine regular-season games and the conference tournament in Memphis to restore its RPI and enhance its postseason resume.
"Lot of time left, lots of opportunities," second-year Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. "We've got to scratch and claw."
Tonight's opportunity is a pivotal one considering the schedule that looms ahead. After a one-game stop at home, Marshall has to travel to Tulsa this Saturday and UCF next Wednesday - two teams that have jumped ahead of the Herd in the C-USA standings.
Tulsa has won six straight games and has tonight off, meaning the Golden Hurricane (13-9, 6-2) will be well-rested Saturday.
Tulane, however, is going in the opposite direction. The Green Wave is 2-3 since the loss of Kendall Simmons, last year's leading scorer and a preseason first-team all-conference pick this season.
Simmons injured his Achilles tendon in an overtime loss to Southern Miss on Jan. 7 and needed surgery that ended his junior season.