Now would be a good time to try and buy fire insurance on your couch if you live in the greater West Virginia area.
With Marshall’s surprising upset over Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 13-seeded Thundering Herd now lay square in West Virginia’s path to the Sweet 16. The two schools are on opposite edges of the state from each other — West Virginia to the southwest in Morgantown, Marshall in the northeast in Huntington — but some harsh feelings between each other have traveled across the distance.
Back in 2014, Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni accused Bob Huggins of being “afraid” to play the Thundering Herd in a continuing home-and-home series. Huggins, to put it mildly, was not happy. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg transcribed Huggins’ comments from his weekly radio show later that week, in which he tore into D’Antoni:
“He can say I’m afraid all he wants. I’ve probably coached 1,116 more games than he has. It’s ridiculous to say something like that. We’re afraid. Yeah, we’re really afraid. It’s crazy. We’ve beaten Duke. [Mike Krzyzewski’s] a pretty good coach. Was I afraid? I don’t think I was afraid playing Duke. Played [Jim] Boeheim. Used to play him every year. He’s a great coach, I wasn’t afraid. Why would I be afraid? The thing that’s most laughable, and I’ll get in trouble for saying it I know, but I’m to the point in my life where I really don’t care. How about this? ‘We’re back.’ That was their sixth loss in a row. ‘We’re back.’ ‘We’re back’ alright. Honestly it’s laughable.”
The two teams met once more, in 2015, with West Virginia winning 86-68. They haven’t met since.
The Mountaineers and Marshall have a one-sided rivalry dating back to the early part of the 20th century. The two teams have played 44 times in basketball, with West Virginia holding a 33-11 advantage. And in football, it’s even more lopsided — Marshall has never beaten the Mountaineers in 12 tries.
West Virginia still has to get past Murray State in the first round of the tournament. But if the Mountaineers do their job, Sunday’s contest might turn out to be one of the most electric atmospheres of the early round games.
Hide your couches.
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