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Marshall upset rekindles in-state rivalry that West Virginia ended

From ESPN - March 17, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- As the clock hit triple zeroes on Marshalls first-ever NCAA tournament victory, its athletic director, Mike Hamrick, fought back tears. He hugged his twin sons, embraced other Marshall fans around him and soaked it all in.

Few moments in the history of Marshall athletics could compare.

It means a great deal to our community, he said. Its the community that loves Marshall. Its a community that got destroyed in 1970 with the plane crash, that loves its university. To get the first win -- the first [NCAA tournament] game in 31 years -- it means everything for Marshall. It means everything to our community.

As Hamrick reflected on the meaning, West Virginia -- the only other Division I basketball program in the state -- took the floor at San Diego States Viejas Arena. A Mountaineers victory would set up the first game between teams from the state of West Virginia in NCAA tournament history. Hamrick was rooting for it to happen.

We played them for years and then they discontinued the series for whatever reason. I dont know, Hamrick said. We played in Charleston. They just said, We dont want to play in Charleston anymore. And thats OK; I didnt have an issue with that at all. Its kind of different that you have to come to San Diego to play.

Sure enough, fourth-seeded West Virginia took care of business, setting up one of the most intriguing second-round games in the tournament.

West Virginia and Marshall played at least once a year from the 1978-79 season through the 2015-16 season, with every matchup from 1992 on taking place in Charleston, the state capital. And then West Virginia, which has won the past five meetings and 9 of the past 10, pulled out of the annual series.

Why?

They dont want to play us, Marshall coach Dan DAntoni said Friday. Ask them.

Were not up to them, he added, sarcastically.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had no interest going into detail for why the series was called off, but its safe to assume the Mountaineers, as the bigger program and draw, no longer saw the benefit of a neutral-site game against the Thundering Herd.

I do not want to get into the reasons, Huggins said. They can come to Morgantown anytime they want to play. We would love for them to.

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