HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — “I like our chances.”
That’s the assessment from Dan D’Antoni, head coach for Marshall University’s Men’s Basketball Team, ahead of the Herd’s return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987.
Marshall (24-10), a 13 seed in the East Region, faces the No. 4 seed Wichita State Shockers at 1:30 ET Friday in an NCAA Tournament Opening Round game in San Diego, Ca.
The game from San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena will be televised on TNT.
“Southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky have always been basketball kind of people and we’ve got a chance to get us back to a national look a little big,” D’Antoni said.
On Sunday, D’Antoni, his players and hundreds of Marshall fans watched the NCAA Tournament announcements at Marshall’s Cam Henderson Center in Huntington.
“I like the opportunity to be able to spread the floor with them, see what they can do,” D’Antoni said of Wichita State a day later on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“We’ve got a chance to go out there and play well and we might be able to pull a big upset.”
Marshall Head Basketball Coach Dan D’Antoni joins @HoppyKercheval to talk about his team making the NCAA tournament for the first time in three decades. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/AaGH5wtEOp
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) March 12, 2018
D’Antoni knows Wichita State well.
Gregg Marshall, a former Marshall assistant coach, is head coach for the Shockers (25-7). His assistant, Donnie Jones, is a former Marshall University head coach.
Their team is making its 7th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 2013, Wichita State played in the Final Four.
“I would watch them most of the time anyway, supporting them when I watch just ballgames on TV, so I’ve seen them a lot,” D’Antoni said.
“We’re kind of connected with Wichita with their coaches and, hell, you’re bringing West Virginia (University) out there, so it looks like a West Virginia reunion.”
Tipoff for No. 5 seed WVU and Murray State, a No. 12. seed, is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Friday in San Diego.
If both WVU and Marshall win Friday, they’ll play each other in the NCAA Tournament’s 2nd round.
“That game should be played all the time anyway,” D’Antoni said.
“That’s not here or there. That’s not about myself or Coach (Bob) Huggins who is a great coach. It’s not about that. That game should be played for West Virginians.”
The most recent WVU – Marshall basketball game was in 2016 after which the Mountaineers declined to renew the series.
Marshall received an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament after beating Western Kentucky, 67-66, in Saturday’s Conference USA championship game.
When Marshall last appeared in the NCAA Tournament, D’Antoni was coaching at Socastee High School.
“You just want to go out there and represent the state, West Virginia, well and our school at Marshall here and just give a good account of ourselves and the chips are going to fall where they’re going to fall,” D’Antoni said.
“The best thing to do is go out there, enjoy it, play as hard as you can and we’ll live with the result.”