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WVU to open season against Gonzaga

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The West Virginia University men's basketball team is one of 22 that will be a part of the 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, the school announced Wednesday.

The Mountaineers play on the road against Gonzaga in the event's opening game. The rematch of the second-round 2012 NCAA Tournament game begins at midnight Nov. 13 on one of the ESPN networks.

It's the second consecutive season WVU has been involved in the event and the second straight season the Mountaineers have had an unusual tip time. Last season Kent State beat WVU in the Coliseum, 70-60, in a game that started at 10 a.m.

There's another twist involved in the matchup against the Bulldogs, who beat WVU, 77-54, in Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament.

The two teams play in the Tip-Off Marathon as a preliminary game of the Old Spice Classic. Win or lose, both are then a part of the eight-team Classic in Orlando, Fla., and could play one another again in the event Nov. 22-23 and 25.

Following the WVU game is Davidson at New Mexico, Houston Baptist at Hawaii, Stony Brook at Rider, Northern Illinois at Valparaiso, Harvard at Massachusetts, Temple at Kent State, Detroit at St. John's, Butler at Xavier, Michigan State against Kansas and Duke against Kentucky.

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PLACEKICKER Tyler Bitancurt, whose game-winning 28-yard field goal against South Florida sent WVU's football team to the Orange Bowl, was named to the Lou Groza Award Preseason Watch List. The senior is one of 30 in the running to be named the nation's best kicker.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Bitancurt, from Springfield, Va., enters the season ranked No. 5 on the school's career kick scoring list (260 points), No. 5 on the career field goal list (39) and No. 3 on the career extra point list.

Senior Joe Madsen was one of 51 named to the Rimington Trophy Preseason Watch List.

That award goes to the nation's top center and was won in 2006 by WVU's Dan Mozes. That remains the only major national individual award in program history.

Madsen, a 6-3, 310-pound, four-year starter, has started all 38 games he's played in his career. He was on the Big East's all-freshman team in 2009 and named second-team all-conference last season.

Bitancurt and Madsen joined quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin on national watch lists announced this week. Smith and Austin were among the 65 names on the Maxwell Award list. That prize goes to the nation's top overall player.

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WVU WILL name the winning bidder to decorate the gray walls inside Milan Puskar Stadium July 18 and plans to have the work finished in time for the season opener Sept. 1 against Marshall.

The university posted a Request for Bids on Monday that seeks graphic vinyl banners to liven up the walls behind both sidelines and both end zones.

Final drawings must be approved by Aug. 3 and the materials must be available two weeks later.

The work will begin Aug. 20 and is scheduled to finish by Aug. 24.

There will be a mandatory pre-bid conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the stadium. The sealed bids must be received by 3 p.m. July 24.  

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WVU RECEIVED a commitment from a second running back in the 2013 recruiting class from New Jersey's Zaire Williams.

The 5-11, 190-pound Williams is from Sicklerville, N.J., the area where Avon Cobourne played before starring at WVU. Williams began his prep career at Cherokee High, but in February transferred to Timber Creek, which is expected to be one of the state's top teams.

Williams rushed for 1,621 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior and set Cherokee records with 385 yards and six touchdowns in a loss to Cherry Hill East.

He gained 1,233 yards and scored 116 times in the final five games of the season.

He picked the Mountaineers over scholarship offers from Iowa and Wisconsin and was also courted by Connecticut, Pitt, Purdue and Temple. gave Williams three stars and ranked him No. 30 at his position in the 2013 class. gave him three stars and ranked him No. 63 among running backs.

Williams and 6-foot, 170-pound DeShawn Coleman, from Hickory High, in Hermitage, Pa., are the only running backs in the class. Spring Valley High's Elijah Wellman was recruited as a fullback.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at


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