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Chuck McGill: Capital Classic date, Louisville-Marshall series and Herd hoops court all on the move

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The annual college basketball clash between the Mountain State's only two Division I programs -- the Capital Classic -- has veered from its regular format in recent years.

That'll happen again this season with the first Saturday matchup in the series' 25-game history at the Charleston Civic Center.

The details are still being finalized, but the annual hoops series between WVU and Marshall will be played Saturday, Dec. 14. 

That is the penultimate weekend before Christmas. 

After separating the men's and women's games into a two-night event the last two Classics, the games will be played on the same day again, although don't anticipate a traditional back-to-back doubleheader. One idea being kicked around is to start the women's game at 2 p.m. and have the men tip off at 7:30 p.m.

The intrastate series was first played at the Civic Center in 1980 but didn't become the Capital Classic until 1989. It became an annual fixture in the 12,380-seat Charleston arena in 1991-92.

This year will be the 25th Capital Classic and the 22nd in a row at the Civic Center.

The last 14 meetings in Charleston have been sellouts, although the 11,512 in attendance last December represented the smallest crowd since 1999 (9,132).

It was the first December meeting between the schools since 1996. The game had previously been a January staple.

But just like the Classic in the middle of conference play, the weekday Classic is about to become a thing of the past.

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College sports fans might feel the aftershocks of realignment for a few more years.

For instance, Marshall's football series with Louisville will likely be moved to accommodate the Cardinals' switch to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

U of L has added a road game with Notre Dame in 2014, which gives the program five home games and seven away -- a ratio that college athletic directors dislike.

Don't fret, Herd fans. Louisville isn't going to send MU athletics boss Mike Hamrick a $500,000 check to wiggle out of the home-and-home contract that was announced in 2009. Marshall won at Louisville, 17-13, in 2011 to snap a 19-game skid against teams from Bowl Championship Series leagues.

The more likely scenario, however, is that Marshall's home game on the back-end of the deal will be moved to 2015 or 2016 so that Louisville can add another home game next season and rectify the schedule imbalance.

The Herd can replace the Cards with a Football Subdivision opponent for 2014.

It'd be ideal if the Louisville game in Huntington could be pushed to 2016, so the Herd isn't hosting a Big 10 team (Purdue) and ACC team in the non-conference portion of its 2015 schedule, but the decision hasn't been finalized.

Also, look for Marshall to play at Louisville in hoops again this season in an NCAA exempt event, another strong indication U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich has no intention of bailing on the gridiron deal. 

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If you haven't taken a gander at the latest trends in college basketball courts, fire up your favorite search engine and check them out.

Florida International has a beach-themed court it'll debut this season. UCF and former Herd Coach Donnie Jones will play on a blacktop-like surface at UCF Arena. The University of Memphis let Tigers fans choose its new court design, which features an outline of the city's skyline and the Hernando Desoto Bridge.

The Thundering Herd basketball programs will also play on a new home court this coming season, but don't expect an outrageous new look.

"I'm a traditionalist," Hamrick said.

The new court will be ready for the 2013-14 hoops season. The court will cost MU $156,500.

Next, the turf at Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be replaced. The current FieldTurf debuted for the 2005 football season, so this will its ninth and final year of use.

In 2005, the FieldTurf installation process cost $855,000. The new turf will carry a price tag of approximately $800,000 and the project should be completed for the 2014 season.

The gussying up of Marshall athletics facilities continues.


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