CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There is at least one Kanawha Valley native who doesn't expect the West Virginia men's basketball team to lose to Marshall in back-to-back seasons when they meet in the 2012 Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.
"I don't think (Bob) Huggins is going to get beat again, not in that game," said University of Akron guard and former Nitro High School star Brett McClanahan. "He lost last year, but not twice in a row. That's why they came out and played better against the second MAC (Mid-American Conference) team they played."
McClanahan, of course, was referring to his Zips, who lost to WVU 77-56 in Morgantown on Nov. 28, just 13 days after the Mountaineers fell to MAC member Kent State. On Jan. 1, Akron went to Huntington and topped the Herd, 67-51.
Akron is the only team to play WVU and Marshall to date this season.
WVU (13-5) and Marshall (13-4) square off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, a sellout at the 12,360-seat Civic Center (WOWK telecast).
In last year's meeting, the Herd - in Coach Tom Herrion's first season - earned a 75-71 victory.
Marshall, under Coach Ron Jirsa, also defeated WVU in back-to-back seasons (2004-05, 2005-06), giving the Herd a 3-5 record in the series since 2005.
WVU was considered the favorite in those meetings, reaching the NCAA Tournament every March after losing to the Herd in the regular season.
In 2005, the Mountaineers reached the Elite Eight before losing to Louisville in overtime. One year later, they reached the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Texas by three. Last year, WVU's third loss to the Herd in the last eight seasons, the Mountaineers reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Despite last year's West Virginia loss, McClanahan said the difference is Huggins.
"WVU always plays hard, it's Huggins' MO," McClanahan said. "They play so hard, it makes up for the mistakes they make. It makes up for the lack of skill in some areas.
"There's only one thing you can control every day and that's how hard you play. They play hard every single day."
Against the Mountaineers, McClanahan played 30 minutes and finished with five points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal. On New Year's Day, he played 21 minutes off the bench and had two rebounds, an assist and a steal but no points.