CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the eve of the 40th West Virginia-Marshall men's basketball game, I don't think Mike Hamrick is going to post up Bob Huggins, but these state natives definitely are of a different mind on the future of the Capital Classic series.
After a home romp past Rutgers on Saturday, Huggins, the WVU coach, said playing the WVU-Marshall game "in the middle of the conference season is a disaster ... It doesn't help either team ... It ought to be in the preseason (November-December)."
On Monday, Hamrick, the Marshall athletic director, said the Herd is "very comfortable with the game being played where it is on the schedule."
Hamrick said he had heard previously on the Charleston Civic Center date as it related to Huggins' future hopes and wishes, but wouldn't get any more specific other than to say that WVU's pending move from the Big East to the Big 12 could be involved.
West Virginia has won 28 of the 39 games played, but Marshall has won three of the last seven. WVU (13-5) and Marshall (13-4) go into Wednesday's 7:30 tipoff at the Civic Center as legitimate NCAA Tournament candidates. The game isn't going to hurt either's chances because they're both in the top 34 of the RPI with strong strength of schedule numbers.
Huggins' point is that the Capital Classic, a game of great emotion and passion, subtracts and detracts from both teams' focus in league play.Hamrick says that to play the game in December "takes away some of the significance," and fans are thinking about other matters besides hoops then.
"It's a sellout where it is," the Marshall AD said. "The state Legislature is in session, and the legislators all come to the game, and it's a great way to expose our universities to them and the state. I don't know that the Legislature would be happy if we moved it. "It's a big economic boost to the city of Charleston where it is. In December, football is still going on, you have the holidays coming up. Both schools went to bowls this year. There's not going to be as much focus on the basketball game if it's in December."
If WVU gets the immediate move to the Big 12 it wants, the mid-January Capital Classic date could be in jeopardy.
A check of the 10 Big 12 men's basketball team schedules this season show that no non-league games are played once conference play opens the first week of January.
Those league play-interrupting games are rare in the Big East and Conference USA, too.
Besides Marshall-WVU, the Big East has only three, all national TV dates - Connecticut at Tennessee and St.
John's at Duke and home against UCLA.
In C-USA, the non-league dates after the early January start of league play are WVU-Marshall, Tennessee-Memphis, Rice-TCU, Xavier-Memphis, TCU-SMU and Division II Palm Beach Atlantic at UCF (a game the Knights needed to fill out a schedule).
"What are most of those (in C-USA)? Rivalries, just like this," Hamrick said.
The others are national TV dates. Hamrick also pointed out that WVU, in recent seasons, played Big Ten powers Purdue and Ohio State once Big East play began.
Next season, West Virginia is scheduled to play Kansas State in Charleston - unless that game is scrubbed since they could have a home-andhome series in Big 12 play (if WVU extricates itself from the Big East). Cincinnati comes to the Civic Center to play Marshall next season, too.