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MU, Irish have games coming up

March 6, 2019

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

Here is a frozen mix of opinions.

• Marshall University’s football program and the Thundering Herd men’s basketball program both have future games scheduled against Notre Dame.

Imagine that.

It was only 106 years in the making.

That’s how long it has been since either of Marshall’s major sports has played the Fighting Irish. Journey all the way back in the record books to Marshall’s 1912-13 basketball season and there it is — a 27-9 loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 8 in South Bend, Indiana.

The Thundering Herd, which actually didn’t bear that nickname in those days, compiled a 1-4 record under coach Boyd Chambers that season.

But my guess is the scoring will be considerably higher when Marshall plays at Notre Dame during the 2019-20 season.

Football?

Marshall has never played Notre Dame in football. But that’s all going to change Sept. 10, 2022, when the Herd visits South Bend.

That means in the space of the next three seasons, Marshall will play Notre Dame in both men’s basketball and football.

How about that?

Besides the exposure Marshall will get from playing Notre Dame in football and basketball, the university also is expected to reap a handsome amount of money in guarantees.

Marshall also already has scheduled a game against Appalachian State in the 2022 football season.

As for hoops, besides playing at Notre Dame the Herd also will take on the University of Florida in a road game during the 2019-20 season.

Other non-conference basketball games include such opponents as Robert Morris, Howard, Toledo (home-and-home), Akron, Duquesne, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Northern Iowa.

This is some very exciting scheduling news for Marshall’s fans.

• Remember when the Marshall men’s basketball team was struggling and lots of people were writing them off?

Well, guess what.

It is time to write the Herd back in.

Marshall has proven that by posting impressive back-to-back wins on the road. First, the Herd got even with Louisiana Tech, beating the Bulldogs 90-79 Thursday to end their unbeaten streak at home. Then, Marshall roared back from a slow start to out-energize North Texas, 85-82, Sunday in Denton, Texas.

And now?

Marshall has a very legitimate chance to sweep through conference bonus play with a 4-0 record.

The Herd hosts FIU at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the same Cam Henderson Center where the Panthers already have lost to MU this season, 105-97. Then, Marshall hosts Florida Atlantic at noon Saturday in “The Cam” where the Owls also lost to the Herd this season, 96-84.

The problem is even if Marshall does go 4-0 in bonus play and raises its Conference USA record to 11-7, the Herd still can’t get seeded higher than No. 6 for the C-USA Tournament due to the rules of pod play.

In fact, Southern Miss (9-7) and UAB (9-8) both could finish with lower league records than Marshall, yet will be seeded higher when the Conference USA Tournament is played March 13-16 in Frisco, Texas.

It’s true.

Southern Miss has to play at regular-season champion Old Dominion on Wednesday and then host UTSA on Saturday. As for UAB, the Blazers host Old Dominion on Saturday.

Yet, no matter what their conference records are, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, UTSA, Southern Miss and UAB all will be seeded higher than Marshall.

This facet of bonus play is none too appealing.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.