Written by Justin Prince. 

The 31-year NCAA Tournament drought is over for the Marshall men’s basketball team and so is the Herd’s destination and opponent for the round of 64.

The selection committee seeded the Thundering Herd 13th in the East region and has matched the Herd up with Wichita State, a fourth seed from the American Conference, in San Diego on Friday at 1:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live on TNT.

The Shockers (25-7) come into the tournament after losing in the American Conference semifinals to the Houston Cougars 77-74 but have been one of the most consistent teams in the country winning at least 25 games each of the last nine seasons.

A man familiar to many Herd fans also coaches Wichita State, Greg Marshall, who was an assistant in Huntington from 1996-1998.

The Thundering Herd was able to advance to the tournament for the first time since 1987 after defeating Western Kentucky 67-66 in the Conference USA Tournament title game.

The Hilltoppers had beaten Marshall twice in the regular season but coach Dan D’Antoni’s team was able to enact revenge by playing aggressive defense and getting big shots from star point guard Jon Elmore.

Elmore who finished as the CUSA tourney MVP scored 27 points in the championship game including 20 in the game’s second half making 7-13 from behind the arc.

“In the first half I was kind of lost to be honest,” Elmore said. “I just wasn’t very explosive and was having trouble finding my game but my coaches and my teammates kept faith in me and in the second half I was able to get going and get in a rhythm.”

The Herd is 0-5 all time in NCAA tournament games, but if Marshall manages to get past Wichita State it could have in state rival West Virginia waiting for them in the round of 32. The Mountaineers are seeded fifth and face off against 12th seeded Murray State on Friday in San Diego as well.

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