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Knights, Herd, Renew Rivalry

UCF and Marshall renew their heated rivalry tonight in West Virginia, where the Thundering Herd have held serve for four straight seasons.

Since UCF and USF have never been in the same conference, UCF has lacked a natural conference rival. If anything, Marshall University has served in that de facto role since the two schools were Mid American Conference foes before both made the leap to Conference USA during the last game of conference realignment chairs.

The rivalry between the two schools has several events in both football and basketball. On the football side, Marshall had the early advantage as Bob Pruett bested Mike Kruczek, but that changed when UCF defeated Marshall 23-13 to end a 17 game losing streak that included the imperfect season of 2004 when the Knights went 0-11. Since that victory in 2005, UCF football has won every time the two schools have faced off on the gridiron, mostly in dominating fashion.

The same cannot be said on the basketball court. The Knights were football-only members of the MAC so these two schools did not start regular basketball play until the 2005 season. Marshall has a 7-5 edge in the season series with each team winning the home game last season. To say the home game in Huntington was more spirited would be an understatement since head coach Donnie Jones was making his first trip back to Marshall since leaving the school to join UCF after coaching the Thundering Herd from 2007 to 2010.

Booooo Donnie Jones (via NuErthDwlr)

Including last season's win, Marshall has won the last four straight games when they have hosted the Knights including the triple-overtime thriller when the two schools played in 2010. The UCF Sports Information Department gives something for fans to watch: the Knights are undefeated when they enter halftime with a lead. That said, the Knights were down 16 at the half to Marshall in this game last season.

Marshall is led in scoring by super sophomore DeAndre Kane and senionr guard Damier Pitts. Kane is coming off a 21 point performance at Birmingham in helping Marshall defeat UAB. Pitts was a major factor in last year's game scoring 25 of Marshall's 83 points in their 14 point victory over UCF.

Both schools sit undefeated a top Conference USA along with Memphis. Marshall owns the RPI advantage 40 to 61 , the strength of schedule advantage 56 to 187, and college hoops guru Ken Pomeroy currently ranks Marshall 59th while ranking UCF 108th. For those reasons, and the history of this match-up in West Virginia, the Thundering Herd are 7.5 point favorites this evening.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.