HUNTINGTON - He joked about being sick to his stomach over his team's 2012-13 schedule, but Marshall basketball coach Tom Herrion said his third team is up for the challenge.
The Thundering Herd's full schedule was announced Tuesday, four weeks after Conference USA announced the league slate for all 12 teams. Certainly, the Herd won't cheat itself on strength of schedule.
Road games include those at Villanova and Kentucky, with games in Charleston against West Virginia and Cincinnati. National Invitation Tournament quarterfinalist Nevada heads the seven-game nonconference lineup at Cam Henderson Center.
Herd coaches and officials tried to assemble the schedule to maximize its Rating Percentage Index ranking, and improve its "eye test" with the NCAA selection committee. The Herd will play five teams from the 2012 NCAA tournament away from home - South Dakota State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, defending national champion Kentucky and Ohio.
"This group deserves the opportunity to play this tough a schedule," Herrion said. "I believe that."
After an Oct. 29 exhibition game against Bluefield (Va.) College, Marshall opens the season Nov. 9 against Longwood. Two days later, the Herd takes the court at Villanova.
That is part of the four-game 2K Sports Classic, with the last three games hosted by Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y. The Herd plays Division II University of District of Columbia on Nov. 16, South Dakota State on Nov. 17 and Hofstra on Nov. 18.
The Herd was working on a similar event it would host, but that fell through.
"We're playing UDC, a non-Division I game, that's scheduled through the event," Herrion said. "Hofstra will be vastly improved, three or four transfers, high-level kids who sat out last year. You probably don't know how good South Dakota State is. They have one of the best players in the nation, at any level, [Nate] Wolters."
When the Herd gets back from Hofstra, it won't have to travel more than 127 miles for almost eight weeks. Home games are against Nevada, Morehead State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Coppin State, Savannah State and Delaware State.