Marshall returns to NCAA Tournament for first time since 1987

For the first time since 1987, the Marshall Thundering Herd is in the NCAA Tournament. (Marshall University/Sabrena Hirst)

The NCAA Tournament is under way and Marshall supporters are counting down the hours until their team gets a turn to step onto the court and make history.

When Marshall beat Davidson to advance to the 1987 NCAA Tournament, Thundering Herd fans could have hardly imagined it would be three decades until the boys in kelly green went dancing again.

31 years to be exact. 31 years of disappointments. 31 years of heartbreaks. 31 years of unfulfilled dreams.

But then the unlikeliest glimmer of hope came along, clad in a sports jacket and T-shirt.

Fueled by the chance to resurrect a once proud basketball program Dan D'Antoni came home to his alma mater with a vision that Herd fans had seen before.

The coach soon got plenty of help, however, from West Virginia kids eager to rid Marshall of its haunting history of failure.

It didn't take long to awake a sleepy fan base with eye-opening plays from players that called the Mountain State home, and others carving a new future in America.

After a gut-wrenching loss last year in the Conference USA championship game, the Thundering Herd fought for a chance of redemption, a shot at stardom not seen in Huntington since Ronald Reagan was president.

And one team stood in its way, Western Kentucky, a school that has inflicted so much pain on Marshall University.

But deep in the heart of Texas, the Thundering Herd once again roamed across the plains of the southwest with breath-taking moments of brilliance, and a heavy dose of heartache.

But then in the blink of an eye, it happened. Marshall wrapped up a trip the NCAA Tournament.

Years of near misses and close calls were erased with tears of joy and the raw emotion of a magical run for glory.

For the first time in 31 years, Marshall will go dancing again and this homegrown coach with his swashbuckling group of players aren't ready for the music to stop.

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