Dayton awarded ‘First Four’ through 2013

By Doug Harris | Monday, June 27, 2011, 10:21 AM

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has started in Dayton for the last 11 years, and March Madness will begin here again for at least the next two seasons.

The NCAA has awarded the University of Dayton the “First Four” tourney games through 2013. Crowds in excess of 10,000 turned out for both double-headers for the inaugural First Four last season.

The games pit the lowest four seeded teams against each other, while the last four at-large selections also face each other. Last season, VCU began its improbable run to the Final Four with a win over Southern Cal in one of the games.

UD Arena also will host second- and third-round games (known as the first and second rounds before the field was expanded to 68 teams) in ’13, keeping Dayton in the NCAA spotlight throughout the week.

“We’re ecstatic,” UD Athletic Director Tim Wabler said. “We first wanted to have an opportunity to get another crack at it, and now having it two years, we can really cement this in as a Dayton, Ohio, event.”

Gene Smith, director of athletics at Ohio State and chair of the Division I men’s basketball committee last season, said in a statement: “Dayton has hosted 87 tournament games over the last 41 years, including the start of each championship since 2001, and the feedback from participating schools, the community’s enthusiasm and the commitment demonstrated by the University of Dayton staff make Dayton an ideal host for the First Four.

“Last year, the committee explored several options when determining how the First Four should look and where it would be played. We decided Dayton would be best to host the inaugural event and now we believe we should start the championship in Dayton through the championship’s 75th anniversary in 2013. We’ll continue to evaluate the First Four and explore how we can work with our hosts in Dayton to make it even better.”