Over the weekend, news broke that the NCAA decided against locking Dayton in as the sight of the First Four for the foreseeable future.
According to WDTN in Dayton, the school filed a proposal with the NCAA, but that proposal was shot down. The Flyers will host the event in 2014 and 2015, but they’ll have to bid on 2016-2018 along with everyone else.
Dayton has been an overwhelming success as the host of the First Four. The arena is packed and energetic, the games have been exciting, and President Obama even took in a game along with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
There aren’t many places that would embrace games between the four worst automatic bids and the four worst at-large bids, but Dayton does. It’s easy to wonder why the NCAA would ever mess with success like that, especially when you consider just how difficult it has been in the past to fill seats at neutral site NCAA tournament games.
But it’s also important to remember that Dayton isn’t the only small town with a healthy college hoops appetite.
Creighton was sixth in the nation in attendance, pulling in 17,155 fans per game this past season, despite playing in the Missouri Valley. The school is located in Omaha, NE, which has already proven capable of handling an NCAA postseason, as it hosts the College World Series. Isn’t that at least worth consideration?
What about Albuquerque, NM, where Lobo fans routinely pack more than 15,000 people into The Pit? Pound for pound, Utah may have the nation’s second-most college basketball-centric state to Kentucky. Would it be out of the question to consider Salt Lake City — or BYU, Utah or Utah State’s campus — as potential host?
Am I the only one that thinks it would be kind of cool to see an NCAA tournament game at The Palestra? What about turning the First Four into a barnstorming tour of the nation’s most famous college basketball arenas? Cameron Indoor, Phog Allen, Hinkle, Assembly Hall?
What if they abandon the idea of having the First Four in one site, instead playing each game in the same arena where the winner would take on their Round of 64 opponent?
Isn’t that at least worth discussing?
The best part?
Discussing those possibilities doesn’t mean that Dayton is out of the question, or out of any potential rotation.
I get the appeal of keeping the game in Dayton. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But putting it up for consideration isn’t the same thing as pulling the First Four from the Flyers.