Dayton begins NCAA tourney at home
DAYTON (AP) — The NCAA Tournament has started in Dayton since 2001 with play-in games and the First Four. This time, it’ll have a true home team.
The Flyers were assigned to the First Four on their home floor Thursday night, facing Boise State. The NCAA Tournament committee decided that’s where Dayton belonged.
The Flyers were the last team picked for the field of 68 by the selection committee, meaning it was automatically slotted for a game at the University of Dayton Arena.
“We had decided that if Dayton was an at-large, we would move that way without prejudice,” said Scott Barnes, head of the committee. “It is obviously something folks will talk about.”
Teams aren’t allowed to play on their home court during the tournament, except in the First Four that’s held in Dayton every year.
The Flyers (25-8) were surprised to be relegated to it after they finished second in the Atlantic 10 during the regular season and lost in the conference tournament’s title game to VCU 71-65.
The Flyers went 16-0 at home this season and have won their last 21 games at UD Arena, tied for the seventh-longest active winning streak in Division I.
Boise State (25-8) lost to Wyoming 71-66 in overtime in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament. The winner of the First Four game on Wednesday night will go to Columbus, Ohio to play Providence on Friday.
It’s the second year in a row that a local team played in Dayton. Xavier lost to North Carolina State 74-59 in the First Four last year, with Dayton fans in the crowd cheering against the rival Musketeers.
Dayton reached the Elite Eight last year by beating Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford. It’ll be the Flyers’ 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
UD Arena has been home to the First Four every year since it began in 2011. Before that, it hosted the tournament’s play-in game — called the Opening Round — from 2001 to 2010.
Dayton also played an NCAA Tournament game on its home floor in 1985, before the NCAA changed its rules. It didn’t help Dayton much that time, as Villanova pulled out a 51-49 win on its way to the national championship.