By David Worlock
The first multi-team expansion of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in more than 25 years will be showcased in a familiar host city.
The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced today that the University of Dayton will host the 2011 NCAA First Four, the four first-round games of next year’s championship. Two games will feature teams battling to advance as two of the tournament’s No. 16 seeds, while the other two games will pit the last four at-large teams selected to the field. The 68-team field will be announced on Selection Sunday, March 13, with first-round games taking place Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15-16.
The first four games will be nationally televised in primetime on Turner Broadcasting’s truTV, as part of the NCAA’s 14-year broadcast agreement with Turner and CBS.
Tickets will be available beginning October 1 at www.ncaa.com/mbbtickets and are priced at $80 and $100.
The first-round winners will advance to second- and third-round sites, which include Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Tulsa and Washington D.C. Regional hosts are Anaheim, New Orleans, Newark and San Antonio, and the 73rd national champion will be crowned at the Men’s Final Four in Houston April 2 and 4. Tickets for the second- and third-round sites, as well as the regionals, are on sale now.
“Dayton hosted the opening round game for the past 10 years and consistently attracted extraordinary crowds, including over 11,000 in 2009,” said Gene Smith, director of athletics at The Ohio State University and chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee for the 2010-11 season. “The enthusiasm the UD staff and the local fans demonstrated for hosting that game did not go unnoticed, so it makes sense to us to conduct the inaugural First Four in Dayton.
“We explored different options, including playing the first-round games at multiple sites as well as the possibility of playing all games on one day, but we came to the conclusion that Dayton is the best location to host all four games for the 2011 tournament. Moving forward, we will conduct a thorough evaluation, as we do with all rounds of the championship, with the student-athlete experience being our top priority.”
All 345 Division I teams, including the 334 eligible for the 2011 championship, start preparation for the 2010-11 season with the first official practice on October 15. The first official day of competition is November 12.