By: Daniel Massa Staff Writer
Edited by: Chris Bendel Sports Editor
The University of Dayton has been chosen to continue the tradition of opening the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The NCAA announced the full listings of host cities for the 2016-2018 editions of the tournament today at noon, and Dayton will once again be the host of the First Four, a two-night event of four games, pitting teams against each other vying for a spot in the final 64-team field. UD was already scheduled to hold the 2015 First Four March 17-18.
“We’re happy for the University, the region and its basketball fans that we’ll continue to be part of March Madness,”, University of Dayton vice president and director of athletics Tim Wabler said in a statement provided by the university’s athletic department. “This will provide the University and region an opportunity to showcase our attributes to a global audience.”
Since 2001, the NCAA Tournament has begun at UD Arena. Through 2010, Dayton hosted what became known as the “play-in game,” in which the two lowest-seeded teams in the tournament played each other for the right to face the No. 1 overall seed in the first round.
The First Four was adopted in 2011 with highlights from the event including appearances by President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron for a game in 2012, as well as last year’s edition setting record TV ratings.
According to several reports, including Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com, Sioux Falls, S.D., emerged as Dayton’s strongest challenger in the pursuit to host the event.
The culmination of the three-year extension will mark the 18th straight year UD Arena and the Dayton region will serve as hosts of the opening games of the NCAA Tournament.