Just because the men’s basketball team won’t be playing in the NCAA Tournament it doesn’t mean Dayton won’t get to experience the madness. For the eighth year in a row, UD Arena is hosting the First Four play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The action starts Tuesday night at 6:40 p.m with a matchup between two 16-seeds: Northeast Conference Champion Long Island-Brooklyn (18-16) and the Big South Conference Champion Radford (22-12). Long Island-Brooklyn is coached by former University of Massachusetts coach David Kellogg, who’s is in his first season coaching the Blackbirds.
At 9:10 p.m. the Flyer faithful will see some familiar faces as UD’s Atlantic-10 rival St. Bonaventure (25-7) take on the UCLA Bruins (21-11).
“This would be the first time we won’t get get booed,” said St. Bonaventure’s coach Mark Schmidt on coming to play in UD Arena.
“I know since we’re playing in an Atlantic-10 arena we’ll have a lot of fan support, not just from the Bonnies but from the Dayton people.”
The Bonnies will be looking to take advantage of a UCLA team traveling across the country for the game.
“We’re thinking we’ve got three days at home to practice and look at film and get ready,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford. “All of the sudden the selection show is over and we’re probably leaving in the morning.”
The games continue into Wednesday as two 16-seeds tip-off at 6:40 p.m.
Southwestern Athletic Conference Champions Texas Southern (15-19) will be playing against the winners of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, North Carolina Central (19-15).
NC Central is playing in its second-consecutive First Four after losing to UC Davis last year.
Closing things out is a battle between Syracuse (20-13) and Arizona State (20-11) at 9:10 p.m. Syracuse’s last tournament appearance was in 2016 when they knocked the Flyers out of contention in the first round before winning the entire region as a 10-seed.
The First Four games have an illustrious history, with one of the participants winning multiple games in the tournament since the field expanded to include the games in 2011. This includes Dayton in 2015 when they upset Providence after defeating Boise State in the First Four.
Last year, USC won in Dayton and then defeated Southern Methodist in the next round.
You can find tickets and more information at daytonhoopla.com.
Photo taken by Christian Cubacub/Director of Digital Media