By Vince Guerrieri
Posted On: Mar 6, 2023
In March, all eyes turn toward college basketball. Conference tournaments give way to the spectacle of the NCAA Tournament. Brackets are filled out and people watch or listen surreptitiously at work to follow along the action. And once again, the NCAA Tournament will make multiple stops in Ohio. Given its tradition as a staple of college basketball, Ohio is a natural stop. And this year, fans will have their choice of two different cities to watch the tournament: Dayton and Columbus.
Back in 2001, the tournament added a 65th team, which led to the creation of a play-in game on the Tuesday before the first weekend of the tournament. The play-in game was always played at the University of Dayton. Although there was some speculation that the tournament could expand to as many as 96 teams, in 2011, it was decided to add three more teams - bringing the field to its current 68 teams.
Since Dayton had done such a good job hosting the play-in games, it has become the permanent site for what's become known as the First Four. This year, Dayton hosts the two days of doubleheaders on March 14-15. And if the past is any indication, you'll probably see a team advance all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Or even make it to the Final Four after winning a first game in Dayton.
For second and third rounds, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, with The Ohio State University serving as the host. The arena is quickly becoming a regular venue for the NCAA. It'll host the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2027 and USA Volleyball's Open National Championship in 2024. And fans can look forward to next year, when the NCAA Women's Final Four is held Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on April 5 & 7, 2023.
For those going to a game (or watching from home), remember that venue assignments are handed out on Selection Sunday. So the team you plan to see will be the luck of the draw. But if you're a fan of college basketball, then it's worth checking it out.
March Madness may just be the best time of the year for a sports fan. From buzzer-beaters to underdog stories, every tournament has a unique and exciting twist.
For more sports in Ohio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.