They used to be called ‘play-in’ games because that is exactly what they are, they are games that teams play to get into the tournament. But, in order to garner more excitement the NCAA changed them to the First Four Games to be played in Dayton Ohio, so that there was neutral territory for the teams on the bubble. Dayton embraced their role in the tournament packing the Flyers Arena each year to cheer on the teams competing to make it to the big show.
Everything was all sunshine and roses until Dayton found themselves on the bubble and thus got “home court” advantage for the game. Now there’s a problem with playing the First Four Games in Dayton Ohio, no longer is it an even playing field for both teams. So now the NCAA will be looking for different places to play these games so that they can avoid another incident like last night.
In order to find a place that gives no team an unfair advantage, the NCAA would have to find a central location that no college basketball team has played in. That means that they would have to use an NBA arena, which has 25,000 seats and try to garner enough interest to fill all those seats. The last thing the NCAA wants to have a half empty arena during these games, so why not let Dayton continue to host the games?
Dayton, Ohio has embraced their role in these games that the arena was even packed on Tuesday night when Dayton wasn’t playing. Sure, they showed up in droves to cheer on their own team, but they also showed up for the BYU game the night before because they know how important these games are to the tournament. It gives students and members of that community, who love college basketball and embrace college basketball, access to watch playoff games.
It’s understandable that the NCAA would not want to give a team an unfair advantage with playing on their home court, but the referees last night made sure that the game was fair. They didn’t hesitate to call fouls on Dayton throughout the first half and made sure in the second half at the end of the game to see who touched the ball last before it went out. The game was no different from the Robert Morris game before or the games the night before.
It’s also understandable that the NCAA would want to give other places a chance to host the First Four Games, but will those places embrace those games like Dayton has? Probably not. It’s also not fair to take the games away from the community of Dayton just on the off chance that once every five or ten years Dayton finds themselves on the bubble again.