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NCAA names tourney hotel lineup

College basketball fans are intimately familiar with the intricate process of seeding the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Which teams will be ranked at each level and where they will be sent are the topics of frenzied discussions in sports bars and Internet chat rooms almost as soon as the basketball season begins. Bracketologists’ predictions will be proven right or wrong on Sunday, when the NCAA announces the 65-team tournament lineup.

What fans probably don’t know is that the NCAA takes as much care seeding the hotels those teams and media will stay in for the tournament, which starts Thursday.

Not just any old hotel will do. No sir.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of these student athletes, so we need to make sure they are staying in quality properties,” said Jeanne Boyd with the NCAA.

Five local hotels made the team cut – the Doubletree Hotel Spokane-City Center, Davenport Hotel, Davenport Tower, Red Lion River Inn and Mirabeau Park Hotel, said Suzanne Boyce with the Spokane Regional Sports Commission.

The highest-ranked team gets the best hotel.

Media will stay in the Red Lion Hotel at the Park.

The NCAA is keeping its rankings of those hotels as big a secret as its closed-door team selection and seeding process.

Hotels must have plenty of rooms, a restaurant and meeting space. And they must have that certain something that makes teams feel they are part of the Big Dance. The NCAA also likes the hotels to be within a similar distance to the playing arena if possible, said Boyd.

“When you put the bid in, you have to have at least talked to your hotels and made sure they have room blocks available,” said John David Wicker, tournament manager for host school Washington State University.

Then the NCAA takes over selection.

“They came in November for a site visit and picked the hotels and the seeds that will go into the hotels,” said Wicker.

The NCAA is very detailed about what is required, said Spokane Regional Sports Commission Executive Director Eric Sawyer.

“They give you a manual that is 3 inches thick,” Sawyer said.

Attentive fans may notice that eight teams are coming, and there are only five hotels chosen in Spokane.

It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s not uncommon, said Boyd.

“Coaches said they would rather have two teams at one property than go from one extreme in quality to another,” she said.

Several hotels initially approached about the tournament didn’t make the final cut.

No one involved in the process wanted to identify them.

Two teams will stay at the Doubletree. The other multiple-team hotels weren’t revealed.

Boyd said teams are housed in the same place only if they won’t meet each other on the court in Spokane and ideally are kept in different parts of the hotel.

Doubletree General Manager Dean Feldmeier said he’s eager to find out which teams will come to his hotel.

“We’ll know soon,” he said. “It’s like Christmas morning.”