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First Four host site Dayton set to potentially receive home game

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In an effort to make it a fair contest, men’s teams can’t play on their home court during the NCAA tournament.

At least, that’s the goal. The Dayton Flyers could upset that plan.

Every March, the University of Dayton hosts the NCAA’s First Four, the four games over two days that open the annual 68-team extravaganza.

Heading into the weekend, the Flyers are 19-9 and are 7-6 in the competitive Atlantic 10.

What would happen, when the selection committee starts seeding teams in 2 1/2 weeks, if the Flyers fell into that part of the bracket? Home game?

“We don’t have a backup facility that we would go to,” said NCAA selection committee chair Ron Wellman. “So that would be the case.”

The other options are not workable. The selection committee won’t hold it against Dayton if it is in position for an at-large bid. Also, it wouldn’t be fair to bump the Flyers into the second-round solely to avoid the home-court problem.

Dayton has been home to the First Four every year since it began in 2011. Before that, it hosted the one play-in game, which the NCAA called the Opening Round, from 2001 to 2010.

Even if the Flyers made it in, Dayton athletic director Tim Wabler figures it wouldn’t be a huge home-court advantage.

“There’s over 70 companies and organizations that have already bought about 3,000 tickets, primarily through the local organizing committee’s efforts,” Wabler said. “Even though our season-ticket holders do a nice job in supporting the First Four, it’s really much more of a local event. It would be a different crowd than what we would typically see at our games.”

Dayton coach Archie Miller can just imagine what the opposing team might say.

“I do think it would be overblown, a feeling of, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to play Dayton in Dayton!”’ he said.

But all Miller cares about is getting into the bracket announced on March 16.

“If they said our name, I’d play in Russia,” he said. “It wouldn’t matter to me.”

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