In keeping with its plan to have Tournament expansion news trickle out as slowly as possible, the NCAA announced this afternoon that, thanks to their performance hosting the single Opening Round game since its 2001 inception, Dayton will host the first edition of the expanded version.
The University of Dayton Arena will host the inaugural "First Four," featuring two doubleheaders, one on Tuesday, March 15 and the second the following day.
Naturally, we have no idea if one doubleheader will feature the four automatic qualifiers and the other will feature the four at-large teams, or if one auto bid game and one at-large matchup will take place on each day. That will likely depend on how the bracket is constructed and where the winners will play their Thursday and Friday Second Round games.
Another question left unanswered is what happens if Dayton is on the bubble -- Will the Flyers be slotted up to prevent a home court First Round game? Or will the Committee relegate them to the NIT? Sure, the defending NIT champs look like a sure bet before the season starts, but they looked like one for a good stretch of last season as well.
Flyers or no Flyers, if you're a college hoops junkie with a limited travel budget, you could make far worse March plans than heading to a city that loves its basketball for a pair of doubleheaders in a city. You may want to act this season; however, as the NCAA left open the possibility of switching sites for 2012 and beyond.
After the jump, I have another long list of schedule links.
The 2010 Early Season Events page has been updated.
According to SB Nation's Backing the Pack, the Charleston Classic bracket is pretty much set, thanks to this announcement. NC State plays the Pirates in the quarterfinals, with the winner taking on either George Mason or Charlotte in the semis.
Rider and Sacred Heart will visit Amherst as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
The Bulldogs schedule includes information about a round-robin event at Auburn's new arena, which also features Campbell and Middle Tennessee.
In early season tournament news, the Charleston Classic field looks to FINALLY be complete. The George Mason basketball blog says that Coastal Carolina, last season's Big South tournament runner-up, and USC Upstate, an Atlantic Sun team in its final D-I transition year, are the last two teams, per Andy Katz of ESPN. Basically, other than Georgetown and Mason, it's a very Carolina-centric tournament this season. (H/T: Backing the Pack)
Dayton will represent the A-10 in Charleston in 2012, an appearance that will fall between trips to Disney World in 2011 and Maui 2013, according to the Dayton Daily News.
More schedule links will be posted as they roll out (and I have time). First games air on ESPNU on Monday, November 8, so we're now less than two months from the season. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.