You -- surely a serious college basketball fan, since you happen to be reading a bracketology blog in the middle of November -- were a bit concerned that the NCAA had no venues lined up for the Men's Division I Basketball Tournament beyond this season, much like I was.
This morning, our wait, shared by bid cities from coast-to-coast, ended as the NCAA named the hosts for the preliminary rounds for 2014 and 2015, years which will see North Texas and Indianapolis host the Final Four. Obviously, the biggest nugget in the NCAA's announcement is the return of the NIT's home arena, Madison Square Garden, to the big tournament's rotation, as Manhattan will host the East Regional in 2014, its first NCAA Championship action since 1961.
Glancing at the list of sites, the Empire State, Ohio, and California were the biggest winners, with Florida and North Carolina not far behind. However, host cities and institutions that have recently hosted Tournament action claimed the overwhelming majority of slots, with just a couple of new arenas entering the rotation, along with a long forgotten one. The three cities I specifically mentioned as future hosts on the 2013 Tournament Sites page -- Cincinnati, Des Moines, and Wichita -- were all left out. Here's a more comprehensive look at the 2014 and 2015 lineups.
2014 and 2015 First Four
Dayton, Ohio; University of Dayton Arena; Dayton Flyers, host
March 18 and 19, 2014 and March 17 and 18, 2015
Dayton has hosted the Opening Round/First Four since its introduction in 2001 and all but owns the event now. It certainly seems like the only hope any city has of breaking through in the future is (gulp) expansion of the field.
2014 First Weekend
Thursday, March 20 and Saturday, March 22
Buffalo, N.Y.; First Niagara Center; Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, host
This will be the fifth time Buffalo has hosted since 2000, though the 2014 date broke the city's every three year cycle (2004, 2007, 2010).
Milwaukee, Wis.; Bradley Center; Marquette Golden Eagles, host
Like Buffalo, Milwaukee last hosted in 2010. Both also welcomed the Tournament six years earlier.
Orlando, Fla.; Amway Arena; Stetson Hatters, host
The NCAA Tournament returns to Florida after a three-year break (Tampa in 2011). Orlando last hosted in 2004 at the old "Orena."
Spokane, Wash.; Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena; Washington State Cougars, host
Thanks to the general lack of arenas meeting NCAA standards in the West Region, Spokane is a regular host despite having a building that barely has the minimum 12,000 seats. The Veterans Memorial Arena coincidentally often sees action in the same seasons as Buffalo and Milwaukee (2010, 2007, 2003 previously).
Friday, March 21 and Sunday, March 23
Raleigh, N.C.; PNC Arena; N.C. State Wolfpack, host
Since 2000, the NCAA Tournament has missed the state of North Carolina in just three seasons: 2002, 2003, and 2013. Raleigh has hosted twice in that time, in 2004 and 2008. The arena is the same, but the name has changed thanks to a bank merger.
San Antonio, Tex.; AT&T Center; Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, host
The Alamodome has seen four regionals and two Final Fours in this century (though it's probably out of the National Championship rotation now); however, will be the first time for the city's arena to host NCAA action.
San Diego, Calif.; Viejas Arena; San Diego State Aztecs, host
The Tournament returns to the campus of San Diego State for the first time since 2006. By the way. isn't it nice to not have both Western sites on the same day? Good to see the new TV deal finally came through on that front.
St. Louis, Mo.; Scottrade Center; Missouri Valley Conference, host
This will be St. Louis' seventh time hosting NCAA games since 2000, which is simply staggering when you think about how competitive the bid process is. However, all of those games took place at the Edward Jones Dome. The last time the city's arena was the venue, it was known as the Kiel Center, all the way back in 1998.
Thursday, March 27 and Saturday, March 29
West: Anaheim, Calif.; Honda Center; Big West Conference, host
Anaheim last hosted the West Regional in 2011, its third time since 2001. Plus, the city welcomed first weekend action in 2008.
South: Memphis, Tenn.; FedEx Forum; Memphis Tigers, host
In recent seasons, the West and East Regionals have filled the Thursday/Saturday slots, but that practice ends in 2014, again thanks to the revised TV contract, which is no longer tied to CBS's scheduling requirements. The FedEx Forum was the site of the 2009 South Regional, while the Pyramid hosted first weekend action in 2001.
Friday, March 28 and Sunday, March 30
Midwest: Indianapolis, Ind.; Lucas Oil Stadium; Horizon League, host
Now that Butler is in the Atlantic 10, the school is no longer the perennial co-host for games in the NCAA's headquarters city. This will be the second year in a row Indianapolis has welcomed the Midwest Regional, and the city hosts the Final Four in 2015.
East: New York City, N.Y.; Madison Square Garden; St. John's Red Storm and Big East Conference, co-hosts
Pretty much everyone thought this announcement would come for 2013, but we'll all have to wait an additional season to see tournament games at Madison Square Garden. It's too bad a Final Four here is all but an impossibility.
2014 Final Four
Saturday, April 5 and Monday, April 7
Arlington, Tex.; Cowboys Stadium; Big 12 Conference, host
The Dallas-Fort Worth area last hosted the Final Four in 1986, when Louisville claimed the title at Reunion Arena.
2015 First Weekend
Thursday, March 19 and Saturday, March 21
Jacksonville, Fla.; Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena; Jacksonville Dolphins, host
Jacksonville had racked up a nice history of hosting during Winter Olympic years (2006 and 2010) up until this announcement.
Louisville, Ky.; KFC Yum! Center; Louisville Cardinals, host
Louisville is one of five 2012 host cities to earn 2015 rights. Again, you'll be able to check out action here and in Columbus in the same weekend if you're adventurous, though a Nashville option will be noticeably lacking this time around.
Pittsburgh, Pa.; Consol Energy Center; Duquesne Dukes, host
Pittsburgh is another 2012 host getting a quick return, and its proximity to Columbus makes it another option for those looking to double up on first weekend action.
Portland, Ore.; Rose Garden; Oregon Ducks, host
Portland seems to be on the every three year plan (2009, 2012) now that Oregon got rid of the limited sports betting it once had.
Friday, March 20 and Sunday, March 22
Charlotte, N.C.; Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte 49ers, host
After taking a break in 2013, the NCAA Tournament visits North Carolina for the second straight year. In other words, normal service has resumed. Charlotte has hosted three previous times this century, with first weekend action taking center stage in 2005 and 2011.
Columbus, Ohio; Nationwide Arena; Ohio State Buckeyes, host
Ohio's capital is yet another 2012 host to get NCAA games back in short order -- and for the fourth time since the year 2000.
Omaha, Neb.; Century Link Center; Creighton Bluejays, host
Much like Jacksonville used to have the lockdown on hosting duties during Winter Olympic years, the building that's hosted the last two U.S. Olympic Trials meets for swimming had similar luck in Summer Games years (2008 and 2012). Both of those patterns end in 2015.
Seattle, Wash.; KeyArena; Washington Huskies, host
Just when you thought Seattle wouldn't get NCAA games until they got a new arena, the building in the shadow of the Space Needle got picked -- 11 years after it last hosted.
Thursday, March 26 and Saturday, March 28
Midwest: Cleveland, Ohio; Quicken Loans Arena; Mid-American Conference, host
The host of first weekend action in 2000, 2005, and 2011 makes the next step up for 2015.
West: Los Angeles, Calif., Staples Center; Pepperdine Waves, host
The NCAA must be quite confident in Pepperdine's athletic department and the Staples Center staff, considering that the partnership will put on its first NCAA Tournament games this season.
Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29
South: Houston, Tex.; Reliant Stadium; Houston Cougars and Rice Owls, co-hosts
As is traditional, the host of the next Final Four hosts a regional as a dry run. Of course, this will be the third time Reliant Stadium has seen second weekend games since 2008 (2010).
East: Syracuse, N.Y.; Carrier Dome; Syracuse Orange, host
This will be fifth time for Central New York to welcome the East Regional since the year 2000.
2015 Final Four
Now we just have to wait for the host cities for 2016.