More Fireworks in the Nation’s Capital? NCAA Selects Washington, D.C. as Last 2013 Regional HostPosted by EJacoby on May 17th, 2012
The 2013 NCAA Tournament will be a milestone, marking the 75th all-time ‘Big Dance’ since Oregon won the first one in 1939. A lot has changed over the years, and it’s much harder to win the Tournament in its current 68-team format than it was for the Ducks in a total field of just eight schools then. In “a concerted effort to include cities with a rich history to help mark the milestone,” according to the new VP of NCAA Championships, Mark Lewis, the committee selected Washington, D.C. as the final host of the 2013 Regionals. The nation’s capital joins previously selected Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Arlington, Texas, as the four regional locations, with Atlanta hosting next year’s Final Four. The Verizon Center in DC has played host to several classic tournament games in recent history, and the NCAA hopes to recreate that magic next year.
“In the end, we think celebrating 75 years of one of the country’s favorite sporting events in our nation’s capital and a great basketball city is fitting,” said Lewis, whose committee’s decision came down to Syracuse, Brooklyn, Madison Square Garden (Manhattan), and the District of Columbia. It would have seemed fitting for MSG, the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” to have won on this criteria of rich history, but the arena faced scheduling conflicts with its priority tenants, the Knicks (NBA) and Rangers (NHL). The Verizon Center, while not nearly as historic a venue, is a more frequently-used arena for college games, serving as the primary home court for Georgetown and hosting a number of other games such as the BB&T Classic. The Hoyas will be the official host of this site and as such will be unable to play in that venue during next season’s Tourney.
Another perk of the Verizon Center is that it has showcased some classic NCAA Tournament games, two in particular from the past six years. In 2011, it hosted the wild finish between Butler and Pittsburgh which eliminated the #1-seed Panthers and opened the door for Brad Stevens’ team to reach the second of back-to-back National Title game appearances. But even crazier was the 2006 East Regional Final between Connecticut and George Mason, and we all remember what happened in that game. The locally-supported Patriots pulled off the historic upset in overtime, advancing to the Final Four as a #11-seed from the Colonial Athletic Association. Few people thought Jim Larranaga’s team stood a chance to win one game in the NCAA Tournament that season, let alone knock off the #1-seeded (and favorite) Huskies to reach the Final Four.
The only questionable part of this year’s regional final selections is the choice of Arlington, Texas, as one of the four hosts — far from a “city with a rich history” of basketball tradition, Arlington seems to be the big money draw of the bunch. That regional will be played in Cowboys Stadium and its 80,000-plus capacity venue, which is likely to draw the biggest crowd and generate the greatest revenue. This is not to say Texas doesn’t produce strong basketball or Arlington can’t play a great host, but the NCAA never fails to factor in dollar signs no matter the situation. Fans seeking to attend these slices of future NCAA history at any of the regional locations are looking at a window of March 28-31 next year, also known as the greatest time of year.