Excitement builds in Dayton as teams arrive ahead of the First Four
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) — Eight teams arrived in Dayton throughout the day Monday ahead of the First Four to Hollywood-style red carpet treatment.
“This is terrific,” St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said at the team hotel. “Dayton goes out of their way to make this a special event.”
Teams are welcomed to their hotels to cheers from volunteers and staff, cookies and, as has become tradition just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, the bagpipers.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Schmidt said. "Usually when we come to Dayton they boo us.”
“We want to make every team feel as if they’re on their way to the final four and that that starts right here in Dayton,” Dayton CVB President & CEO Jacquie Powell said.
Radford University is making its first appearance in the First Four, but the team has close ties to Ohio. Redshirt freshman Carlik Jones hails from Aiken High School in Cincinnati. Jones hit the game-winning shot in Radford’s conference championship game to punch their ticket.
“ I saw our name pop up and then under it it said Dayton,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m going home.’”
Radford Head Coach Mike Jones was an assistant under Shaka Smart for VCU when the Rams went from First Four to Final Four in 2011.
“The formula works,” Jones said. “The city does a great job, the hotels do a great job, the arena, everybody is locked in to making this a great experience. When it’s a great experience like this, why change it?”
The First Four tips off Tuesday night at UD Arena.
- 6:40 p.m. (16) LIU Brooklyn vs. (16) Radford
- 9:10 p.m. (11) UCLA vs. (11) St. Bonaventure
- 6:40 p.m. (16) Texas Southern vs. (16) North Carolina Central
- 9:10 p.m. (11) Syracuse vs. (11) Arizona State