Day 2 of the "First Four" segment of the 2015 NCAA men's basketball tournament features another quartet of schools, hoping to take that next step into the field of 64 teams on the road to the "Final Four."
Wednesday night's first encounter in Dayton, Ohio, has Robert Morris of the Northeastern Conference (NEC) taking on the University of North Florida, from the Atlantic Sun Conference. These schools are 16 seeds in the South region. The winner gets top seed Duke Friday evening.
The Colonials have a 19-14 record and are led by junior guard Rodney Pryor, who averages just over 15 points per contest. Marcquise Reed and Lucky Jones follow closely, each scoring over 14 points per game.
As NCAA.com points out, North Florida hopes to uphold the Atlantic Sun's reputation for causing trouble for higher seeded teams in the tournament. Last year, it was Mercer knocking off Duke in the first round. And most will remember the run Florida Gulf Coast went on two years ago, reaching the Sweet 16 before bowing out.
Following their conference tournament championship win over South Carolina-Upstate back on March 8, this will be the Ospreys' first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. They became a Division 1 team in the 2005-06 season.
North Florida is led in scoring by sophomore guard Dallas Moore, who averages 15 points per game. Three other Ospreys – Beau Beech, Chris Davenport, and Jalen Nesbitt – also average double figures in scoring.
The Robert Morris – North Florida NCAA game can be seen Wednesday evening at 6:40 p.m. Eastern time on truTV.
The second contest of the night features an intriguing 11-seed matchup in the East region between the University of Dayton from the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10) and Boise State from the Mountain West Conference (MWC).
One reason for the intrigue – Dayton is the host school for these "First Four" games. The NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee does its best not to place schools on their home floor during the early rounds of the tournament.
But, in this case, the committee felt that Dayton only rated an 11th seed as an at-large selection and would therefore have to play their way in. As we reported yesterday, the play-in game(s) have taken place in Dayton since their inception back in 2001.
Also, there's a financial side for the NCAA to consider here, as Joe Cogliano of the Dayton Business Journal points out.
Putting Dayton in the First Four also means one less team and its fans will be bringing money to the region. Typically teams aren't allowed to play a home game in the tournament, but the NCAA made an exception for Dayton when it created the First Four.
The First Four, held in Dayton since its inception, pumps about $4.5 million into the regional economy. It will be in Dayton through at least 2018.
According to the University of Dayton sports information department, the Flyers did play an NCAA tournament game on their home floor in the past. They hosted Villanova as a No. 9-seed on March 15, 1985, but lost 51-49 in front of 13,260 fans.
Getting back to this year's team, Dayton compiled a 25-8 record and reached the A-10 tournament championship game. The Flyers are led in scoring by senior guard Jordan Sibert, who averages 16 points per game.
Dayton has a long history of participating in the NCAA tournament, going back to 1952. This will be the school's 16th tourney appearance.
This will be the Broncos' seventh trip to the NCAA tournament, dating back to 1976, and second in the last three years. Senior guard Derrick Marks leads Boise State in scoring, at just over 19 points per contest.
The winner of this game will play sixth seed Providence Friday night in Columbus, Ohio. You can watch Dayton vs. Boise State at 9:10 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, also on truTV.