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Dayton gets ‘First Four’ -- Flyers eye home game

Dayton closed out an up-and-down 2009-10 season with an NIT championship. Now, with seven players gone from that 25-12 team, the Flyers are trying to return to the Big Dance and could do it if guys like Chris Wright and Chris Johnson deliver. They’ll be among the bubble teams.

Pretty sure I know where they’d like to play if they do squeeze in. At home.

The NCAA announced the city of Dayton would continue to host its NCAA tournament opening-round games in 2011 on March 15 and 16.

But who would want to be part of that “First Four?” Play an extra game against an NCAA tourney team? Pretty sure Brian Gregory’s squad would take it - especially since the NCAA said it would slot the Flyers there, if needed. (If that happens, the opposing team should file an automatic protest.)

Perhaps since the NCAA chose not to play those first games at historical venues, and they couldn’t be sure those four teams’ fans would travel, eyeing the Flyers as one of those four teams is a good way to ensure at least one of those nights is a sellout.

Or it could just be that they couldn’t find four suitable venues.

“We explored different options, including playing the first-round games at multiple sites as well as the possibility of playing all games on one day, but we came to the conclusion that Dayton is the best location to host all four games for the 2011 tournament,” said Gene Smith, Ohio State athletic director and the new chair of the D-I men’s hoops committee. “Moving forward, we will conduct a thorough evaluation, as we do with all rounds of the championship, with the student-athlete experience being our top priority.”

Ah, excellent. Next year, the student-athlete experience will be the top priority. Games in Miami? New Orleans? South Padre?

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.