It’s never too early to think about the NCAA Tournament, even if that means looking ahead a year or two (or three). That’s why when the NCAA announced the hosting sites for the 1st/2nd rounds as well as the regionals for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tourneys, Twitter took full notice.
There was a lot of info and an official announcement that the NCAA would drop the whole First Four = First Round farce. The first and second rounds will go back to being called that in 2016. Why wait a year, who knows? Maybe they already printed out materials for this season’s tourney and wanted to save on printing costs. As this is a Marquette-centric page, we’ll stick to the announcements that might end up having a pronounced effect on future tournament runs.
First up, the hosts for 2016:
It’s not prudent or objective to speculate about a team’s chances a full season ahead when we’re only one game into this season, but frankly, it’s going to be a long one, and a little light at the end of the tunnel never hurt anyone. A loaded recruiting class, headlined by top-10 prospect Henry Ellenson, will join forces with what should be a seasoned squad in 2015-16, only losing two players from the current team. Should the freshman make an impact and the vets continue their maturation, this could be a dream scenario for Marquette.
Should Marquette do well enough to get a top 2/3 seed, it would most likely be sent to St. Louis or Des Moines. While not a stone’s throw away, it would be close enough to have a decent contingent of fans, as witnessed in 2012 (Louisville) and 2013 (Lexington). Escape those two rounds and the Golden Eagles could find themselves playing in the United Center, 90 minutes away from home and the epicenter of the non-Wisconsin based fans. I was in Louisville in 2012 when Kentucky played there, and you can’t underestimate the impact a fervent crowd can make. They piled onto the Murray State bandwagon that year and truly made it a road game for Buzz and co. The team on it’s own was good enough to win the title if they played on Jupiter, but the Tournament is quite a crapshoot, and any advantage brings you that much closer to a Final Four.
Here are the hosts for 2017:
Milwaukee was tabbed to host the opening rounds yet again, a positive for fans of good basketball and the Badgers, but not quite as much for Marquette backers. The announcement made noted that the BMO Harris Bradley Center would be the venue, meaning that unless Marquette doesn’t host and moved most of its home games to the Al (like Villanova does when Philly gets hosting privileges at the Wells Fargo Arena) it could not take play in this site.
Again, looking this far into the future is about as useful as looking into weather predictions a month from today. There are too many variables that will change and throw a wrench into any plans. It’s not guaranteed that MU will make the tournament either of those years, let alone have a seed high enough to benefit from it.
But next time you daydream about what could be, as the opponent puts in yet another put-back rebound, keep this info in the back of your head.