NCAA Tournament returns to Viejas Arena

by Anthony Reclusado, Sports Editor

While the San Diego State basketball teams haven’t brought the excitement of the NCAA tournament to the Mesa for the last two years, the “Big Dance” is returning to the Mesa regardless.

For the fifth time since the buildings construction, Viejas Arena will host the first and second round of the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, announced by the NCAA on April 18.

SDSU will also host the first and second round of the tournament in 2018.

Aside from the 2018 championship, SDSU has hosted three previous NCAA Division I tournaments in 2001, 2006 and 2014.

The games in 2022 are scheduled to be played on March 18 and 20, which is a Friday-Sunday matchup that favors fvisiting fans, who have to miss less work than Thursday-Saturday games.

The other schools to host the first and second round of the 2022 tournament will be the University of Cincinnati, Furman University, Duquense University, Oregon State and three other off-site locations that will be hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Regionals, or the site of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, include Northwestern, University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania and a site in San Francisco, which will be hosted by the Pac-12. New Orleans will host the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

If the men’s basketball team does qualify for the tournament in 2018 or 2022, they will be placed in another regional, as NCAA rules don’t permit teams to play in their home arena. In 2014, this forced the Aztecs to play 1,000 miles north in Spokane, Washington.

The closest venue to San Diego for the first and second round in 2018 will be Boise State’s Taco Bell Arena and Oregon State’s Moda Center in 2022.

The West Regional will take place in Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 2018 and in 2022 it will be in the Golden State Warriors’ new Chase Center in San Francisco, which will open in the 2019-20 NBA season.

Newly minted head coach Brian Dutcher announced at his press conference on April 11 he was going to try his best to take SDSU where Steve Fisher didn’t: the Final Four. But first he has to get this program back to the NCAA tournament.