Thousands of Wright-Patt airmen claim First Four tickets in Dayton

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Thousands of Wright-Patt airmen claim First Four tickets in Dayton

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Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base presented the colors before the start of the NCAA First Four at UD Arena. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The calls come in before the tickets arrive.

Thousands of airmen stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be among college basketball fans at the University of Dayton Arena Tuesday and Wednesday, courtesy of donated tickets via the Big Hoopla in Dayton, organizers say.

“I know we started getting calls for tickets even before we had the tickets in hand,” said Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover. “It’s a very popular program.”

Distribution of more than 3,500 tickets began last week through game day Tuesday, she said. Airmen receive two tickets to a game at the University of Dayton Arena.

But they’ll also be on the basketball court: Thirty-two Wright-Patt airmen will unfurl the American flag while another will sing the national anthem on both game days, she said.

The Big Hoopla, which distributes tickets paid for by local sponsors, has given out more than 23,000 tickets to Wright-Patterson airmen and area students since 2012, the organization says.

And the games are popular. First Four brought sell outs to the 13,435-seat arena in 2015 and 2016.

Tuesday’s line-up will pit Mount St. Mary’s (19-15) vs. New Orleans (20-11) at 6:40 p.m. while Kansas State (20-13) will try to out hustle Wake Forest (19-13) at 9:10 p.m.

In Wednesday’s match-ups, University of California-Davis (22-12) will play North Carolina Central (25-8) at 6:40 p.m. and in the final First Four game, Providence (20-12) will tips off against the University of Southern California (24-9) at 9:10 p.m..

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