First Four: 8 things to know about the 8 teams coming to Dayton

Only one of the eight teams in the First Four has been in the NCAA Tournament’s tip-off event before, but there is a coach who is very familiar with the Miami Valley.

Here is what you need to know about the teams of the 2024 First Four before it begins Tuesday night at UD Arena:

1. Grambling State will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Southwest Athletic Conference for the first time.

The 20-14 Tigers are the regular season champs of the SWAC as well, making them the only one of the four 16 seeds who were actually expected to win their conference tournament.

They have won the SWAC regular season title two years in a row behind two-time league coach of the year Donte Jackson, a 2003 graduate of Central State who was an all-conference player for the Marauders and their head coach from 2010-14.

He is a two-time SWAC Coach of the Year while junior guard Kintavious Dozier is the SWAC Player of the Year after averaging 13.1 points per game.

2. Montana State is just 17-17 and finished fifth in the Big Sky, but winning that tournament has the Bobcats in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time and third year in a row.

They are looking for their first win in the Big Dance but head to Dayton having won four in a row.

Senior guard Robert Ford III shot 59 percent during the Big Sky Tournament and averaged 22.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He was named the league’s defensive player of the year and first-team all-conference.

3. Wagner (16-15) finished sixth in the Northeast Conference with a 7-9 league record but won the league tournament to earn its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003.

The Seahawks are No. 293 at, the lowest ranking in the field of 68, but have a more respectable defensive rating of 171.

Melvin Council Jr., a 6-4 guard from Rochester, N.Y., leads Wagner in scoring at 14.6 points per game.

The Seahawks last made the tournament in 2003 when they were a 15 seed and lost in the first round to Pittsburgh.

4. Howard was the No. 4 seed in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament but won it for the second time in three years.

In his seventh season of college basketball, Ohio State transfer Seth Towns is one of three players who earned all-conference accolades. The 6-9 Columbus native averages 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

The Bison (18-16) are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and looking for their first win.

5. Boise State is in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

That is a record streak for the Broncos, who tied for second in a very competitive Mountain West this season, but BSU is still looking for its first win in the event.

They lost in the round of 64 the last two seasons and the First Four in 2013 and ‘15 (when they had the misfortune of drawing the UD Flyers on their home floor).

BSU also made the tournament in 1976, ‘88, ‘93, ‘94 and 2008.

All-Mountain West forward Tyson Degenhart leads the Broncos in scoring at 17.0 points per game and is second in rebounds (6.2) while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor.

The Broncos are No. 39 in KenPom’s efficiency rankings with the No. 52 offense and 29 defense.

6. Colorado (24-10) squeaked into the field of 68 after losing in the last Pac-12 Tournament Final to Oregon on Saturday night.

The Buffaloes finished third in the Pac-12 regular season standings and are led by all-conference first-team guard K.J. Simpson (19.6 points per game, 5.7 rebounds) and second-team forward Tristan da Silva (15.8 ppg., 5.2 rpg.).

They are 26th overall at KenPom with the No. 25 offense and 42 defense.

7. Virginia (23-10) finished third in a down ACC.

The Cavaliers are No. 69 in KenPom’s rankings and profile like a typical Tony Bennett team, ranking seventh the nation in defensive efficiency while playing at the slowest tempo in Division I.

Bennett, who led Virginia to the 2019 national championship, has the Cavaliers back in the tournament for the 10th time despite an upset loss to upstart N.C. State in the ACC Tournament final Saturday night.

ACC Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman, a 6-3 senior guard, leads the Hoos in scoring at 14.3 points per game.

8. Colorado State (24-10) is the last of six Mountain West teams to make the 2024 NCAA Tournament field.

The Rams are 38th in KenPom with the No. 42 offense and 38 defense.

Senior guard Isaiah Stevens is a two-time all-conference first-teamer and CSU’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,300 points, trailing only Jimmer Fredette of BYU. He is the Mountain West’s all-time leader in assists and averaged 7.2 helpers per game this season.


6:40 p.m., Wagner vs. Howard, truTV

9:10 p.m., Colorado State vs. Virginia, truTV


6:40 p.m., Grambling vs. Montana State, truTV

9:10 p.m., Colorado vs. Boise State, truTV

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