‘Hopefully all these Dayton fans will cheer for us’: Wright State to face Bryant in First Four

FAIRBORN — Wright State’s journey in the NCAA tournament will start close to home.

The Raiders (21-13) will face Bryant (22-9) in the First Four at UD Arena on Wednesday at a time to be determined. The winner will advance to face No. 1 seed Arizona in San Diego on Friday.

The Raiders are making their fourth NCAA appearance and second in four years.

Bryant, ranked 192nd in the NET ratings, one spot behind Wright State, finished first in the Northeast Conference and beat Wagner, 70-43, at home in the conference finals.

The Bulldogs started 4-6 but then went on a nine-game winning streak. They have the leading scorer in the country in Peter Kiss, who is averaging 25.1 points.

Arizona is a top seed for the seventh time but hasn’t been in that position since 2014.

“I don’t like being a 16 seed. Obviously, every seed lower just makes it that much more difficult to win,” coach Scott Nagy said. “But I thought we were going to be a 16. I like the fact that we’re playing in Dayton and can get some of the jitters out and maybe win.

“Hopefully, all these Dayton fans will cheer for us.”

No Horizon League team has ever been seeded 16th.

There have been five 15 seeds: Cleveland State (2021), Northern Kentucky (2017), Milwaukee (2014), Detroit (2012), and UIC (2002).

Tickets for the First Four can be purchased online at NCAA.com/mbbtickets.

The UD ticket office is open Monday at 8:30 a.m. The phone number is (937) 229-4433.

“It’ll be awesome,” junior forward Grant Basile said of playing 12 miles from campus. “Hopefully, we’ll get a good turnout. Dayton is a great basketball city, and we’ve got some great fans. It’ll be fun to play.”

Nagy has been to the tourney five teams but is looking for first win.

“That doesn’t get old,” he said of being part of March Madness. “What does get old is going and losing and going home. Just personally, I want to get by that. And I want our team to. That’s the next step.

“The league we’re coming out of, it’s hard to get a really, really high seed, so it’s difficult. But the goal isn’t just to go to the NCAA tournament. If it is, there’s no reason to play any more games.”

About 500 Wright State fans attended a Selection Show watch party at the Student Union on campus, and many gathered around the Horizon League championship trophy for photos.

Nagy addressed the crowd before the bracket was revealed.

“I just want to thank our school administration and athletic administration for how much they support us and give us what we need to do what you like, which is win. I’m very grateful to work at Wright State and have people who support me so well and support our staff and our players and all the athletics,” he said.

“These young me sitting in front of me — and I said this after the (HL title) game — it’s very easy when you’ve won a championship, and you see it all the time, to say, ‘We’ve been through so much and have had so much adversity, and we just love each other.’ ... But I can tell you that these guys, when we were 2-7, were loving on each other and supporting each other.

“We’ve had a lot of family loss this year. And we’ve just had to support each other so much. I’m so very grateful for it. When we were 2-7, I watched them do it, and it’s the reason we won the championship — because they stuck with each other, they helped each other, they held each other up. And you (fans) helped us. You helped hold us up. And we’re so very grateful for that.”

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