March Madness: These teams are coming to Dayton for the First Four

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

A nearly all-new set of teams are preparing to come to Dayton for the First Four this week.

The first game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament will feature No. 16 seeds Wagner and Howard in a game scheduled to tip off at 6:40 on Tuesday.

Later that night, Colorado State will face Virginia in a battle of 10 seeds.

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On Wednesday night, No. 16 seeds Montana State and Grambling State will tip at 6:40 followed by 10th-seeded Boise State and Colorado, teams that finished second and third in the Mountain West and Pac-12, respectively, in the regular season.

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

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

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.

Grambling will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Southwest Athletic Conference for the first time. The 20-14 Tigers were the regular season champs of the SWAC as well.

Colorado State (24-10) finished tied for sixth in the loaded Mountain West while 23-10 Virginia was third in the ACC.

Of the eight teams in the 2024 First Four, only Boise State is a repeat visitor.

The Broncos lost to La Salle in 2013 and Dayton in 2015.

With the exception of 2021 when the full tournament was held in Indiana because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Dance has started in Dayton every year since it first expanded beyond 64 teams in 2001 with the play-in game.

The First Four was first held in 2011, and two teams have advanced to the Final Four after starting in it: VCU in 2011 and UCLA in 2021.

At least one First Four winner has gone on to advance to the round of 32 in every year but one.

That includes No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson shocking No. 1 Purdue last year.

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