The road to the Final Four is a long one, but it all starts right here in Ohio. This year, once again, the University of Dayton will host the NCAA Division I men’s basketball play-in games known as the First Four.
The four games take place on the Tuesday and Wednesday following Selection Sunday. Games tip off at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. each day, March 14 and 15.
With legal sports betting in Ohio up and running, fans flocking to Dayton for the opening round games will want to know more about their options.
University of Dayton to continue hosting the First Four
Dayton is no stranger to the big-time games. UD has hosted the March Madness inaugural game every year since 2001. When the NCAA added the First Four in 2011, replacing the Opening Round, the tipoff to the tournament stayed in Dayton. UD Arena has hosted 125 Men’s D1 NCAA tournament games — more than any other venue.
The First Four has become a tradition and a source of pride for the Dayton area. Each year, the University and local community come together to create the Big Hoopla, a mix of additional community events in the area. It’s an occasion that takes all year to plan, according to Scott DeBolt, executive director of UD Arena.
The university initially secured the privilege of hosting the First Four through 2022. But the community’s dedication impressed the NCAA enough that UD is now committed to host the games through 2026.
First Four is a Big Hoopla in Dayton
The Big Hoopla is a collection of events surrounding the First Four games that aim to showcase the Dayton area and add to the excitement for fans and visitors.
The annual Hoopla Four Miler race kicks off the festivities on Selection Sunday, followed by a post-race celebration. Race prizes include cash and game tickets. The race starts and ends near UD Arena. Participants need to register first.
- Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 12.
- Location: UD Arena, 1801 S Edwin C Moses Blvd., Dayton, Ohio 45417
- Parking is available in Area A. Cross Edwin C Moses to get to the starting area at the softball field.
Kids and adults will enjoy the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge, a free event for K-8 students on Sunday, March 12 inside the UD Arena. The hands-on event will engage students with fun science and technology demonstrations, exhibitions, and contests. Science entertainer Eric Energy will perform two 1-hour shows.
- Registration: 11 a.m.
- Eric Energy Shows: 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
- Opening Ceremony: 12:30 p.m.
- Exhibitions Begin: 1 p.m.
On Monday and Tuesday, fans are welcome to the arena to watch some of their favorite NCAA teams practice. The free event is open to the public Monday, March 13 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m., and Tuesday, March 14 from noon-3 p.m.
First Four odds/history
So, do these eight teams stand a chance in the NCAA Tournament tournament?
Since the First Four games were added to the tournament in 2010, five teams that began the tournament in Dayton have advanced to the Second Round and Sweet 16.
Two teams advanced even further. In 2011, VCU made it made it from the First Four to the Final Four. In 2021, UCLA did the same, led by former University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin.
The 2023 First Four games in Dayton might give you a chance to see history in the making.
Getting there and parking
UD Arena is usually at or near capacity for these games, but tickets are still available from Ticketmaster or the official NCAA Ticket Exchange.
The parking lots located at University of Dayton Arena (Lots A, B, C, and D) are available for the First Four.
- Parking for Lots A, B, and C are sold in advance for $15 for one game or $25 for all games.
- Parking in Lot D is $20 per vehicle on the day of the event (card only).
- The overflow lot will be closed, and no shuttle service will be offered. Lots located on River Park Road will not be available for these events and no shuttle bus service will be offered.
How to watch the First Four
The First Four will be televised on TruTV. You can use any live streaming service that offers TruTV to watch the games.
For free live streaming, the NCAA’s March Madness Live site or its March Madness Live app offer a free three-hour trial. The March Madness Live app is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and Xbox One. If you subscribe to certain pay-TV providers, you can sign into the app and watch for free.
The rest of the tournament will be televised across CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV.
2023 March Madness tournament schedule
Catch two other live games right here in Ohio on March 17 & 19. Nationwide Arena in Columbus will host First and Second Round match ups.
Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 12 (6 p.m. ET on CBS)
First Four: March 14-15
First round: March 16-17
Second round: March 18-19
Sweet 16: March 23-24
Elite Eight: March 25-26
Final Four: April 1
NCAA Championship Game: April 3
Ohio sportsbooks available to Dayton visitors
Ohio’s sports betting market includes 17 Ohio sports betting apps, along with 12 retail sportbooks at various casinos, racinos and pro sports stadiums throughout the state.
The only retail sportsbook located in Dayton is the Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. There are also more than 860 sports betting kiosks located at bars, restaurants and other businesses throughout the state, including 17 in Dayton.
Out-of-state visitors are allowed to sign up for Ohio sportsbook apps and use them while within the state’s borders. Out-of-towners will want to read the terms of service and should plan to withdraw any funds before leaving the state. Many Ohio sportsbooks are currently offering sign-up bonuses and promotions for new users.
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