Bracketologist Lunardi: WKU likely candidate for First Four game in Dayton


WKU players get pumped up before the Sun Belt Tournament Championship game on March 6. WKU beat North Texas 74-70 to win the Sun Belt’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Most projections have the Toppers as a 16 seed playing in the First Four game in Dayton, Ohio.

Cole Claybourn

Until 5 p.m. on Sunday rolls around, WKU won’t know where it will be playing its first NCAA Tournament game.

But several scenarios have already been tossed around.

Nearly ever scenario, however, involves WKU playing in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio on either Tuesday or Wednesday with the right to play a No. 1 seed in the Second Round.

“Can’t imagine you’re (WKU) not going to Dayton,” ESPN’s “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi told the Herald.

Lunardi’s latest Bracketology — as of 4:30 p.m. Friday — has WKU playing Norkfolk State in a battle of No. 16 seeds for the right to play to Kentucky in Louisville.

President Gary Ransdell said he typically despises the “First Four” — previously known as the “play-in game” before the NCAA added three more teams to the field last season, adding one more game in Dayton.

But Ransdell said this year it’s a little different story, that a 15-18 WKU team is happy to be playing anywhere.

He also noted the environment a WKU-UK matchup in Louisville would provide and said he liked that fans could make the trip if the game was held there.

At least one player — freshman guard Derrick Gordon — would welcome a chance to play UK. Gordon’s high school teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is now a star freshman for UK

Gordon sent out the following tweet on Thursday:

“Can’t wait til Selection Sunday!!! Hope we get the matchup with UK!! Me and @MikeGillie14 been talking about that since high school!!!”

Head Coach Ray Harper has heard plenty of theories about where his surging Toppers might end up, but he’s not concerned with any of the chatter. 

“Everybody’s got their opinions of who we’re going to play and where we’re going to play. We don’t care,” Harper said to a crowd of supporters Wednesday after the team returned to Bowling Green at the Carroll Knicely Center. “We don’t fear anyone. We’ll respect everyone. We’ve won six in a row. Our next goal is to win seven in a row.”

WKU will hold a viewing party for the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday. Doors will open at 4 p.m. and the show itself starts at 5 p.m.

CBS will broadcast the Selection Show. 

WKU was contacted by CBS about its plans for Sunday but has yet to confirm whether or not camera crews will be in attendance to show fan reaction when WKU’s name is called, as CBS does with select teams that make the tournament.

CBS was at Diddle Arena for the viewing party in 2009 when WKU made the NCAA Tournament.

President Obama to attend First Four games in Dayton

If WKU ends up playing in Dayton, it will be in the presence of America’s president.

According to the Dayton Daily News, President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he will attend the First Four games in Dayton next week along with David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“I think it’s great. He is a huge basketball fan,” Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley told the Dayton Daily News. “Even he knows that Dayton is a huge basketball town.”