The NCAA announced Monday its early-round basketball tournament sites for 2016-18, and it’s going back to a familiar site in Spokane for 2016. The tournament has been a pretty regular visitor to the Northwest in recent years, and it’s going to get a major dose of it next March, when Seattle’s KeyArena and Portland’s Moda Center (the old Rose Garden) will host first-weekend games.
A twist on the Spokane site is that the official host is the University of Idaho. Washington State has been the host when Spokane has staged the first-second-round games.
The NCAA also announced a name change (beginning in 2016) for the first weekend, which is probably overdue. When the First Four came into being a few years ago, the NCAA made the clumsy change to calling what had been the first-second-round games to second- and third-round games. It might have technically made some sense, but it was one of those changes that only served to confuse people — references to a “third-round” game, on the Saturday of the first weekend, made no sense.