CRAWFORD | NCAA hoops regionals return to Louisville, Calipari c - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | NCAA hoops regionals return to Louisville, Calipari calls it a 'good thing'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Louisville will play host to an NCAA Regional Final for only the third time in its history when the NCAA's South Regional comes to the KFC Yum! Center in 2016.

The facility played host to early-round NCAA events in 2012 and will do the same on March 19 and 21 next year. It held a women's regional final last season, but this will be the first regional final in the city since Rick Pitino led Providence to an upset of Georgetown in the 1987 NCAA Tournament.

It could particularly benefit the University of Kentucky, which won both its games here in the 2012 regional and could get to play a regional final in its home state it if advanced next year. The University of Louisville, which plays its home games in the KFC Yum! Center, wouldn't be eligible to play there in the regional.

UK coach John Calipari said it's great for his program, and the state.

"When we played in 2012 it was great," Calipari said. "One, it's good for our state. It's good for a city that drives the state, Louisville. It's good for all the fans that love basketball in this state. So it's a good thing. Our team played well in that arena.”

The move comes as the NCAA moves away from domed stadiums for its NCAA regional rounds. A year ago, the University of Louisville and UK met in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium in the round of 16. But the NCAA says it is opting for smaller venues in coming years, and doesn't have a dome among any of its regional final sites for 2016, '17 or '18.

"There's the possibility we may go back to using domes in the future for sure, but again, the potential of selling out a building and having it be a tough ticket and an incredible atmosphere is greater, frankly, the committee thinks in arenas than it is in domes," Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's vice president for basketball, said in a teleconference on Monday. "There's more risk, I think, going to the domes with that kind of student-athlete experience.  That was, I think, essentially why the committee made the decisions they did."

In 2016, the regionals will be held in Louisville, Anaheim, Calif., Chicago and Philadelphia, leading up to the Final Four in Houston.

In addition to the 1987 regional finals, Louisville's Freedom Hall also played host to a regional in 1976, when Michigan emerged from a four-team event that also featured Missouri, Texas Tech and Notre Dame.

Freedom Hall had a long history of playing host to NCAA Tournament events, as one of the largest arenas in the nation in its day. Louisville was home to the NCAA's Final Four six times, in 1958 and '59, again in 1962 and '63, and in 1967 and 1969.

Kentucky won its 1958 NCAA championship without ever leaving the state, but the city was left out of Final Four contention when the NCAA decided to play those events only in domed stadiums.

Louisville is the only team in NCAA history to play a Final Four game on its home court -- losing to West Virginia 94-79 in the 1959 national semifinals.

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