Verizon Center Among Early Hosts of 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The NCAA men's basketball tournament will be returning to Washington in 2011.

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee announced Monday that Verizon Center has been selected as one of eight venues to host first- and second-round games, which will be played March 17 and March 19, 2011.

The 2011 tournament will mark the fifth time the men's basketball tournament has been played in Washington, where several memorable tournament upsets and thrilling games have occurred over the past 11 years.

The Verizon Center most recently hosted first- and second-round games in 2008, when 15th-seeded Belmont nearly shocked the college basketball world before losing to second-seeded Duke, 71-70.

In 2006, one of the most memorable NCAA tournament games in history was played in Washington, where 11th-seeded George Mason stunned top-seeded Connecticut, 86-84, in overtime in the region final to become just the second double-digit seed to reach the Final Four.

In 2002, at then-MCI Center, top-seeded Maryland beat Siena and Wisconsin to take the first steps on its road to the school's only men's basketball national championship.

And in 1998, fans at then-MCI Center witnessed a series of close games, including 14th-seeded Richmond's 62-61 victory over third-seeded South Carolina and 11th-seeded Washington's 69-68 victory over sixth-seeded Xavier. Also memorable was second-seeded U-Conn.'s struggle to defeat 15th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson.

Other sites selected to host first- and second-round tournament games in 2011 were Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Charlotte, Chicago, Tulsa and Cleveland. The four region sites are Anaheim, Calif.; New Orleans; Newark; and San Antonio. The 2011 Final Four will be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

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