|After a 53-year break, Madison Square Garden will host a NCAA Tournament game in 2014. (nymag.com)|
A mecca of basketball and the most popular postseason in sports (and I mean entire postseason, not one game like the Super Bowl) are going to be reunited in 2014, and it's been way too long.
The NCAA announced the sites for the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Tournaments this week and one name jumped off the list of venues who are getting the privilege to host. It's not one of the two Final Four sites, but the attention and atmosphere will rival anything Houston or Indy, respectfully, can do. It's Madison Square Garden, and it will be the home of the 2014 East Regional.
Why is this such a big deal? Well for one, the Garden is the most tradition-rich basketball venue with the capacity to hold an event like this, and it also happens to reside in New York City. What team would complain about traveling to NYC to play basketball in front of Spike Lee?
But part of what makes this reunion so special is that we've been waiting for this since 1961, which was the last time MSG hosted an NCAA Tournament game. How did the NCAA go 53 years without finding a way to host a tournament game in the Garden? It used to be a main-stay for the tournament, as Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president for men's basketball, said in the announcement.
"And we are excited about the tournament returning to the world's most famous arena," Gavitt said. "Only three arenas have hosted more tournament games than Madison Square Garden, despite it being more than five decades since the last time it hosted. That gives you a great sense of the historical significance of bringing the tournament back there."
It's not like MSG hasn't played a role in college basketball for half a century. The Garden has been home to the Big East Tournament and the NIT for many years, as well as serving as the home court for several St. John's games.
But it's a shame it's taken this long for the "world's most famous arena" to pair up with the NCAA Tournament again, especially given the two's history.
A lot has changed since the last NCAA Tournament game held at MSG. The shorts will be longer and the game broadcasted in color, while the popularity of the game has skyrocketed since the 60s. Maybe 2014 will usher in a new era of NCAA Tournament games in the Garden, because another 50-year break is way too long.
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