• Any Pitt fans who are visiting Dayton and wondering how come it’s so difficult to get around certain parts of town, click on this link and you’ll understand.
The Stewart Street Bridge is about half completed since the July 2008 demolition of the 96-year-old span. The bridge crossed the Great Miami River and served as a main connector between the University of Dayton and its UD Arena. The new bridge is slated to be completed later this year – or about six months after the NCAA leaves town.
• The UD Arena will host its 81st NCAA Tournament game on Sunday afternoon, which will match the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City for the second-most used venue in March Madness.
From Austin Carr’s record 61-point outburst in the arena’s first day NCAA Tournament action on March 7, 1970 to George Mason’s opening two victories on its run to the Final Four, the UD arena has seen its share of NCAA history.
The No. 1 facility for most games is the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, which hosted 83 games between 1940-64. For the record, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena has hosted 12 NCAA Tournament games, six each in 1997 and 2002.
• Without question, my favorite story from an NCAA Tournament game in Dayton is the 1981 second-round game between DePaul and St. Joseph’s.
After St. Joe’s stunned DePaul on a free throw with three seconds to play for a 49-48 victory, DePaul’s unanimous first-team All-America Mark Aguirre didn’t even attempt to inbounds the ball. Disgusted with another early-round loss for his Blue Demons, Aguirre raced outside with the ball and, reportedly, threw it into the Great Miami River, which runs a couple of hundreds yards away from the arena. There’s no telling if the ball hit the Stewart Street Bridge that is no longer there.
• The two No. 1 seeds that played on Thursday – Connecticut and North Carolina – won by an average of 54.5 points. Connecticut’s 103-47 win over No. 16 seed Chattanooga was the third most-lopsided game in NCAA Tournament history. A huge first-round win isn’t always a good sign. The last team to win by such a large margin, Kansas over Prairie View by 58 points in a 1998 first-round game, lost to Rhode Island a couple of days later in the second round.
• The hotel lobby of the Dayton Marriott – the official media hotel – was crowded this morning with large numbers of Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Pitt fans. I have yet to see one person wearing a T-shirt, sweatshirt or baseball cap from either East Tennessee State or Morehead State. For sure, there are certainly as many Pitt fans as any other school The lobby is a diverse collection, with AM-970 radio host Joe Bendel’s remote setup in one corner and a portable bar complete with $5 beers and $7 bloody marys across the way.