Hosting NCAA Tournament rounds during March Madness is now a possibility in Springfield.
The dream took a hit when the Missouri State Lady Bears lost to Southern Illinois, but one major roadblock was resolved on Jan. 22.
MSHSAA made an adjustment to the Class 4 and Class 5 state basketball schedule the weekend of March 21 in anticipation of the Lady Bears potentially being in line to host first and second round games in the NCAA Tournament.
“If we could bring the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament to Springfield at JQH, that would be amazing,” head coach Amaka ‘Mox’ Agugua-Hamilton said earlier in the season. “I think our fans would show out. I think our players would be putting themselves in a position to make another run in postseason.
“That would be the ultimate goal.”
Originally, the big-class state tournament was to be played over two days on March 20-21. Those are also the same two days as the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
The Class 4 state basketball tournament will now start on March 19 with four semifinal games, according to MSHSAA’s Communications Director Jason West.
If the Lady Bears host, every Class 4 and Class 5 semifinal and placement games will take place in Hammons Student Center — with up to eight games scheduled for that Friday.
If the Lady do not host, six games will take place at JQH Arena and the Class 4 third-place games will take place at Hammons Student Center.
On that Saturday, the Class 5 games will take place at either Hammons Student Center if the Lady Bears are hosting or JQH if they are not.
Missouri State is 16-3 overall and 6-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play and No. 13 in RPI. The top 16 seeds picked by the NCAA will host first and second round games.
As of right now, the Lady Bears are projected to be a No. 6 seed playing No. 11 seed Old Dominion with No. 3 Oregon State hosting in the Fort Wayne quadrant, according to ESPN’s women’s basketball bracketology expert Charlie Creme.