Already boasting a rich basketball history, Madison Square Garden will add one more notch to its belt when it hosts 2014 NCAA Tournament East regional. (Photo courtesy of St. John's University)
For the second time in as many years, St. John's University will help play host to NCAA Tournament action.
With the early rounds of the women's tournament coming to Carnesecca Arena in March, the Red Storm and Big East Conference will again join forces to welcome the East Regional semifinals and finals to Madison Square Garden in 2014, as announced by the NCAA this afternoon. It will be the first tournament basketball at the "World's Most Famous Arena" since 1961, first in either New York City or Long Island since Nassau Coliseum was an opening-round regional site in 1996; and second regional in the Tri-State area in four years, as the Prudential Center in Newark saw John Calipari and Kentucky cut down its nets in 2011.
Despite the fact that New York will host Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games, New York City's college team may not. NCAA rules state that a team who plays more than three games in a host venue will be unable to compete in that said venue in NCAA Tournament play, which means that St. John's will be sent away from home should the Red Storm make the 2014 Tournament, or unless Steve Lavin magically schedules the majority of his home games on campus at Carnesecca Arena. The Empire State will technically receive another regional as well, when Syracuse and the Carrier Dome will be the hosts for the East in 2015.
"The bid process was as competitive as ever," said Dan Gavitt, an NCAA official whose father Dave was instrumental in establishing the Big East, and served as the conference's first commissioner. "We are excited about the Tournament returning to the 'World's Most Famous Arena.' Only three arenas have hosted more tournament games than Madison Square Garden. That gives you a great sense of the historical significance of bringing it (the tournament) back there."
St. John's may not be able to take part in the next Garden regional, but schools such as Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky, each of whom have managed to draw well wherever they travel; especially at the Mecca of college basketball, will almost certainly be considered as No. 1 seed candidates if their record allows for it.
The Garden will host their East Regional dates on March 28th and 30th, 2014, with the NCAA Tournament itself getting underway on the 18th and 19th of March with the First Four games in Dayton.