The state of North Carolina being off-limits for NCAA postseason competitions turned out to be South Carolina’s gain, and there will be NCAA tournament basketball in the southernmost Carolina for the first time since 2002.
Greenville, S.C., received the bid to host first- and second-round NCAA tournament games in 2017, according to Andy Katz of ESPN.com.
Interestingly, the 14-year hiatus ending in South Carolina coincides with another social issue. The state removing the Confederate flag from its state capitol in 2015 ended the embargo on the NCAA placing championship events in the state. These games will take place at Furman University, a Southern Conference member, on March 17 and 19, 2017, per Katz.
Both the NCAA and ACC have followed the NBA’s lead of removing championship events from North Carolina following the state’s passage of the controversial HB2 law, known as the “bathroom bill.” Greenville was the pick because the NCAA said a mid-Atlantic site was needed since the other first-round games will be played in Orlando, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Tulsa, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, Katz reports.
“Geography played a huge role in this decision,” the NCAA’s Dan Gavitt told Katz. “Greenville is only 190 miles from Greensboro. All of the other options didn’t offer that geographic balance. That had a significant role.”
Both Columbia and Greenville expressed interest in bidding for the NCAA site as soon as the flag came down last summer, per Gavitt, who added the cities placed bids for 2019-22 as well.
South Carolina has scant NCAA tourney hosting experience, with the state only receiving games in 1970 (in Columbia) and 2002 (in Greenville).