DAYTON, Ohio - When Boise State's Leon Rice spoke to his friends in the coaching world the past two days, he told them "congrats on making the second round."
The Broncos' third-year basketball coach is hoping to get there himself, but first there's a ...
- Play-in game?
- First-round game?
- "The First Four?''
- Dayton game?
Whatever the proper term is these days - the NCAA officially calls them first-round games - the two-day, four-game, eight-team NCAA Tournament prologue in Dayton has produced its share of upsets after the winners leave town.
There are two first-round games Tuesday, and two more Wednesday, including Boise State-La Salle (7:10 p.m. MDT, truTV).
Since the field expanded to 68 teams in 2011, two non-16 seeds that won in Dayton (Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 and South Florida in 2012) went on to upset higher-seeded teams in the next round.
VCU became the darling of the 2011 tournament, advancing all the way to the Final Four.
Then there are teams such as BYU, which last year won in Dayton after coming back from 25 down against Iona to advance, then lost to Marquette by 20 two days later.
"You saw VCU a few years ago rattle off a bunch of wins coming out of the game, but you've seen others just kind of die Friday afternoon, they were worn out," said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, whose team will face the winner of the Boise State-La Salle game on Friday afternoon in Kansas City.
Playing in Dayton can be seen as a potential boon, but also has the possibility of being a bane.
On one hand, a team can have a game's experience under its belt before the second round.
Or a short week before a first-round game could lead to an even quicker turnaround by going on the road again to play two days later in the round of 64.
"I think that turnaround from Sunday to playing (Wednesday) is the biggest challenge," Rice said.
Should the Broncos win Wednesday, they would have to hit the road and play fourth-seeded Wildcats about 36 hours later.
"That's a bridge we'll cross if we need to," Rice said with a laugh.
Weber said he isn't worried about a team coming at his fresh off a win, considering his team dealt with that last week on its way to an appearance in the Big 12 championship.
"I guess you can get relaxed - a win may help them a little bit, but they also have to deal with playing at (7 p.m. Wednesday), then coming back, traveling and playing at (1 p.m. Friday)," Weber said.
For Rice's squad, he sees another benefit that will not have much to do with a shortened schedule, travel or a tough gauntlet of games.
"On the later days, there are a bunch of games going on at the same time, but on Wednesday night, we'll be the only ones on, so that'll be great exposure," he said.
Though Rice won't get ahead of himself and think of upsets that may lie ahead, he has taken an attitude that carried his teams well while an assistant at Gonzaga, and will no doubt carry with the Broncos into Wednesday and possibly beyond.
"It's a lot easier in this tournament to be the hunter than the hunted, and that's how we're going to approach it," Rice said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn