The roar of the crowd after the improbable buzzer-beating shot.

The emotional post-game embrace between coaches and seniors.

The relief on the faces of fans and players alike as teams survive and advance.

Isn’t it easy to get nostalgic about March Madness?

With the college basketball season finally on the horizon and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds returning to Nationwide Arena on March 22 and 24, 2019, Columbus is buzzing with basketball excitement.

March will mark the fifth time that the NCAA Tournament has rolled through Columbus, each instance bringing its own kind of March Madness to the city. In preparation,  we  looked back on our favorite memory from each hosting year:

2015 | No. 11 Dayton Upsets No. 6 Providence in Front of Central Ohio Faithful

March 21, 2015

True to their name, the Dayton Flyers came furiously into the 2015 NCAA Tournament with their flight path straight through Columbus. Dayton fans made the short drive to pack Nationwide Arena from court to ceiling, creating an atmosphere that felt far from that of a neutral site. No. 11 Dayton made themselves at home, picking up a shocking 66-53 upset over No. 6 Providence just days after clawing in as a play-in team.


2012 | Clutch Free Throws Push No. 11 North Carolina State Past No. 3 Georgetown

March 18, 2012

Twice with the game on the line, NC State’s Lorenzo Brown headed to the charity stripe. The Wolfpack led early but were forced to fight off a furious Georgetown comeback late in the game. Brown sunk both free throws with 10.6 seconds left and added another after being fouled again with 4.6 seconds remaining. His clutch, calm demeanor made all the difference as NC State claimed the upset by three, 66-63. The Wolfpack’s win was a full team effort with four players finishing in double digits in points.


2007 | Tennessee Upsets Virginia in Columbus on the Vols’ Path to the Buckeyes

March 21, 2007

Columbus became an instant basketball hotbed during the 2007 First and Second Rounds. While our own Ohio State strolled through the Lexington rounds, Tennessee fans were swarming Nationwide Arena back home. No. 5 Tennessee took on No. 4 Virginia and, led by a second-half comeback and timely free throws, found a 77-74 win to advance. Tennessee went on to face top-seeded Ohio State in the regionals but couldn’t outlast the eventual tournament runner-up Buckeyes.


2004 | No. 9 UAB Stuns No. 1 Kentucky to Reach Sweet 16

March 21, 2004

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment of them all came very first to put Columbus on the NCAA Tournament map. Despite a respectable No. 9 seed, nobody expected Alabama Birmingham to drop top-seeded powerhouse Kentucky. Following an incredible 12 lead changes in the second half, Mo Finley’s jumper with 12.2 seconds on the clock propelled UAB ahead of the Wildcats in a 76-75 finish that brought everyone in the arena to their feet and will remain in our memories forever.

We’re already counting down the days until the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds are back in Columbus. We may be biased, but history shows the results are memorable.

Starting Nov. 3, you can grab your tickets here for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds to ensure you’re in the arena for all the big moments. Visit our Event Calendar for more info on the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds here in Columbus.