UNM eyeing 2019-2022 for NCAA tournament’s return

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – When the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament gets into full swing Thursday, eight cities around the country will be hosting games.

Albuquerque isn’t one of them after its bid for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 games was rejected two years ago, but the University of New Mexico badly wants to bring the tournament back.

The Pit has hosted tournament games 10 times, including the legendary 1983 Final Four where NC State pulled off a memorable upset over Houston. Most recently, opening round games were played in Albuquerque in 2012.

UNM deputy athletic director for internal operations, Janice Ruggiero, says the school is already working on the next round of bidding for the 2019-2022 tourneys, with the full hosting proposal due in August.

“We have the weather, we have the history, we have the venue, you know basketball fans here are the best fans in the country,” Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero says the school didn’t receive any negative feedback from the NCAA about the prior bid that was turned down, but said UNM will look at successful bids from that year and learn from those.

Geography may be working against UNM as typically only one site in the Mountain Time zone is selected as a host in the opening rounds.

Increased competition and a trend towards larger cities hosting the NCAA tournament is something else UNM will have to battle.

“When you used to bid on this 20 years ago there were only so many buildings that could hold it,” Ruggiero said. “Fast forward and now there are so many venues that can hold it and everybody wants it.”

It’s unclear when UNM would find out if The Pit will host future NCAA Tournament games. In 2014, the decision was announced in November.

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