Forget First Four, games in Dayton feel like NCAA Tournament

By  | 

DAYTON, Ohio (Valley News Live) -- Tuesday was a full day for the North Dakota State Men's Basketball team in Dayton, Ohio. The Bison got to the court early Tuesday afternoon and met with the media for the first time at the NCAA Tournament.

Then it was out to the court to get as comfortable as possible on the surface they'll be taking on North Carolina Central on Wednesday.
After the practice it was back to the team hotel for a meal and some some film sessions trying to get as familiar as possible before they tip off with the Eagles in NDSU's first NCAA Tournament game since 2015.

Say what you want about these first four games being play-ins and earning that right into the first round of the NCAA Tournament but the Bison will tell you this definitely feels like an NCAA Tournament.

In their words:
Freshman Same Greisel: "Just getting to the arena and seeing everything and how serious everyone takes it it definitely feels like it"
Sophomore Cameron Hunter: "Absolutely. It's still a dream come true no matter if we're here or wherever it still feels like the real thing."
Junior Jared Samuelson: "It's incredible. It's hard to put in words. It's kind of just going by so fast too. But it's definitely a great experience, definitely a blessing, dream come true honestly."
Junior Tyson Ward: "Absolutely. When we first landed and we walked off that charter flight, you walk down the steps and you see the First Four on the mat, you walk on the bus, get to the hotel, people are cheering for you to walk in, you just feel like you finally made it. You're finally here in this tournament."
Junior Vinnie Shahid: "You definitely do. You walk in and see the March Madness everywhere in the building, you see the fans, hear all the bands and stuff playing, you see the other teams. It's definitely starting to feel a little real now."

None of those players have experienced playing in the NCAA Tournament yet, but from experience, Dayton feels like NDSU's trip to Seattle in 2015 for a first round game against Gonzaga, or when North Dakota went to Salt Lake City to play Arizona in the first round in 2017.

The scene in Dayton is very similar to the scenes there.

North Dakota State plays North Carolina Central Wednesday at 5:40 p.m. on truTV.