Designated Hitter: Hoops on the way locally

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The five letters ICYMI are everywhere on social media. If you are not a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram regular, it means "In Case You Missed It."

So that's what this column is. It's the first ICYMI edition.

ICYMI, Berkshire County will be within the orbits of two major college basketball events. Sometimes, it is wonderful to live here.

I have often told you about the copious amount of good major, and small college, basketball that is within a short drive from your house. For example, it takes me no more than 90 minutes to get from my Pittsfield abode to either Albany, Amherst, Williamstown or Hartford. It's two hours if I try to get to Worcester.

The NCAA has bestowed upon Albany and Hartford some NCAA Division I basketball tournament action.

The Times Union Center in Albany will get a pair of dates, while the XL Center in Connecticut gets one.

UConn, Hartford and the XL Center will host the first and second rounds of the Division I men's basketball tournament in 2019, the first year of these new agreements.

Hartford will host the games on March 21 and 23, 2019. I don't know for certain if UConn is allowed to play games there, assuming the Huskies make the tournament. Teams aren't allowed to play on their home courts, but since the XL Center is only half a home court, that remains to be seen.

More importantly, will UConn get back to the tournament?

Siena won't be able to play a first-round game at the TU when the arena in Albany hosts first- and second-round games on March 19 and 21, 2020. However, if UAlbany makes the 2020 NCAA Tournament, the Great Danes could be sent to Albany for the first round.

Albany will get back-to-back tournaments. The NCAA Division I women's regional will be held at the Times Union Center March 29-April 1, 2019.

Assuming the UConn women are still one of the four best teams in America, you can expect to see the Huskies show up on South Pearl Street.

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With the good news came a really disappointing ICYMI. When the NCAA handed out its list of tournament hosts, it did not have Salem, Va., as the site of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. Instead, Fort Wayne, Ind., will host the D-III Final Four for four seasons starting in 2019.

There was no, I repeat, no good reason to move the Final Four out of Salem.

Sure, it was tough for the Williams men to get down there this year. Part of that was because of the snowstorm that hit just before they left. But if you are trying to fly from Albany or Hartford to Fort Wayne, you're hanging in for a 6-12 hour trip, depending on your connection and a layover.

More importantly, Brad Bankston and J.J. Nekoloff, from the host Old Dominion Athletic Conference and Salem's director of Tourism, Carey Harveycutter, make this a first-class thing for the student-athletes.

When I talk to NESCAC players and coaches, they always reference going to Salem, and not always using the term Final Four.

Salem is a destination, much like Omaha is for Division I baseball and Dayton for the D-I basketball First Four.

This is no knock on Fort Wayne or the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. I am certain the city is ready to roll out the red carpet.

But doesn't tradition count for anything anymore?

ICYMI.

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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