The NCAA Tournament
Prepares for Liftoff
By Greg Echlin
The Final Four returns to Houston while the women’s tournament marks its 35th anniversary with all three divisions playing in one host city
There is liftoff in Houston, as well as in the other cities around the country chosen to host this year’s NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Houston is preparing to welcome back the NCAA Men’s Final Four for the first time since 2011, with crowds again packing into NRG (formerly Reliant) Stadium, but the return will mark the third time the city has hosted the championships. When the finals first came to town, in 1971, the game was held at Houston’s Astrodome—dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World when it opened in 1965. A then-record crowd attended the event, awed by the stars of collegiate basketball at the time, including Elvin Hayes and Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
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