Oklahoma's TaShawn Thomas answers questions during a news conference at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Oklahoma plays Dayton in the Round of 32 Sunday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak
March 21, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) If Oklahoma fans are looking for someone to blame for the Sooners having to play Dayton in a virtual road game in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, they can start with the guy running their athletic department.

Athletic director Joe Castiglione was part of the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee.

The committee's decision to place Dayton in the First Four, played on the Flyers' home floor, and in a round of 64 site 80 miles from its campus has been one of the hot topics of the tournament.

Dayton (27-8) followed up its First Four victory against Boise State on Wednesday by beating Providence late Friday night in front of a packed, partisan house at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

The third-seeded Sooners (23-10) understand the reality. Coach Lon Kruger said he will prepare his team to play a road game for the right to go to the East Regional in Syracuse, but sees no reason to complain about it.

''Fair or unfair. That doesn't even come up,'' Kruger said Saturday. ''We're playing Dayton with a crowd that's going to be pro-Dayton. We understand that it adds to the challenge.''

Flyers coach Archie Miller, who led Dayton to the Elite Eight last season, said he is getting a little tired of hearing about how fortunate his team has been.

''It's hard for me to apologize for making the tournament. It's hard for me to apologize to our guys getting ready to play six games in 10 days,'' Miller said. ''I don't think I have to apologize ... for what we're trying to accomplish or where we're doing it.''

Castiglione said the possibility of Dayton being placed in the First Four at home has been talked about for years by the selection committee.

''Now that it has occurred I'm certain it will be discussed again,'' he said.

Once Dayton was deemed to be one of the last four teams to earn an at-large bid, the committee then reasonably decided to place the Flyers, who played the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game on Sunday in New York, in a Wednesday game instead of Tuesday.

The Dayton-Boise State winner then had to be placed at a Friday-Sunday site as an 11 seed.

''For any of the four teams that make it in the First Four, the discussion includes the logistics of how a team moves from the game they played to the next round if they win,'' Castiglione said. ''We're mindful of getting a team from campus to the site for Tuesday or if it's a Wednesday game, and then moving them on to the other site.

''The discussion always is about making sure that the team that wins can advance on to a site that is the least amount of trouble.''

The other Friday sites were Seattle, Omaha and Charlotte. None of those sites was hosting a No. 3 seed, so lots of juggling would have been required to get Dayton out of Ohio.

Some things to know about the fourth basketball played between Dayton and Oklahoma.

HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE?

According to gambling experts Pregame.com, the home team in college basketball has won 67.7 percent of the time over the past five seasons. So giving a team anything that approximates a home-court advantage is significant.

But it's not just about distance from home.

RJ Bell, the CEO of Las Vegas-based Pregame.com, said a team's familiarity with an arena plays a part in how much of an advantage an oddsmaker will give a team in the NCAA Tournament. How well a team's fans travel and how well the fans of the other teams at a site travel to games are also considered.

''Let's say it was Kentucky in Dayton's bracket. Yeah, the Wildcats are farther away, but they travel so well, their fans won't allow another group to buy all the tickets,'' Bell said.

Because of all that, Bell said, it is difficult to precisely track how teams with a perceived home-court advantage do in the tournament.

Still, Bell said proximity advantage is typically undervalued by bettors.

''It has more impact than people think,'' Bell said.

KRUGER TIME

With a victory against Dayton, Kruger will be become the first coach to take to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament round of 16. (Kansas State in 1988, Florida in 1994 and UNLV in 2007). Kruger's 29-year head coaching career started at Texas-Pan American in 1982 and also includes a stop at Illinois.

SCOOCHIE SNACKS

Smith played 40 minutes against Providence and turned the ball over just once. He also helped slow down Big East player of the year Kris Dunn.

''He's playing the game as a point guard how we envisioned him playing,'' Miller said. ''And he is the single biggest reason why we're playing today.''

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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