The Evansville area loves its basketball and it seems the game of basketball loves it back with Monday's announcement that the Ohio Valley Conference will be hosting its men's and women's basketball tournaments at the Ford Center for at least another year.

Ohio Valley Conference Exercises Option for 2024 Basketball Tourney at Ford Center

After years of hosting the tournament in Nashville, the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) moved the tournament to the Ford Center in 2018 where it has been held every year since and will be once again in March 2023. Clearly, conference administrators have been happy with how both the city and the venue have treated them over the course of the past five tournaments as the Board of Presidents announced on Monday they had "exercised the option in the contract" for the tournament to return to downtown Evansville in March 2024.

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OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche said in a press release announcing the decision that "the warm and supporting relationship we have developed in Evansville as well as the championship-quality venue" made the decision to exercise the option an easy one.

The news of the additional year is no doubt a welcome one for Evansville area businesses. The tournament draws thousands of fans of the schools playing in the event which is beneficial to hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets in the area.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash
Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

USI Could Make Its OVC Tournament Debut in 2023

One major difference with the upcoming tournament in March is that it could feature a hometown team in the University of Southern Indiana for the first time since moving to Evansville. The 2022-23 season is the first for the Screaming Eagles as a Division I program and member of the OVC after announcing the Board of Directors had voted in favor of reclassifying back in February. If either team finishes in the top eight of the conference, they'll qualify to play. However, if either wins their respective tournament, they will not get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament because of the mandatory four-year probationary period the Athletic Department is currently under as a condition of their reclassification that prohibits them from participating in national tournaments. Despite that, either team qualifying for the tournament should attract a larger crowd to the Ford Center, particularly for the games they compete in.

[Source: Ohio Valley Conference]

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