The Washington Times - May 16, 2012, 01:48PM

The NCAA tournament is returning to Washington next season.

The organization announced the East regional will be played at Verizon Center on March 28 and 30. Other regional sites —- all of which were previously announced —- including Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium), Arlington (Cowboys Stadium) and Los Angeles (Staples Center).


Georgetown will be the host institution.

It is the sixth time Verizon Center has played host to the NCAA tournament, and the second time it was the site of a regional. Among the notable games during those visits …

* 1998 first/second round: All four first-round games were decided by single digits, with 14th-seeded Richmond upsetting third-seeded South Carolina and Indiana needing overtime to outlast Oklahoma. The second-round games were routs, but did set up the fantastic Connecticut-Washington round of 16 game the following week.

* 2002 first/second round: Eventual national champion Maryland slogged its way through its late-night opener against Siena, then thrashed Wisconsin in the round of 32. Connecticut was also back, taking out Hampton (an upset winner the previous year in the first round) and N.C. State in the first year of the pod system.

* 2006 regional: Perhaps you remember George Mason’s Final Four? The Patriots won twice in D.C., upending Mark Turgeon-coached Wichita State and then knocking off Connecticut in a riveting regional final that went to overtime.

* 2008 first/second round: A true subregional that featured all sorts of subplots —- Kevin O’Neill coaching Arizona, Baylor returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since getting hammered by the NCAA, Georgia landing as a No. 14 seed after its unexpected run in the tornado-affected SEC tournament. The most interesting team turned out to be Duke, which barely fended off Belmont before falling to West Virginia in the round of 32.

* 2011 round of 64/round of 32: Most notable for being the only time in the pod system era that both finalists began their tournaments in the same subregional. Butler outlasted Pittsburgh on the way to its second straight title game, while eventual champion Connecticut earned double-digit wins over Bucknell and Cincinnati.

One noteworthy thing from all that history: Connecticut passed through D.C. in four of those five tournaments, going 7-1 in the process. The Huskies won’t this season thanks to a postseason ban related to the programs’ Academic Progress Rate score.

—- Patrick Stevens