According to an ESPN report, the NCAA tournament will no longer feature games in domes before the Final Four. This is excellent news for college basketball and college basketball fans. While evidence does not back up the general complaint that domes cause poor shooting percentages, there's no doubt that the domes weaken the atmosphere of college basketball's biggest weekends.
The practice of putting 1st and 2nd weekend games in domes started about 20 years ago so future Final Four sites could iron out the kinks before getting to host the big weekend. It happened just this year with the new Cowboys Stadium getting the South regional a year before it will host the Final Four. Speaking as a fan of one of the teams in that regional, they have a lot of things to iron out before next year.
The dome sites had trouble selling enough tickets to create a good atmosphere, and as a result it was tough to differentiate a Sweet 16 game from a December non conference game. That's not good for college basketball and having a regional in Bankers Life Fieldhouse or the Target Center just makes more sense than having it in Lucas Oil Arena or the Metrodome. Obviously the Final Four next year will be a special set of circumstances because Jerry World is on another level from even other domed stadiums, but if you saw any pictures from that regional this year you know how ridiculous it is to have a TV screen above the court that is about three times the size of the court and to have the court (not the players, the actual court) be nothing more than a dot in the middle of a giant fishbowl.
CBS's Matt Norlander also notes that now any arena can bid for the Final Four going forward, but I agree with him that the Final Four has no such problems filling up even the biggest dome sites and providing the Final Four with a great atmosphere, so I doubt we see the sport's final weekend played in a basketball arena for quite some time. Of course, having programs like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Michigan in the last couple Final Fours does a lot to provide the Final Four with a great atmosphere.