NCAA Tournament • BYU's Noah Hartsock calls president "just another fan in the stands."
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Dayton, Ohio • President Barack Obama once confessed to being a big fan of former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette, but there's no telling which teams he will cheer for Tuesday night during the NCAA Tournament's First Four games at Dayton Arena.
Obama is expected to attend both the Western Kentucky-Mississsippi Valley State game (5 p.m. MDT) and the BYU-Iona game (7 p.m. MDT) as the Big Dance gets under way, and he's bringing British Prime Minister David Cameron with him.
"Well, good. Hopefully we will play well for them," BYU coach Dave Rose said when he heard the news Sunday.
Security will be tight, as expected, for the games. Fans and media members were told Monday that nothing larger than a laptop computer case will be allowed in the building.
"The presence of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron reinforces what a great event the First Four is," said Dayton athletic director Tim O'Connell. "We've said many times that when the First Four comes to the University of Dayton Arena, the eyes of the basketball world are on us. Now, the eyes of the entire world will be on the arena on Tuesday."
Does that bring additional pressure to the Cougars and Gaels?
"Not really," said BYU junior forward Brandon Davies. "I am just there to try to win a game, so I am not worried about who's there."
Coincidentally, the man expected to earn the Republican nomination and run against Obama this fall is a BYU graduate, Mitt Romney.
"I am not a big political guy," said BYU senior Noah Hartsock when asked which candidate he supports. Obama is "just another fan in the stands."
Iona coach Tim Cluess said the Gaels will be honored to play in front of the president and prime minister.
"It's great that the president is spending time to come here to such a great event as the NCAA [Tournament] and a tipoff [game]," Cluess said. "It's tremendous that he can find the time with his busy schedule, which is a lot more important than what we do."