Recent NCAA policy is that, of the sixty-four teams in the post-season, the sixteen top seeds host the first two rounds of the tournament. Since Stanford will almost surely be seeded higher than 16th (they are #8 as of this writing), will we watch a set of first-round games at Maples the weekend of March 17th?
No, we will not.
Why we won't host
The reason is that Maples Pavilion will play host that weekend to the PAC-12 Women's Gymnastics Championship. As a result, Maples is not available for NCAA basketball.
This did not come as a surprise to the Stanford Athletics office. The Women's Gymnastics Championship rotates around the league, and it was long known that this year would be Stanford's turn to host.
The WBB office knew a year ago that Maples would not be an option for the NCAAs. Could they have secured some alternate venue? It turns out they could not, for several reasons.
The first reason is the NCAA requirements for hosting this event. They require a minimum seating capacity that is large enough to rule out small venues like USF or Santa Clara.
The NCAA also requires exclusive use of the venue for four days. Arenas that are part of a school almost always have other sports that need the school's arena for practice, or even to host their own championship events in some sport, and they won't give up a full four days of access at this time of the year.
Another reason is cost. Four days at a large arena don't come cheap. There's another problem: the venue would have to be booked well in advance: last fall at the least. And they would want money up front as a deposit. But last fall Stanford could not be certain they would have the opportunity to host. Being a 16-seed or better is not a given before the season even starts. So to book a commercial arena would have required a sizable expense before the WBB office could be certain it was justified. That's a hard sell to the Athletic Department.
Who will host?
There's no way to know. The offer to host the first round does not automatically go to the 17th seed. Schools bid to be hosts before the season starts. Not all schools bid. So the offer to host will be extended to the next-ranked school that actually offered a bid to host. But that won't be known until the final seeding is settled. Even then, many other considerations come into play. For example, they won't place Stanford in first-round bracket with any other PAC-12 team. Given the number of PAC-12 teams likely to make the post-season, that will complicate matters quite a bit.
Bottom line: we will know where the Cardinal will play the first and second round on Selection Monday, March 13, and not before. It could be anywhere in the country.
We have a little bit more knowledge about the Regionals. If Stanford wins its first two games, it will play the next two at one of four places: Bridgeport CN, Lexington KY, Oklahoma City, or—cross your fingers—Stockton.