(CBSDFW/TiqIQ) - Every year on Selection Sunday, eager college basketball fans with tournament locations nearby their home towns wait by the television to see if their Alma Matter or hometown school will get slotted at the venue closest to them. When it comes to NCAA Tournament ticket prices in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the tourney, school proximity to the host site is often the single most important factor that drives demand, and subsequently, prices. This phenomenon is perhaps best illustrated by the placement of Syracuse of the ACC in the South Region as opposed to the East Region. While much has been made of the committee’s decision to keep Syracuse clear of potential games at Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, they have instead been placed at the First Niagara Center in nearby Buffalo for rounds 2 and 3. While Sweet 16 tickets and Elite 8 tickets at MSG have fallen about 27.7% since it became clear that Syracuse would not be present, tickets for Session 3 in Buffalo have shot up to an average price of $300.20, making them the second most expensive session of the first two rounds.
Here is a region-by-region breakdown of the most expensive NCAA tournament tickets and best bargains for the 2nd and 3rd round games in the NCAA tournament:
While Session 3 in Buffalo is the most expensive single session in the South Region, St. Louis is the location with the highest overall ticket price across all sessions. With nearby Kansas University locking down the #2 seed in the region and looking to roll, tickets at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis carry an average price of $229.39 across all sessions. Currently, Session 1 in St. Louis which pits New Mexico against Stanford followed by Kansas against Eastern Kentucky is the most expensive 2nd round session in the region at an average price of $200.03. Get-in prices of $107 for this session are also a region high. The least expensive session in the South is Session 1 in Orlando at an average of $154.20. This session features a likely romp of #1 Florida over Albany, and #8 Colorado against #9 Pittsburgh, a game in which neither team has a local presence. Although the south and Florida in particular is big time SEC country, the get-in price for this session of $38 is the lowest get-in of any session in the tournament. This region also features a little west coast boon with UCLA playing close to home in San Diego. Tickets for Session 2 in San Diego featuring UCLA against Tulsa carry an average of $194.43, well above the 2nd round tourney-wide average of $114.46.
The highest priced games in the East are those taking place at PNC Arena (Formerly RBC Center) in Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina is most certainly ACC territory, and only a few hours away for Virginia Cavaliers fans. UVA was able to roll through the ACC to capture both regular season and conference tournament titles, and looks to return to the Final Four for the first time since 1984. Tickets for Session 2 in Raleigh are currently listed at an average of $227.47 on the secondary market, the highest figure of any Session across the entire tournament for the round of 64. Contrarily, the lowest priced tickets in the region are for Session 2 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. This session features North Carolina vs Providence and Iowa State vs NC Central, four schools not located anywhere near Texas. Tickets for this session currently average $158.65 on the secondary market.
Over in the West Region, #2 seeded Wisconsin found themselves with a favorable draw for the first two rounds as they remain in-state for Session 1 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The hometown Badgers are looking to avenge their loss in last year’s tournament as a 5 seed, and find themselves with a nice path to the Sweet 16 through their home state. Tickets for Session 1 in Milwaukee are experiencing the home team boon, up to an average of $203.14. However, the West also features the single lowest priced session for the round of 64 as well, which is Session 2 in Spokane, Washington. During this session, Oklahoma takes on North Dakota State, while San Diego State plays New Mexico State. Tickets for this session currently average $138.14 on the secondary market.
After a Cinderella run to the Final Four for the ages last season as 9 seed in the West, the Wichita State Shockers have put together an undefeated season to this point to capture a #1 seed in the Midwest Region this year. Their success has landed them a spot close to home for the 2nd and 3rd rounds, as they will play in Session 2 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. With nearby Kansas State also playing in this session, the local Midwestern flair has boosted ticket prices to an average of $224.07, second highest of any sessions in the Round of 64. Tickets across the board in the Midwest are pretty high, with North Carolina locals Duke University playing in Session 1 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, and Michigan playing in Session 2 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in nearby Milwaukee. Tickets for these sessions average $183.24 and $187.00, respectively. This is by far the highest price region of the 2nd and 3rd rounds, as the least expensive session, which is Session 2 at the Amway Center in Orlando, still boasts an average secondary market ticket price of $174.15.
For many college basketball fans around the country, the first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament is a wonderful opportunity to take in some of the most exciting playoff basketball around at pretty reasonable prices. Tickets for rounds 2 and 3 across the entire tournament currently average $145.88, reflecting a decline of 14.31% over the past day as the market has begun to retract in the hours leading up to the tournament. This stands in stark contrast to the Final Four tickets in Dallas, as Semifinals prices have actually risen .31% to an average of $639.15, and championship game tickets have declined only slightly to an average of $614.68. Sixty teams won’t make it to Dallas, but currently all 64 have a shot (although history has not been kind to 16 seeds). As such, now is the time to catch your squad in tournament play while you still can.
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