The calendar reads March, which means we’re talking about Madness here. But how to watch the games? Instead of dodging prying office eyes and wearing a groove into the official March Madness web site’s Boss Button, how about scoring tickets to a game? Sound farfetched? Sound expensive? You might be surprised. While tickets to the Final Four (taking place this year in Phoenix, April 1-3) always command exorbitant prices, it’s the early-round games that provide your best chance to catch some Cinderella action — if not exactly up-close, at the very least live and in-person.
First- and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament always take place in a host of great, smaller American cities — midsize gems with proportionally sized arenas in burgeoning downtowns, often with great local venues, foodie and craft beer scenes. This year’s early-round games are scheduled in places like Salt Lake City and Greenville, South Carolina, providing fans with the opportunity to score decent-priced tickets and maybe even a great travel package from a site such as TripAdvisor.
Still, individual game tickets are not cheap — and according to broker TickPick, prices are adjusted accordingly depending on the matchup. If you want to see games featuring Blue Devils, Tar Heels, or any number of Wildcats, it’s probably going to cost you a bundle. But the average ticket price for the first-round matchups in Tulsa, including national powerhouse Kansas, is only about $125, while for the Thursday and Friday games in Orlando, the average is only about $140. Factor in that TripAdvisor is chock-full of packages to a resort city like Orlando, and it’s certainly a doable weekend. First-round games in Sacramento, Buffalo, and Milwaukee are also reasonably priced, averaging about $200. Meanwhile, the average ticket price for the first-round games in Indianapolis (including fan favorite Kentucky) are technically sold out — although brokers seem to have plenty and they’re fetching well over $300 a pop.
Any number of brokers, including StubHub and the aforementioned TickPick, are offering game tickets, but try the links above for official NCAA ticket outlets. Good luck, and enjoy the Madness..