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NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament History
There might not be a better sports tournament on earth than the yearly NCAA tourney that has the men and women of college basketball engaging in a single-elimination bracket to crown a champion.
From the opening round upsets, all the way to the Final Four, NCAA Tournament tickets are made nearly priceless due to the emotion, heart and skill going into every game. With the top high school basketball players in the nation no longer being able to skip the college game in order to enter the NBA, the NCAA tournament has benefited immensely from an improved talent pool and more heated competition.
The bracket for the NCAA tourney, also widely known as “March Madness” due to the majority of the tournament taking place in the month of March and containing crazy upsets, is initially formed from the 31 Division I conferences. These 31 conferences receive automatic bids, with the remaining entrants into the tournament being awarded at-large berths.
The intensity of a long, grueling season combined with the pressure of conference tournaments and Selection Sunday (the day of the final selection process), helps to build the excitement of the NCAA Tournament every year, and also offers storylines that mature throughout the tournament, adding to the climax of the tournament, the Final Four.
While widely considered one of the purest championships in sports due to its large amount of upsets and unlikely bids to make the Final Four, the tournament was at one time completely dominated by UCLA (11 championships). Since UCLA’s last NCAA title in 1975, however, the tournament has been relatively wide open on a yearly basis.
The Duke Blue Devils, backed by legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski, or Coach K, have routinely made it into the “Big Dance”. In fact, Coach K’s Duke teams have made it to the NCAA men’s tournament every single year since 1983, save for one - when he coached only 12 games (the team went 9-3) in 1994 before taking the remainder of the season off to rest due to exhaustion and back surgery. On top of willing his teams into the tournament basically every year for the past 30 years, Krzyzewski has had great success in basketball’s most famous tourney, as well. Over the years, Duke has found its way to an incredible 12 Elite Eight appearances, eight national championship games, and has claimed four NCAA titles.
While there are plenty of historic college basketball coaches worth discussing (Bob Knight, John Wooden and many more) that have helped turn the NCAA Tournament into "March Madness", it’s the more recent coaches that come to mind when you think of an ever-changing and always fresh tournament like March Madness. With that in mind, any fan of the NCAA tourney knows to never count out the Michigan State Spartans, who are led by their fiery yet balanced head coach, Tom Izzo.
Izzo has just one NCAA basketball title to his name, but has had fantastic success in the tournament over the years. As Michigan State’s all-time winningest head coach, Izzo has led his Spartans to six Final Four appearances and two college basketball title games. However, of all of his college basketball accolades, the most impressive might be the fact that every four-year player he has coached has had the luxury of appearing in a Final Four under the tutelage of one of the game’s most heralded head coaches.
While coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo get the praise and big schools like Duke and Michigan State get the national spotlight, it’s the little guys that truly make March Madness go, and keep fans buying more NCAA Tournament tickets year in and year out.
Fans who have purchased NCAA Tournament tickets for the men’s field have seen history being made on an almost yearly basis. In terms of upsets, the field has gotten more competitive as the years have gone on, with two #13 seeds reaching the Elite Eight since 2006, three #15 seeds escaping the first round since 2001, and two #11 seeds (George Mason and VCU) reaching the Final Four since 2006. While the more prestigious teams like North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky for men’s basketball lead the way, the NCAA tourney has been and continues to be the stomping grounds for true, unbridled competition.
NCAA Tournament Venue History
NCAA Tournament tickets have been available for avid fans of college basketball since the tournament unleashed an 8-team grouping back in 1939, with the first championship game being played in Evanston, Illinois at Patten Gymnasium. Oregon was college basketball’s first champion, and has ended up playing an unfortunate (but critical) role in showing the tourney’s competitive nature, as they have never claimed another title since then.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams--and then more recently 68--the location for the tournament’s Final Four has rotated every year. In recent years, the Final Four has mostly been played in the South. Four of the next five Final Four’s set to be played in New Orleans, Atlanta, Arlington and Houston. Each year, the tournament starts out by being split into four separate regions, with each region including 16 teams (not counting the “First Four” to fulfill the recently adjusted 68-team field). A committee decides how to arrange the matchups of the seeds into the four regions. The matchups are typically geographic in nature and usually match up with the chosen cities that will be hosting the NCAA games during the regional finals.
While much time and consideration goes into making the brackets and deciding on the regions and locations to sell NCAA Tournament tickets, all sites are chosen as neutral sites heading into the tournament (meaning that if a team were to somehow play a home game, it would be completely by chance), while the actual Final Four venue is generally decided upon years in advance. Despite the location of the venue shifting every year and the games leading up to the Final Four changing cities as well, the value of NCAA Tournament tickets remains high due to elite competition and the constant thrill and possibility of upsets.
If it is upsets you seek, the NCAA tourney is the place for you. Naturally, those who purchase NCAA Tournament tickets expect some big name teams to drop, and Cinderella Teams to make their way far into the tournament. What no one expects, however, is the #1 seed to fall in the first round, as a #16 seed has never made it out of round one. The top overall seeds are a remarkable 112-0 prior to the 2012 NCAA Tournament (100%), while many of those first round games being blowouts. With that said, the tournament can easily get rocky from that point on, as #1 seeds routinely get bounced from the second round on, as the competition quickly stiffens when #8 and #9 seeds get involved. It only makes sense, as the #9 seed actually has upset the #8 seed 48% of the time in NCAA history, and the winner of that battle always faces the #1 team in that region.
While it’s anyone’s guess how the first round or even first several rounds will shape out, ultimately what every NCAA basketball fan wants is an entertaining title game. If fans can’t get their March Madness brackets right, they at least want to see a good title game and a worthy champion raising the trophy when it’s all said and done.
That can arguably be said for recent years, as the NCAA Tournament has seen some classic title battles. One of the best games in recent memory was Duke’s narrow victory over Butler in the 2010 tournament finals. The Blue Devils were a #1 seed and survived a last second half-court heave from NBA-bound swingman Gordon Hayward to beat the Butler Bulldogs 61-59 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The win gave legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski his fourth national championship and gave those who purchased NCAA Tournament tickets that year a crazy ending to one wild ride.
To add to the tournament’s appeal, Butler pushed the “underdog” or “Cinderella” label to the max the following year, when they returned to face the University of Connecticut in the NCAA title game as the #8 seed of their region. They ended up losing for the second straight year, however, this time by the score of 53-41 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Butler isn’t the best feel good story in college basketball, but they’re a perfect example of a Cinderella that can advance further than just about everyone expects. They came within one basket of shocking the world, and even returned the next year for an encore run.
Another NCAA tournament piece of information that is not just a rarity, but basically unheard of during March Madness is a team ending the tourney with an undefeated record. In fact, the last men’s team to do it was Indiana back in 1976. Bob Knight’s Hoosiers entered the tourney at a formidable 27-0, and steam-rolled through the Big Dance to become that year’s champions at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not only did they end the year with an unblemished record and the NCAA basketball title in hand, but they did it against Michigan, a Big-10 rival, making it the first time a NCAA basketball championship had two teams from the same conference facing off for the title.
Indiana being the last team to begin and end the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with an undefeated record is quite an accomplishment. However, they’re far from the only college team achieve this feat. The UCLA Bruins, a long-time NCAA dominating force, managed to go undefeated an unprecedented 4 different times. They did it in back to back seasons in 1972 and 1972, and also did it in 1964 and 1967. The only other two teams to finish a season with an unblemished record are North Carolina (1957) and San Francisco (1956).
On the flip-side, March Madness has seen teams come extremely close to obtaining perfection. Unfortunately, Ohio State fell short in the NCAA title game in 1961 with a loss to Cincinnati, while Larry Bird’s Indiana State lost their only game of the 1979 season to Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans. North Carolina State is actually the only other NCAA team to end the year undefeated, but they didn’t get to play in the tournament due to probation.
March Madness News
3-15-16: March Madness is officially upon us, and the 2016 NCAA Tournament kicks off tonight with the First Four matchups in Dayton, OH. Over the first and second rounds, which will run between Thursday and Sunday, Barclays Center in Brooklyn will own the most expensive All Sessions pass at an average price of $750.43 ($173 get-in) on the secondary market. Those passes will grant access to all games held there during the first two rounds of play. Among schools set to play in the East regional games in Brooklyn are #2 Xavier and #3 West Virginia as well as South regional schools in #2 Villanova and #7 Iowa. Other top-priced venues during the first and second rounds include the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, where the average resale price for an All Sessions pass is $707.33 ($275 get-in). East and Midwest teams will descend upon PNC Arena through the weekend, including #1 UNC and #8 USC out of the East and #1 Virginia and #8 Texas Tech out of the Midwest.
Conversely, the cheapest All Session Pass during the first and second round comes at Chesapeake Energy Center Oklahoma City, where tickets average $419.14 and the cheapest pass is $230. West Regional teams set to play there include #3 Texas A&M and #6 Texas as well as West regional teams #2 Oklahoma and #7 Oklahoma State.
Expect to pay bigger prices for 2016 NCAA Tournament tickets as the tournament stretches into Houston for the Final Four. As it stands now, an All Sessions Pass to the Final Four, which includes access to both games at NRG Stadium on April 2, owns a secondary market average of $1,384.59. The cheapest pass is listed for $300.
Below is the entire tournament bracket situated by region:
Venues: PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, Pepsi Center in Denver, CO, Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO.
2 Michigan State
4 Iowa State
6 Seton Hall
8 Texas Tech
12 Little Rock
14 Fresno State
Venues: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, WA, Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI, Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK.
3 Texas A&M
7 Oregon State
8 Saint Joseph's
14 Green Bay
15 CSU Bakersfield
16 TBD (FGCU/Fairleigh D'son)
Venues: PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO.
1 North Carolina
3 West Virginia
6 Notre Dame
11 TBD (Michigan/Tulsa)
13 Stony Brook
14 Stephen F. Austin
15 Weber State
16 TBD (Holy Cross/Southern University)
Venues: Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA, Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, WA, Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
11 TBD (Vanderbilt/Wichita State)
12 South Dakota State
15 UNC Asheville
16 Austin Peay
4-1-15: The nation’s four best schools will compete for a spot in this year’s championship game on Saturday when the Final Four tips off at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. NCAA Tournament tickets on TicketIQ are setting historical new price highs as well, with both Final Four tickets and national championship game tickets the most expensive since at least 2011. Following Saturday’s Final Four games, the national championship game will be played on Monday night.
3-31-15: The NCAA Tournament has reached its penultimate round, and the Final Four will tip off at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this Saturday. Duke and Michigan State will play in the earlier game and precede Kentucky vs Wisconsin, which is being deemed as the tournament’s most anticipated game this season. Tickets on TicketIQ are setting new records in 2015, too, with Final Four tickets averaging above $1,100 on the secondary market - the most expensive since at least 2011. The average secondary price for NCAA Tournament championship game tickets is currently $761.74 and the get-in price starts at $205.
3-24-15: The 2015 NCAA Tournament has reached the Sweet 16 Round, and eight games will be held on Thursday and Friday to determine this year’s Elite Eight. With four venues hosting each region of the tournament, the average price for Sweet 16 tickets across its eight games this week is $580.90. The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, NRG Stadium in Houston and Staples Center in Los Angeles will all be hosting sites for this year’s Sweet 16 games.
3-23-15: Following a whirlwind opening week, the 2015 NCAA Tournament will now welcome the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight Rounds over the next seven days. Competition continues to increase as Kentucky continues its pursuit of perfection and several unexpected teams are still dancing. The action tips off over four venues this week, including the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NRG Stadium in Houston and Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In the Midwest, Notre Dame takes on Wichita State while Kentucky faces West Virginia on Thursday. Thursday will also welcome West region games between Wisconsin and North Carolina and Xavier and Arizona. On Friday, the East will see NC State play Louisville and Oklahoma battle Michigan State. Duke takes on Utah and UCLA plays Gonzaga in the South region Friday night. Winners of each game will advance to the Elite Eight, which will be played on Saturday and Sunday.
3-20-15: The NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 continues today with 16 games across the country. Following several upsets during the first day of the Second Round, UAB and Georgia State continue on after beating Iowa State and Baylor respectively, and today will welcome pivotal matchups between Georgia and Michigan State, SDSU and St. John’s, Wichita State and Indiana, and Oregon and Oklahoma State.
In the Southern Regional, top-seeded Duke will take on No. 16 Robert Morris tonight at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. The Western Regional will see No. 1 Wisconsin battle No. 16 Coastal Carolina at the CenturyLink Center Omaha. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:20pm CDT.
Third Round play begins tomorrow afternoon and will wrap on Sunday night.
3-16-15: The 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament bracket is set. See the entire seeding below:
Venues: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY, Nationwide Arena in Columbus OH, Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA, CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE, and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH.
3 Notre Dame
5 West Virginia
7 Wichita State
15 New Mexico State
Venues: Moda Center in Portland, OR, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL, CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE, and Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
4 North Carolina
9 Oklahoma State
10 Ohio State
11 BYU/Ole Miss
14 Georgia State
15 Texas Southern
16 Coastal Carolina
Venues: Consol Energy Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, Key Arena in Seattle, WA, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH, Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC and Carrier Dome In Syracuse, NY.
5 Northern Iowa
7 Michigan State
8 North Carolina State
11 Boise State/Dayton
13 UC Irvine
Venues: Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC, Moda Center in Portland, OR, KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY, Key Arena in Seattle, WA and NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.
3 Iowa State
8 San Diego State
9 St. John’s
12 Stephen F. Austin
13 Eastern Washington
15 North Dakota State
16 North Florida/Robert Morris
4-1-14: While the Men's Final Four is now set, there's still 2 teams to be determined in the women's tournament. The Men's will see Florida, UConn, Kentucky, and Wisconsin battle it out for the men's title, while Notre Dame and Uconn Lady Huskies await the winners of UNC/Stanford and Maryland/Louisville on the women's side.
3-28-14: Last night's Sweet 16 action saw Dayton continue their Cinderella run by defeating Stanford 82-72. Florida beat UCLA 79-68. Out west, Arizona passed by San Diego State 70-64, and Wisconsin blew out Baylor 69-52. Tonight's action comes from Madison Square Garden in New York and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
3-27-14: The first batch of Sweet 16 games tip off tonight with both the South Regionals and West Regionals in action. In the south, Dayton takes on Stanford and UCLA take on Florida at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Out west, Baylor faces Wisconsin followed by San Diego State vs Arizona at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.
3-26-14: With the Dayton vs Stanford
matchup, ticket prices for the south regional at the Fedex Forum continue to plummet. Average ticket price for the region is currently $74.94 – the cheapest regional average of the past 3 years. You can get in to Session 1 for as low as $20 and Session 2 for as low as $10.
3-25-14: The overall average price of 2014 NCAA Tournament tickets have fallen $26 in the past 24 hours. The West regional saw the biggest 24 hour decrease, going from $377 to $258. The south regional is still by far the cheapest of the 4 regions – averaging $96 per ticket, a $42 in the past 24 hours.
3-24-14: With rounds 2 & 3 completed over the weekend, the Sweet 16 is finally set. The South Regional features Florida vs UCLA and Dayton vs Stanford. The West regional is Arizona vs San Diego State and Baylor vs Wisconsin. East is Virginia vs Michigan State and Iowa State vs Connecticut. The Midwest features Tennessee vs Michigan and Kentucky vs Louisville.
3-21-14: Mercer pulled off one of the biggest upsets of Round 2 action during the NCAA tournament earlier today. They defeated Duke 78-71. Jakob Gollon led the way for the Bears with 20 points and 5 rebounds. The Duke Blue Devils saw both Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon go for 20 or more during the loss.
3-20-14: NCAA Tournament action from March 19th: Cal Poly defeated Texas Southern 81-69 and Tennessee took down the Iowa Hawkeyes 78-65 to complete the first four. Cal Poly goes on to face the 34-0 Wichita State Shockers tomorrow in St. Louis while the Vols will face UMass tomorrow at PNC Arena.
3-19-14: Yesterday's first day of action saw the first four kick off in Dayton, Ohio. Albany beat Mount Saint Mary's 71-64 and NC State beat Xavier 74-59. Albany will move on to face Florida tomorrow in Orlando. NC State will also travel to Orlando to face Saint Louis. Tonight's action includes Cal Poly vs Texas Southern and Iowa vs Tennessee.
|Madison Square Garden
||Sweet 16/Elite 8
||Sweet 16/Elite 8
|University Of Dayton Arena
||Sweet 16/Elite 8
||Rounds 2 & 3
||Rounds 2 & 3
|First Niagra Center
||Rounds 2 & 3
|BMO Harris Bradley Center
||Rounds 2 & 3
|Viejas Arena At Aztec Bowl
||Rounds 2 & 3
|Lucas Oil Stadium
||Sweet 16/Elite 8
||Rounds 2 & 3
||Rounds 2 & 3
||Rounds 2 & 3
3-18-14: The NCAA tournament kicks off today with Albany vs Mount St Mary's and North Carolina State vs Xavier for the First round. Average ticket price for tonight's session is currently $165 with the cheapest available ticket at $95. Tomorrow's session carries an average asking price of $111 with only 10 tickets currently listed on the market.
3-17-14: The official bracket for the NCAA Tournament was released yesterday. The action starts with the first four play-in game at the University of Dayton Arena tomorrow. They are Albany vs Mount Saint Mary's, Cal Poly vs Texas Southern, NC State vs Xavier, and Iowa vs Tennessee. An all-session strip averages $189 on the resale market.
3-16-14: Here's is an updated price chart for all tournament rounds:
|Final Four All Session
|Final Four Semis
3-16-14: Today is selection Sunday and we will find out the entire 68-team NCAA Tournament field. Here are the team’s that have already made the big dance:
Louisville Cardinals, Albany Great Danes, Mecer Bears, Iowa State Cyclones, Providence Friars, Weber State Wildcats, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Cal Poly Mustangs, Delaware Fightin Blue Hens, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Milwaukee Panthers, Harvard Crimson, Manhattan Jaspers, Western Michigan Broncos, North Carolina Central Eagles, Wichita State Shockers, New Mexico Lobos, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Eastern Kentucky Colonels, UCLA Bruins, American Eagles, Wofford Terriers, Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, Texas Southern Tigers, North Dakota State Bison, Gonzaga Bulldogs, and New Mexico State Aggies.
3-14-14: The ACC is in the process of finalizing a deal that will move it's annual tournament to the Barclay's Center. The deal is said to go into effect as early as 2017. The move would likely draw massive amounts of Syracuse Orange fans. The ACC tournament is currently played in Greensboro, North Carolina.
3-13-14: Below is a breakdown of secondary market ticket prices for this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
|Final Four All Session
|Final Four Semis
3-13-14: Villanova's loss in the Big East tournament is surely to affect them in their placement in the NCAA tournament. Some experts, including Joe Lunardi at ESPN's Bracketology had predicted Nova at number 1 in the East region. It'll be interesting to see how a loss to Seton Hall will affect that ranking tomorrow.
3-12-14: Results from March 11th: Mount St Mary's defeated Robert Morris 88-71 in the finals of the Northeast Conference tournament. North Dakota State narrowly escaped IPFW 6-57 en rout to the Summit League title. Gonzaga held off BYU for the West Coast Conference title, and Milwaukee defeated Wright State in the finals of the Horizon League championship.