(CBS/TiqIQ) – For the second year in a row, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will host the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight for the Midwest Region. Last year’s games featured the top three seeds in the region (Louisville, Duke & Michigan State) and a No. 12 seed (Oregon). This year, Indianapolis will host a No. 2, No. 4, No. 8 and No. 11. Heading into the weekend, Sweet Sixteen tickets for the Midwest Regional were the cheapest of the four, but the past weekend granted Indianapolis with the most intriguing matchup of the Sweet Sixteen.
A game between a No. 4 seed and No. 8 seed would rarely be the most anticipated matchup of a tournament, but Louisville and Kentucky are not your typical 4 and 8 seeds. Defending Champions Louisville beat No. 5 St. Louis on Saturday while Kentucky upset previously undefeated 1-seed Wichita State on Sunday, pitting these two in-state rivals against each other in Indy. Unsurprisingly prices for Midwest regional Sweet 16 tickets went up 4.7% on the secondary market. The average price for the first session, which also includes a game between No. 11 Tennessee and last year’s runner-up, No. 2 Michigan, is $295.75 with a get-in price of $139. The Midwest Regional still trails the East and West regionals in average price of NCAA Tournament tickets across both sessions, which is currently $229.89 and well below the overall Sweet Sixteen average of $418.27. Elite Eight tickets in Indianapolis are an even bigger bargain with an average price of just $187.21 and a get-in price of $47.
Lucas Oil Stadium can hold more than three times the amount of the other arenas hosting regional games this year. The biggest arena of the three, Madison Square Garden, can fit just under 20,000 people at capacity. Meanwhile, about 70,000 people can fit in Lucas Oil Stadium for a basketball game, creating a much greater quantity of tickets and less expensive prices.
In terms of energy and excitement it will be tough to match whatever happens between Louisville and Kentucky. With just a two hour drive from Louisville and a three hour drive from Lexington, it would not be surprising to see Cardinals and WIldcats fans take over the stadium this Friday night. The two teams played each other at the end of December, and that game had an average price that was near $900 for a 73-66 Kentucky win at Rupp Arena. Getting to see this game, along with Michigan vs Tennessee, would be a great relative value for fans of either of those schools. For both Michigan and Tennessee fans, a five hour drive from each location to Indianapolis will likely decrease the amount of people Wolverine and Vols traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium, leaving more room for Wildcat and Cardinals fans.
Having the top three seeds play in the regional helped ticket prices last year, as the average price last year for both sessions was $281.90 and rose steadily in the days leading up to the game. One constant from last year is the presence of Louisville, last year’s No. 1 seed in the Midwest and eventual NCAA champion. The Cardinals will hope the result in Indianapolis can match last year and Louisville fans can start purchasing their Final Four tickets Sunday night.
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