OT: Purchasing March Madness tickets

Submitted by MGoChippewa on January 2nd, 2019 at 11:49 AM

Asking for help from people who have purchased March Madness tickets before. Jacksonville will be hosting a set of the 1st and 2nd round games this year and I'm looking to buy tickets.

My question is, is this the type of thing where timing matters for price? Maybe Seth can pitch in with his Ticket Watch expertise or anyone who has experience, suggestions are appreciated. Essentially looking to figure out if I should buy now or hold off until closer to the event. Thanks in advance!



January 2nd, 2019 at 12:14 PM ^

No way to tell without knowing who is playing. 

If a team that travels well is sent there, that is one thing.

If not, obviously, lower demand.

When UM was at the Palace in 2013, tickets were not a problem.
Though, this year's team is drawing MUCH better.


January 2nd, 2019 at 3:07 PM ^

Tickets may not have been a problem for the first round (Thursday games) but M and MSU played back-to-back on Saturday in the second round and it was packed.  Pretty sure that was a tough ticket but could be wrong about that since I got my tickets from a family member.

Agree that it does depend entirely on who is sent to that particular location, but there are ways to get clues as who that might be, or at least whether the local teams have a chance to be put there.

Florida and FSU are borderline protected seeds right now.  Respectively, they sit at 16th and 17th in kenpom (predictive) and 32nd and 23rd in NET (featured by the committee), respectively.

It's pretty close, but I would bet neither team gets a top 4 seed.  In which case, you're looking at out-of-market teams being sent to J-ville.

Kansas (Des Moines or Tulsa) and Duke (Columbia, SC) are likely to get 1 seeds and be sent closer to home (even with 2 seeds they'd probably end up closer than J-ville, so the primary blue blood you'd maybe be concerned with is North Carolina being sent to J-ville and even if they were sent there, I'm not sure that'd be enough to spur sell-outs.

Assuming tickets are selling for around face value right now, my advice would definitely be to wait and count on tickets being sold for cheap the week of - especially for the first session on Thursday.  Maybe if one of the Florida teams surges then re-evaluate.


January 2nd, 2019 at 12:43 PM ^

I had always believed that prior to the bracket unveiling prices would be at their lowest. Once the brackets came out those fanbases would increase the demand for the tickets, thus raising the prices. 

Last year Staples Center hosted the sweet 16/elite 8 games. I decided to buy about two dozen tickets for both sessions before selection Sunday. Partly as an investment, partly because I was planning to go to both sessions regardless of the teams. The investment portion of the plan required that big/traveling fanbases were selected for the West region. I was hoping for Kansas, Arizona, Gonzaga, etc. 

Xavier was selected as the #1 seed which was the worst possible team for my investment plan. But Gonzaga, UNC, and Michigan rounded out the top 4. Of course the sweet 16 ended up Michigan, Gonzaga, FSU, and A&M. I was obviously thrilled as a Michigan fan getting to see both those great games. But from a ticket sales standpoint I lost my ass. 

This was a long post to answer a simple question. My advice would be to buy just the first round ticket only, prior to the brackets. Wait to buy second round tickets as there will be two fanbases looking to dump their tickets after their teams lose in the first round.


January 2nd, 2019 at 12:44 PM ^

Id get them sooner rather than later..Once the field is announced the tkts get more scarce..If there is a team say Florida for example that plays there then it gets real tight..Having said that tickets the day of are usually available ...In 1993 after Michigan beat Kentucky in the Final Four I decided to drive to New Orleans...6 hr drive...I got their early in the morning and went right to the Superdome..I found a KY fan selling their tkts and bought 2 for the title for about 100 each AND they were front and center court..Watched Chris Webber call the Time out right in front of me...In 2013 in Atlanta ( I live in Atlanta) I had no trouble finding tickets and after we beat Syracuse their fans unloaded their tickets so I got Title game tkts again pretty cheap..It just depends on whether you dont want the hassel of scroruging for tickets at the last minute ..Ive never had any real trouble finding them with exception of the 92 Regional final btw M and Ohio St...that was a tough ticket but I got them and it was one of THE most exciting tourney game Ive ever witnesses...OT game that we pulled out an the crowd was electric...The other thing that happens is fans of a team say Kentucky THINK they are going to one site so they snap up tickets ahead of time THEN they end up going somewhere else so those tickets then flood the market

Kilgore Trout

January 2nd, 2019 at 12:58 PM ^

Like everyone else said, it depends. Looking at some of the mock brackets, it looks like some relatively local teams (Florida State, Auburn, Mississippi State) are projected to be in Jacksonville, so that will add to demand. My guess is that as long as you don't get FSU, Duke, or UNC prices will drop in the few days before the game. 

One thing to keep in mind (assuming it hasn't changed since last year) is that electronically selling NCAA tickets is next to impossible. You have to actually mail your physical ticket to someone which changes the timing of things unless you are close enough to drop them off at the stub hub quick service pop up that will be near the arena. 


January 2nd, 2019 at 1:52 PM ^

Geesh, just saw the closest 1st round site is in Columbus.   If we play there our opponents will be sure to get alot of extra truck driver fans.


January 2nd, 2019 at 2:05 PM ^

Every year I buy and usually sell most of my NCAA Tournament tickets in an effort to get good seats to see Michigan or make money on what I think might be a desirable location. The key is to know which locations are desirable and which locations are not and that changes from year to year. What makes a location desirable is how many "good" teams could be placed at that location. It is more complicated than you think. For instance, 1st/2nd round sites always do better than regional sites in terms of making money. 8 teams are at a 1st/2nd round site, whereas only 4 at a regional site.  Resulting in as many as 6 or 7 teams within 500 miles of the 1st/2nd round site, whereas typically only 1-2 teams are within 500 miles of the regional site.  The only regional site that I have ever made money on was Indianapolis in 2014 and that was pure luck as Michigan, Kentucky, Louisville and Tennessee were the 4 teams and all within 400 miles of the location. I have since stopped buying regional sites.  As for this year, I bought Columbus (because I think Michigan will be there) and I bought Spartanburg, SC because I think Duke and North Carolina will both be placed there.  IME, only about 5 teams really move the needle and they are Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana.  Other teams that draw well locally are Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Tennessee (think state schools with large fan bases that are placed in close proximity in a large city).

All that said, it comes down to who do you think will be placed in Jacksonville.  And what you have to do is project from the top down, because that is how the committe will do it.  They will take the tournament on the whole, seed it 1-68 and then work from the top down to place teams in a "geographically fit" location.  The key is 500 miles.  The NCAA has to pay for travel if a team is placed more than 500 miles from their respective campus.  

My take is that Columbus and Spartanburg will be money makers.  Salt Lake City and San Jose and will be money losers.  Des Moines, Tulsa, Hartford and Jacksonsville will be toss ups.  Wherever Kansas lands will determine the Des Moines/Tulsa coin flip.  The thing about Jacksonville is that if Virginia stays on the 1 line, they will either be in Columbus or Spartanburg and could potentially bump North Carolina down to Jacksonville AND if North Carolina is a 3 seed and Kentucky is a 6 seed, look out, prices will sky rocket.  


January 2nd, 2019 at 3:37 PM ^

This is great analysis and I completely agree that C-bus and SC are no brainer money makers.

And agree that UNC and UK are the wild cards for J-ville. 

UNC has a very good chance of being placed there, IMO, for the reasons you mention: they're not likely to beat out two of Duke/UVA/Tennessee for SC, but they're still within 500 miles of J-ville.

UK probably won't be in J-ville.  They're not within 500 miles of J-ville so they're just as likely to be sent to San Jose or any other city (except C-bus where they probably won't be unless they can beat out two of Tennessee, M and MSU).


January 2nd, 2019 at 3:09 PM ^

I wouldn’t buy tickets this early because you don’t have a clue where Michigan will end up and who will be playing in Jacksonville. Those games could be sellouts if FSU or Tennessee get there but there is also a chance the arena will be half empty if no local team ends up there