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If you’re in Louisville on Thursday and aren’t busy during normal work hours, you might want to catch a game at the KFC Yum Center. List prices for a pair of early round NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament games are available now starting at about the price of a latte—and cheaper than the cost of a beer inside the arena.
As of Tuesday, the starting price for tickets to two afternoon matchups (Iowa State vs. UAB, followed by SMU vs. UCLA) was just $5 on secondary market sales sites such as TiqIQ. By Wednesday morning, the cheapest tickets were down to $4, and hundreds of seats were listed at $15 or less. Over at StubHub, another ticket resale site that includes all fees in list prices, seats at this afternoon session were available for a grand total of $9.25 apiece.
Meanwhile, tickets to Thursday’s evening session in Louisville cost a minimum of $119 as of Wednesday on StubHub, and “All Sessions” passes for all the games in Round 2 and 3 at the KFC Yum Center are averaging over $750. Why, then, are the afternoon tickets so cheap?
Well, for one thing, most people have to work while the afternoon games are taking place. Perhaps more important, the teams in the afternoon session are a long way from their home fan bases. Among the teams playing, Iowa State is the closest to Louisville—roughly 600 miles, or a nine-hour car drive, away.
What’s more, the Thursday night games in Louisville feature the University of Kentucky, the undefeated, overall #1 seed in the tournament and a team that happens to play its home games less than 90 minutes’ drive away and draws legions of passionate fans from all over the state. What we have here is simply supply and demand in action.
Similarly, the second cheapest tournament ticket available right now is also a Thursday afternoon session. According to TiqIQ, tickets to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena for the two early Thursday matchups of Baylor vs. Georgia St. followed by Xavier vs. Ole Miss were starting at $13 this week, while the average list price was $55.
Bear in mind that the brilliance of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is that you never know which games will be the most exciting. There are always some upsets and last-second drama in the opening rounds, and neither the price of tickets nor the size of the schools involved is an indication of which matchups will pack the most thrills. In other words, a ticket for $5 or $10 may wind up being even more of a bargain than you think.