The NCAA abandoned the strict regional approach to sending basketball teams around the country for tournament games in the round of 64 and round of 32 a few years back. The idea behind it was to cut down on travel, thus allowing more high seeds to play close to home.
The basic guideline is simple: earn a top four seed and you may not have to go far from home prior to the Sweet 16.
That reward looks particularly enticing for Michigan and Michigan State with the Palace of Auburn Hills one of the sites set to host second and third round games in 2013.
According to Google Maps, the Michigan State Spartans would face an 81.8 mile bus ride from East Lansing to Auburn Hills while the trip for the Michigan Wolverines from Ann Arbor is just 54.6 miles. So, will it happen?
It will according to Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology projection on ESPN.com. Lunardi has the Wolverines a one seed in the Midwest Region and the Spartans up to a three seed this week in the South Region with both schools being the top seeds in their four-team pod set to play at the Palace.
While there is still a lot of basketball yet to be played, the Spartans and Wolverines will almost assuredly start their tournament runs with games at the Palace as long as they can hold on to their strong seeds.
Alright, it could happen, it might even be likely to happen. What’s a fan to do with this information?
Glad you asked. Tickets for tournament games to be played at the Palace went on sale on October 13. It seems most fans either haven’t yet realized the strong possibility one or both of our local Big Ten teams will be playing there or they are overly cautious and waiting until there is more certainty that the Wolverines and/or Spartans will in fact play at the Palace. According to TicketMaster, there are no tickets available in the lower bowl but ticket strips are available in the upper bowl starting at. Each strip includes a ticket to all three sessions; two on Thursday, March 21 and one on Saturday, March 23. Each session includes two games.
Tickets may not last much longer and once they’re gone the prices are likely to skyrocket on secondary markets like Stub Hub. Marquee games hosted by Michigan are already starting at over $100 each on Stub Hub so you can imagine what prices will be like when the tournament field is officially announced.