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With eight teams expected to make the NCAA Tournament field, the Big East has proven this season that it is still a conference to be reckoned with. As the final Big East Conference Tournament tiped off yesterday, top seeds and regional preferences for the NCAA tournament are most certainly on the line yet again for the teams of this power conference.Whether it is nostalgia for the last Big East tourney ever, or just the intrigue of this year’s matchups, Big East Tournament tickets check in at a three-year high of $243 dollars according to TiqIQ. This reflects a 17% rise over last year’s average ticket price of $207 dollars. In 2011, the Big East Tournament average ticket price was in at $220 dollars, as tournament most outstanding player Kemba Walker led the University of Connecticut to a conference championship. Kemba and the Huskies would not look back from their Big East conquest, as they marched all the way to cut down the nets on a historic run that saw them win 11 consecutive elimination games.
But while the average conference tournament ticket price may be at a three-year high, prices for later rounds reflect a decline for the second consecutive year. This may be due partly to the parity of this year’s tournament, with no team’s fan base so confident as of yet to secure tickets to the semis or finals.
- · Semifinals Average: $354 (-20% from 2011, -5% from 2012)
- · Semifinals Get-in: $100
- · Finals Average: $201 (-19% since 2011, -1% from 2012)
- · Finals Get-in: $70
The Big East Conference Tournament has historically been one of the most exciting conference tournaments in NCAA basketball, with no shortage of history. Perhaps the most underrated team in the country, the Georgetown Hoyas sit in the one seed for this year’s tournament. Although the Hoyas have experienced a good deal of success in the conference tournament in the past few seasons, they are perhaps best remembered for an 11-season conference championship game appearance drought following their loss in the 1996 finals, when eventual first overall pick Allen Iverson led them into Ray Allen’s UConn Huskies in one of the most memorable conference championship games of all time.
Facing a 13-point deficit in the final four minutes, the Huskies put together a 12-0 run to cut into the Hoyas lead. Iverson and Allen, two of the preeminent scorers in college basketball that season, were playing ferocious defence on each other all night. Allen held Iverson to just 13 points on 4 of 15 shooting, while Iverson had kept Allen in check to the tune of 15 points on 4 of 19 shooting up until the very final few seconds.
Trailing by two, Allen sliced across the top of the key to the right elbow and leaned into Iverson. Looking for a foul but hearing no whistle, Allen flipped up a contorted right handed floater that would make Cirque Du Soleil look like child’s play. As the clock hit 13 seconds, the ball caught iron and dropped through to give UConn a 75-74 lead. The score would hold, as Iverson launched a desperate free throw line fade away that clanked off the rim, and UConn truly announced their presence as one of the marquee programs in the country. Georgetown looks to have better luck this season, as UConn sits at home.
Another underrated team in this year’s tournament is the 5-seed Syracuse Orange. Ranked top 10 for much of the season, the Orange have struggled of late and find themselves with just a single bye as opposed to the sought-after double bye. Back in 2009 however, the Orange rode a single by from the 6-seed all the way to the conference championship game, on the heels of the second longest game in NCAA history when they took UConn to a whopping six overtimes before pulling away, 127-117.
And then of course, there are the two seed Louisville Cardinals. Led by star point guard Peyton Siva, last season’s most outstanding player of the tournament, Louisville looks to defend their conference crown won from the seven seed last season.
Joining current conference favourites, Louisville, with double byes into the conference tournament semis are Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Marquette. While all four teams are expected to obtain top five seeds in their respective regions come Selection Sunday, it appears that Louisville and Georgetown have the inside track to a quite favourable venue draw in their respective regions according to ESPN.com’s current Bracketology predictions.
Although Louisville is currently slated for the one seed in the South region and will likely play the first two rounds in Lexington, KY, it is actually Georgetown that may end up in the more beneficial bracket. If Georgetown lives up to expectations in the conference tourney, they can be well expected to snag the two seed in the Midwest region. This would mean that they would play their first two games in nearby Philadelphia, before travelling home to Washington D.C. for the regionals.
Interestingly enough, Hoya fans may be better served by holding off on Big East Conference Tournament tickets, and simply waiting for the big dance. Philadelphia 2nd/3rd round average ticket prices check in at $243, markedly lower than historic conference semifinal prices, and closer in proximity to Georgetown’s campus than Madison Square Garden where the Big East Tournament is held. If the Hoyas are lucky enough to conquer Philadelphia and head back home to D.C., fans can stay home and score tickets to the DC regional for an average price of $394 dollars.
If the stars align for the Hoyas as well as the Bracketologists currently predict, they may very well make a nice sleeper pick to ride a modified home court advantage all the way to the Final Four.
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