NCAA March Madness ticket flurry bumped up by early bracket selections

Whether undefeated Gonzaga or any other bulldogs make or break your NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets this year remains to be seen. But this is clear: With matchups due to be sketched out sooner than ever, fans have caught an early case of March Madness, according to ticket-pricing sources.

“We’re seeing a lot of early interest from fans for the NCAA tournament with organic search traffic up 49% year-over-year for Final Four ticket-related keywords,” said Marita Hudson Thomas, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Vivid Seats.

The pricing and volume snapshot hits one day before the NCAA Selection Committee takes its first ever in-season look at the country’s Top 16 teams. CBS Sports CBS, +0.03% and Turner Sports will present the NCAA March Madness bracket preview Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

Over the past four years, the cost for fans to attend every game played by the championship-winning team—it was Villanova in 2016—throughout the tournament averaged $ 1,405.

The average sold price on NCAA championship tickets from 2012-16 was $ 290, the lowest of all major sporting events included in a Vivid Seats study.

Read: Cubs, ‘Hamilton,’ Amy Schumer: 2016’s hottest tickets ranked

And so far for 2017, fans using the site have paid an average of $ 295 for tickets to just first- and second-round games. Salt Lake City is the most popular first- and second-round site. According to early bracket handicapping, Salt Lake City would host Gonzaga—the team projected to be the No. 1 seed in the West region.

An early look at the average ticket prices and most popular NCAA men’s basketball tournament games.

BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., is the cheapest first- and second-round site at $ 195, based on the minimum price of tickets currently listed.

Deeper into the tournament, fans have been willing to pay an average of $ 434 for tickets to regional-round games, with Madison Square Garden in New York the most popular site for this round, representing 43% of tickets sold to regional games. FedEx Forum in Memphis is the cheapest regional site at $ 260, based on the minimum price of tickets currently listed.

The average cost to attend two Final Four games and a national championship game is $ 800. The average cost for fans to attend both semifinal games is $ 475, and the average cost for fans to attend the national championship game only is $ 425.

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