College Basketball

Here's why March Madness upsets could mean cheaper Final Four tickets

Alexander Bensley, special to
Key Points
  • Prices for March Madness tickets started out at their lowest levels in 4 years, according to TicketIQ data, but have been on the rise.
  • Recent history suggests that when lower-seeded teams advance unexpectedly, Final Four ticket prices drop.
Duke Blue Devils guard Frank Jackson drives in a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on March 10, 2017, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Rich Graessle | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

Hoping to attend an NCAA college basketball game this year? You might be in luck.

A tournament filled with surprising upsets have had the unintended consequences of whipsawing ticket prices, according to ticket sale website TicketIQ, which initially started out at their lowest in 4 years.

The "Sweet 16" round began on Thursday — but without favorites like the University of Virginia and defending champions University of North Carolina, which got sent packing early. The bracket-busting continued, with #9-seeded Florida State defeating #4 seed Gonzaga, #9-seed Kansas State defeating #5 seed Kentucky, and #11-seed Loyola-Chicago defeated #7-seed Nevada. Number 2 Duke managed to break the upset streak on Friday by staving off a resurgent Syracuse, narrowly avoiding being sent home by the number 11 seed.

TicketIQ said that, as of Thursday, fewer seats than normal were available for regional games. That limited availability has boosted prices slightly since the tournament began, with the average price for a regional round ticket being $432, less than last year's $465.

That average price is inflated by Omaha, where regional prices have gone up since the start of the tournament by 34 percent, and average $586. The increase may be attributed to Kansas' close proximity to Omaha, where excited fans are spurring demand and prices.

Boston hosts four teams seeded at #5 or lower, and prices there have fallen by 29 percent to $316. Prices for Atlanta and Los Angeles games haven't budged much.

At the beginning of the tournament, costs to attend the Final Four in San Antonio were the lowest in four years, at $730. The prices have increased to $903, according to TicketIQ's data which includes listings from the Official NCAA Ticket Exchange, all despite the number of upsets.

To be certain, ticket demand and affordability are influenced by a multitude of factors like region and the intensity of a fan base. And despite the number of upsets this year, prices for the Final Four have been on the rise.

However, recent history suggests that fans get less interested — and tickets get comparatively cheaper— when top teams get knocked out.

If the past is any prologue, the number of upsets may prove helpful for fans in search of cheap Final Four tickets. Back in 2011, when lower-seeded teams advancing were fairly common, the ticket price to see the last 4 remaining teams tumbled to $552 — the lowest ever.

Conversely, there weren't nearly as many upsets last year, and fans literally paid the price. Ticket prices skyrocketed by a staggering 83 percent throughout the tournament, which ultimately produced two #1 seeds (North Carolina and Gonzaga) facing off against each other. The Final Four contest produced the most expensive ticket price ever at $1,343, according to TicketIQ.

Nonetheless, fans will have to dig into their pockets for this weekend's games at the very least. If upsets continue, prices may drop.

Or perhaps they won't. Because as March has taught us, anything can happen.