March Madness: Ranking The Sweet 16 Matchups

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The first couple rounds of the NCAA Tournament is almost bulletproof. With so many games, and now the ability to actually see all of them, rarely do we come away disappointed with the first weekend of games.

We get upsets, we get buzzer beaters, we get Greg Gumbel butchering interviews. With so many games, all of those are virtual certainties.

The Sweet 16 is trickier, though. Do the first weekend upsets leave us with a slew of ho hum match ups? Did the committee's poor job in seeding teams catch up with them?

Well, I would say that in 2014, the basketball gods have smiled on us, for the Sweet 16 this season is the perfect mix of upstarts, dark horses, blue bloods, and geography.

To wit, how about the ticket prices? This from Forbes:

While Madison Square Garden never had a chance to host Syracuse this tournament, their former Big East-rival UConn did make it back to their former home-away-from-home, and that has been plenty to send prices soaring. Prices for the Friday night session are up 60% since UConn advanced with their win over Villanova. Just a Metro North-ride away from Manhattan, it seems both alum and students are doing whatever they can to get their hands on the first NCAA Tournament tickets at the Garden in 53 years. They're also hoping to relive some of the magic that Ray Allen and Kemba Walker used to show on the Garden hardwood.

As for the other rounds, the West regional has stayed closest to form, with three of the top Four seeds still alive. Aside from Baylor blowing out Creighton by 30, there haven't been any baffling box scores from the early rounds. Most expected to see Arizona and San Diego State in Anaheim and ticket demand shows that locals are willing to pay and fans are willing to travel. The Honda Center features the second highest price point at $376 and average resale price has steadily increased since Friday.

The MidWest regional contains without a doubt the most intriguing matchup of the Sweet 16. Two legendary coaches go head to head as John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats take on Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals for an in-state affair as Friday's nightcap at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is less than 200 miles from each campus. Ticket prices have increased 18% since the matchup was set. The current average ticket price is $267, up from $176 on Friday. If Duke hadn't suffered an early exit, a Blue Devils-Michigan bout may have ballooned ticket prices past the Honda Center. While prices are likely to rise in the coming days, they still won't catch the next bigget interstate sporting event: Kentucky Derby Tickets. At an average price of just under $1,000, you can still bring a family of four to the regionals for the price of one ticket to the Derby.



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