The University of North Carolina put an end to the Saint Peter’s Cinderella story on Sunday night in a blowout and became the last team to punch its ticket to New Orleans for the Final Four of the NCAA men’s tournament. The UNC win sent ticket prices soaring, up 151% from where they were days earlier, according to ticketing platform SeatGeek.
The Final Four features a quartet of blueblood college basketball programs, but it is the matchup of Duke and UNC—who have never met in the NCAA tournament—that triggered the price explosion. The average resale price since the matchup was clinched was $1,181 versus $471 in the prior days, per SeatGeek data. It was $502 before the tournament started.
“Matchups often drive the level of ticket demand for the Final Four,” Chris Leyden, SeatGeek’s director of consumer strategy, said via email. “This year has everything a fan could want: the biggest rivalry in the sport playing for the first time in the tournament, one of the all-time greats potentially coaching his final game, and four of the most successful teams in the sport’s history. It is the type of setup that not only attracts fans of the teams playing, but also draws in even the most casual of college basketball fans.”
The overall average price paid for a ticket is currently $893, but Leyden expects that to increase over the next few days. It would make it the second most in-demand Final Four ever, but No. 1 comes with a caveat. Last year’s $1,474 resale price at Lucas Oil Stadium had a reduced capacity because of the pandemic. The high water mark for a full capacity Final Four was $763 in 2012, also held in New Orleans.
UNC and Duke have met more than 250 times since 1920 but not once during March Madness. Their game earlier this month was expected to be the last time coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will retire at season’s end, faced his longtime rival. The average resale price for that game at Cameron Indoor Stadium was nearly $7,000 and by far the priciest in the history of college basketball. It fell just short of the Super Bowl in February at $7,516.
Final Four prices won’t approach those levels, as Caesars Superdome has eight times the capacity as Coach K’s Cameron home. With 73,000 seats in the building, you can get Final Four nosebleed seats starting around $450, but the cheapest tickets in the sections closest to the court were north of $10,000 apiece Monday afternoon.
Stubhub has more than 2,800 tickets available on its platform. North Carolina residents have been the most active buyers with 11% of tickets sold, followed by New York, New Jersey and California, all at 9%. A company spokesperson says it expects a further increase in demand ahead of Saturday's games, as all four programs have fans who travel well.