Prices rising for MSG's first NCAA Tourney games in 53 years

There are a few people interested in seeing Connecticut on Friday. (USATSI)

The hottest ticket in college basketball this weekend won't be Kentucky-Louisville. For as rightfully hyped as that game will be, it's taking place in spacious Lucas Oil Stadium.

It'll be a tough ticket, but there are plenty to go around.

At Madison Square Garden? Not so much. The World's Most Famous Arena is hosting its first NCAA Tournament game in more than five decades. That's hype enough. Toss only 20,000 seats for a national team like Michigan State; a fanbase known for its ability to travel in hordes, Iowa State; and of course UConn, which has a massive alumni faction already implanted in New York City, and of course the prices are going to be outrageous.

And they're rising by the hour.

According to Vivid Seats' most recent report on Tuesday afternoon, tickets for Friday night's semifinals "have the highest median ticket prices of the four regionals, and by a significant margin."

The secondary market is placing the average ticket at $500. The West is at $352. The Midwest is $245. The South, which has Florida, UCLA, Dayton and Stanford, averages $94 per ducat.

One fan is so desperate to go, they're offering up 20 tickets to 10 Yankees games on Craiglist in exchange for Friday night at MSG. Here's how each of the regions overall -- including Saturday/Sunday finals games -- are shaking out. Via Vivid Seats:

Check StuHub and you won't find anything under $460.

What's the biggest reason? Connecticut in the Garden. That sentence evokes memories of Kemba and Ray, saintly singular names to Huskies nation. 

Thanks to the awful conference-realignment gods, Connecticut no longer gets to play at Madison Square Garden, and instead partakes in the American Athletic Conference tournament at the hallowed FedEx Forum in Tennessee.

But when the brackets came out on Selection Sunday, there was a chance that history could be revisited. Lo and behold, No. 7 Connecticut upset No. 2 Villanova 77-65 in the Round of 32 and the Huskies will continue their Tournament two-step in New York City -- their home away from home.

And given that this is probably the last time Connecticut will make a trip to the Garden in the next few seasons, their fans have consequently ambushed the ticket supply and driven prices through the roof.

For more scope, according to TiqIQ, the average price for a full strip of tickets, which gets entry to both games on Friday and the Elite Eight game on Sunday – was going for $969.57 on Monday. The cheapest was $386. Connecticut fans have driven the prices to record numbers, likely to the displeasure of fans from Iowa State, Michigan State and Virginia. Those prices are believed to be the most expensive of any regional since 2011. 

The West regional, for the same set of tickets, was going for $589, while the Midwest, which features Kentucky vs. Louisville, was going for an average of $510.

Fans, students and alums appear to be clamoring for Friday night tickets to see Connecticut take on Iowa State. Why not? It has been only 53 years since the Garden has played host to the Big Dance.

-- Matt Norlander contributed to this story

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