Videos by OutKick
HOUSTON – One could almost see the wheels turning in Miami coach Jim Larranaga’s head when asked about ruining the Final Four from a local and regional basis.
“I’d rather not say,” he said Friday while on the way to other interviews. But he was smiling. And that said it all.
His No. 5 seed Hurricanes last Friday upset the No. 1 seed University of Houston, which is located five miles from NRG Stadium, site of the Final Four Saturday night here.
Then last Sunday, Miami team knocked off No. 2 seed and state flagship institution Texas, which is 164 miles west of Houston. The University of Miami is 1,200 miles away.
Now, the closest team to Houston in the Final Four is No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton – “only” 1,152 miles away. No. 5 seed San Diego State is 1,467 miles the other way. It beat No. 1 overall seed Alabama – 624 miles northeast in Tuscaloosa – last Friday.
And No. 4 seed University of Connecticut in Storrs is the outlier at 1,771 miles northeast, but also the lone blue blood brand to make it. The Huskies have won four national titles since 1999 and is in their sixth Final Four. The other three are first timers.
Final Four Has 3 Off Brands
“This is a very unconventional, non-traditional Final Four,” Larranaga said Friday. “I don’t think anybody’s bracket had the three of us.”
Yeah, thanks Jim. And the ticket brokers and private salesmen thank you as well.
NRG Stadium (capacity 71,000) has long been sold out, and it is expected to be full or close to it when Florida Atlantic (35-3) and San Diego State (31-6) tip at 6:09 p.m. and when UConn (29-8) and Miami (29-7) start at 8:49 p.m.
But the resale value of the tickets have plummeted since Houston and Texas left the party.
As of Friday, tickets could be purchased for $40 via StubHub. That is a 20 percent price fall compared to the cheapest tickets last year in New Orleans when the Superdome hosted a Mardi Gras parade of blue bloods. Duke played North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Kansas beat Villanova and then UNC for the title.
“If you’re expecting all four No. 1 seeds to be at the Final Four every year, it doesn’t work that way,” Larranaga said.
But couldn’t there be just one from relatively close by. Houston would have even taken No. 3 seed Kansas State – 740 miles away. But the Wildcats lost to Florida Atlantic on Sunday.
Before Houston lost, the cheapest tickets on TicketMaster and StubHub were $229 and $250. With Houston out, but Texas still in temporarily over the weekend, the lowest prices were $175 with TicketMaster and $215 with StubHub.
By Monday, the tickets had fallen to $117 on TicketMaster and to $120 on StubHub.
Tickets for the championship game on Monday at 9:20 p.m. were $175 before Texas lost. They’re down to as low as $73.
The state of Texas still leads in sales with 45 percent of the tickets, followed by Florida at 10 percent, California at 8 percent, Alabama at 5 percent and Connecticut at 4 percent, according to Stubhub.
So, Florida Atlantic fans are having the times of their lives, and not blowing a lot of money.
“We tried to limit the distractions early in the week,” FAU coach Dusty May said. “My wife, she’s handling all the tickets. I love to see it (the off-brand teams) just because it’s an opportunity for those outside of the national spotlight to be on the big stage and show what they can do.”