KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Give the Big 12 credit. They know how to create an NCAA tournament atmosphere here in Kansas City.
The pre-game aura around the Sprint Center rivaled when I was here for the NCAA tournament a year ago. There were oodles of fans everywhere, bands playing, people outside in a restaurant garden.
And the sea of blue and red for Kansas, with some spots of purple, was overwhelming. As Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said, and he’s a former Kansas player, this is Allen Fieldhouse East. Already here a few minutes before tipoff the Jayhawks dominate the crowd.
Police closed off a number of streets in and around the Sprint Center making it exceedingly difficult to get to the arena, especially if you leave your hotel late (like me) and you’re trying to get to a parking garage. Licensed scalpers are out in force. Joey Riddick, who has a business card for his services and a name tag, was selling tickets for $200 a pop. I asked him if the Big 12 dream scenario occurs where it’s Kansas and Kansas State how much tickets would go for in the championship game and he said easily in the $300 to $400 range for the lower bowl.
The other option is to get the reverse of Texas A&M-Baylor in the final. The game would be highly competitive, but let’s be honest -- it won’t be nearly as much of a demand with thousands of empty seats expected in that scenario.
Bottom line: this has the feel of a regional with the Big 12’s best four teams here. All four of these teams could be playing in the Sweet 16.