Tickets hard to find for UNC matchup

It’s one of the toughest tickets in sports. So if you’ve got a ducat for this year’s Final Four, hold on for dear life.

Kansas University’s basketball team is heading to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four for the first time since 2003, after beating Davidson, 59-57, in the Midwest regional championship Sunday in Detroit.

The Jayhawks (35-3) will play North Carolina (36-2) on Saturday in San Antonio. UCLA (35-3) and Memphis (37-1) will play in the other national semifinal, and the winners will play each other for the national championship on April 7.

All the schools still alive this weekend started making preliminary plans for a trip to San Antonio, and Kansas was no exception. But finding tickets for the prestigious event? If you don’t already have them, you’ll be hard-pressed to get them. KU’s allotment already has been accounted for.

“We get 3,250,” associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said, “and they’re gone.”

The Alamodome – which also played host to the Final Four in 2004 – will hold 44,536 fans for this weekend’s games, but tickets have been sold out for some time. The general-public lottery was conducted last summer.

Of course, second chances are out there – if you don’t mind emptying the wallet. Tickets are on sale through online brokers and auctions – but predictably, they’re in high demand.

The online auction site eBay had several tickets available Sunday night, though most prices are eclipsing $900 for a pair. has many tickets for sale, but even the worst seats are going for more than $300 each.

Those who are heading down there – with or without tickets – will find nice weather and several attractions. San Antonio’s most popular tourist destination is the River Walk, a long, winding strip of restaurants, bars and attractions adjacent to a small river going through downtown.

KU walk-on guard Chase Buford is a native of San Antonio. He promised Sunday that fans would enjoy their stay in his hometown, which is about a 12-hour drive down Interstate 35 from Lawrence for those not flying.

“They’re going to have a good time, especially KU fans, with the River Walk and everything,” Buford said. “There’s a reason the NCAA came back just four years after they had one there. It’s a good place for a Final Four.”

The Final Four will have several events surrounding the games, as well. One example is a block party, scheduled for Friday, which will feature musical acts such as Fall Out Boy and The Roots.

But the main event is entertaining enough this year. Consider the storylines:

¢ All four teams are No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, and they have a combined record of 143-9.

¢ KU coach Bill Self is going to the first Final Four of his career, an achievement that has KU fans proud.

“It’s so great for him,” said Vaughn Voth, a KU fan living in Chesterfield, Mich., who attended Sunday’s game. “He’s a great coach.”

¢ The bench opposite KU’s on Saturday will house North Carolina and coach Roy Williams, who coached at Kansas from 1988-2003. Williams’ departure after the 2003 season – the last time Kansas was in the Final Four – was a bitter breakup that still has many fans fuming. It will be the first time Williams plays against Kansas.

Combine them all, and many KU fans already are aware of the magnitude of Saturday’s showdown. Some think San Antonio will be playing host to history.

“Biggest college basketball game in the last 20 years,” said Matt Norman, a KU graduate who lives in Detroit. “There won’t be a bigger game. We will be the focus of sports media attention for the next week.

“To be honest with you, it’s bigger than the national championship game.”