The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament will shine the national spotlight on New Orleans for two days of the best college basketball this Thursday and Saturday, as the Southeast Regional will take place at the New Orleans Arena.
While the regional's winner will advance to the NCAA's Final Four at Reliant Stadium in Houston, this year's games will also serve as a prelude to the Louisiana Superdome hosting the 2012 "Final Four", an event which the Saints organization, the Sugar Bowl, Tulane University, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and Superdome management collaborated to bid on. The 2012 "Final Four" will be part of a year-long trio of exciting events scheduled for the stadium including the 2012 BCS Championship Game and capped by Super Bowl XLIVII in 2013.
To buy your ticket books, fans can call the Saints ticket office at 504-731-1700. Tickets are extremely limited. Ticket books are only $168 each. Each ticket book is for one seat and includes all three games: the Thursday, March 24th "Sweet 16" Doubleheader and the "Elite 8" game on Saturday, March 26th.
Wednesday's events for the Southeast Regional will feature an open practice day for each of the teams. The public is invited to come watch each squad's one-hour practice at New Orleans Arena beginning at noon. Parking and admission to Wednesday's open practice day is free of charge.
The live action begins on Thursday when third seed Brigham Young will face off against second seeded Florida at 6:27 p.m. CST. BYU (32-4) has excelled all season long behind Jimmer Fredette, the nation's top scorer at 28.6 points per game. The Gators, the highest seed to make it to New Orleans, have won two national titles in the past five years and are gunning for their third in six. In 2007, they opened the successful defense of their first national title in the New Orleans Arena for the first and second round.
At 8:57 or a half hour after the conclusion of the first matchup, fourth-seeded Wisconsin will face eighth-seed Butler. The Badgers (25-8) have enjoyed an outstanding season, where there signature win occurred when they were the first team to knock current top overall seed Ohio State from the ranks of the undefeated during the regular season.
While Butler finished 25-9 and is the eighth seed, the Indianapolis University cannot be considered a darkhorse no more as they advanced to the national championship game in 2010. Butler has advanced this far in 2011 by a two-point win vs. Old Dominion and a 71-70 win against top-seeded Pittsburgh on Saturday in a wild finish.
The winner of the two games will face off on Saturday in the New Orleans Arena, with the time to be announced.