LAWRENCE, Kan. — With the NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket out, travel is on the minds of KU fans who are still digesting the fact that no local teams are slated to compete in Kansas City.
Instead, Des Moines will be the destination for the Jayhawks.
Student had until 5 p.m. on Monday to buy/reserve tickets through a potential second round, according to an email sent to students.
But there is certainly a different feeling to this NCAA tournament when compared to last year.
KU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bill Self is now back at home after a procedure installing stents – treating blocked arteries.
So far there has been no official announcement on the coach’s exact plans for the NCAA tournament. But fans are sharing their gut feelings.
“He’s a tough guy too. He wants to be there. You know he does,” Larry Wilson, a KU basketball fan from Overland Park, said.
“My mom had had some operations like that and lived for many years after that and was totally healthy. So I’m – again – very optimistic,” Wilson said.
“I definitely think there’s some worry with Coach Self in the looms of ‘Is he going to be there or not?’ Maybe the first weekend, maybe the second weekend, what might happen?” Reece Petty, a KU Basketball Fan from Kansas City, said.
In addition, KU Guard Kevin McCullar Jr’s absence during their losing game to Texas in the Big 12 is causing some concern.
But these issues aren’t necessary affecting thoughts on travel. It’s just a three-and-a-half hour drive from Lawrence to Des Moines.
Instead – its a game of comparisons between the early rounds and potential later rounds.
“Being from Kansas City I was hoping we’d get into the Midwest bracket but the Vegas thing is tempting too if they make it that far -being able to head there,” Petty said.
It’s a slight shift from the good feelings of 2022’s National Championship which – some fans suggest – could push the willingness to be patient on travel decisions.
“If we make it to the sweet 16, of course I’m going to have people coming in here. The first two rounds maybe not so,” Victor Rodriguez, assistant manager at Rally House in Lawrence, said.
“They’ve got some challenges. You know, they still have some foul challenges. And frankly they’ve got to work better on the boards. I mean, there were just way too many defensive boards that they weren’t grabbing. But, you know, when they play Kansas basketball – they can beat anybody,” Wilson said.
“Kind of ironically, just this past August my dad had triple bypass surgery,” Petty said.
“He’s been doing great since then so – with that background and knowing about my dad – I think Self’s going to be fine. It’s just a stent. It’s not even a bypass surgery,” Petty said.
According to Director of Marketing and E-Commerce for Tickers For Less, Mary Strickler, ticket prices will only increase as the games get closer.
She recommends buying your tickets sooner rather than later and says to watch out for certain ticket websites because some will add on additional fees at checkout.
“I would buy earlier right now. These prices are super low, I mean for both rounds you could get for less than two hundred bucks so buy now,” Strickler said. “You never know as tickets start selling, that price could go up.”
She says those fees can be anywhere between 20 to 30 percent and up, adding 50 to even thousands of dollars on top of your game ticket.
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If you are hitting the road, the average price of gas in Kansas and Missouri is three dollars and ten cents according to AAA, while the top hotels are averaging just under $140 a night.
Strickler says they’ll have to wait and see if T-Mobile gets the same attendance from out-of-town teams with KU on the road.
“I will say that Iowa State is in the running there, they have fans who travel really, really well so that would be awesome if they made it there,” Mary Strickler.