As world-class music festival South by Southwest winds down, one of the nation’s most captivating sporting events cranks up for a rare visit to Austin.
The wildly popular NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which generates millions of viewers — and nearly as many pool sheets — will make only its sixth appearance here this week when the University of Texas is a host for early-round games.
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What: NCAA men’s basketball tournament, second and third rounds
When: Friday, March 22, and Sunday, March 24
Where: Erwin Center is one of eight sites.
Format: Four games Friday (afternoon and night sessions); winners meet next Sunday.
Tickets: $225 arena, $185 mezzanine for all-sessions pass. Available at TexasSports.com or call (512) 471-3333 or (800) 982-BEVO.
Sketching the hosts
A look at the eight cities that will host early-round NCAA games, with population (national rank), arena (capacity) and what top teams could land there:
Sports: University of Texas, U.S. Grand Prix Formula One racing
Metro size: 1.83 million (35th)
Venue: Erwin Center (16,734)
Guess list: New Mexico, Miami, Oklahoma State
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Sports: NFL Lions, MLB Tigers, NBA Pistons, NHL Red Wings
Metro size: 4.29 million (14th)
Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills (24,276)
Guess list: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin
Sports: University of Dayton, loyal college basketball town
Metro size: 801,000 (71st)
Venue: UD Arena (13,409)
Guess list: Indiana, Ohio State, Marquette
Kansas City, Mo.
Sports: NFL Chiefs, MLB Royals, NASCAR, traditional Big 12 support
Metro size: 2.04 million (30th)
Venue: Sprint Center (18,972)
Guess list: Kansas, Kansas State, St. Louis
Sports: University of Kentucky, strong college hoops and horse racing country
Metro size: 485,000 (106th)
Venue: Rupp Arena (23,500)
Guess list: Louisville, Florida, Ohio State
Sports: NFL Eagles, MLB Phillies, NBA 76ers, NHL Flyers, Big East college hoops hotbed
Metro size: 6.02 million (6th)
Venue: Wells Fargo Center (19,500)
Guess list: Duke, Syracuse, Georgetown
Salt Lake City
Sports: NBA Jazz, University of Utah, Winter Olympics host, strong basketball territory
Metro size: 1.12 million (50th)
Venue: EnergySolutions Arena (19,911)
Guess list: Gonzaga, Arizona, Creighton
San Jose, Calif.
Sports: NHL Sharks, San Jose State
Metro size: 1.89 million (34th)
Venue: HP Pavilion (17,496)
Guess list: UCLA, Gonzaga, Oregon
Austin’s NCAA history
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has come to the Erwin Center five times. Each time has been memorable. A look back:
1981, first two rounds: U.S. Reed’s half-court shot at the buzzer gave Arkansas a 74-73 win over defending national champ Louisville, creating a golden moment that helped launch what we now call March Madness.
1990, first two rounds: Ivy League Princeton nearly beat No. 4 Arkansas on day one, falling 68-64. Then in round two, North Carolina stunned No. 1-ranked Oklahoma 79-77.
1995, first two rounds: After 15th-seeded Texas Southern scared the daylights out of No. 2 Arkansas, losing 79-78, the Razorbacks nipped Syracuse 96-94 when the Orange were hit with a technical foul in overtime for calling a timeout they didn’t have.
2000, Sweet 16: North Carolina nipped Bill Self’s Tulsa team 59-55 in the regional championship game.
2005, Sweet 16: After knocking out top-seeded Duke in the first game, Michigan State beat Kentucky in a double-overtime classic 94-88.