In a sign of burgeoning interest, the Big Ten men's basketball tournament, to be held at the United Center on March 14-17, is a sellout, conference officials announced Thursday.
That's a big boost for the league. The buzz for the tourney has been declining lately, but the Big Ten is enjoying a resurgence this year, and fans are noticing. It's also a positive for Chicago, which is hosting the tourney for the first time since 2007.
After its five-year run in Indianapolis, the tourney will alternate between Chicago (2013 and 2015) and Indy (2014, 2016) for four years.
A big reason for the renewed interest is the resurgence of Indiana and Michigan, who are enjoying their best seasons in a while, combined with the continued strong play of perennials Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Illinois and Iowa also have been playing well lately, encouraging their supporters to look more closely at the conference tournament.
Here's the full announcement from the Big Ten:
BIG TEN ANNOUNCES SELLOUT
FOR 2013 MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Men's event returns to the United Center in Chicago from March 14-17
Park Ridge, Ill. - The conference office announced today that the 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament, scheduled for March 14-17 at the United Center in Chicago, is now sold out. After the original allotment of general public tickets for the 2013 event sold out in January, the conference office made a limited number of additional all-session packages available on Feb. 1, but all tickets have now been sold.
The 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament returns to Chicago, which hosted the inaugural event in 1998 and will serve as the site for the eighth time in the tournament's 16-year history. The conference tournament averaged 18,882 fans per session when the event was last held at the United Center in 2007. The men's tournament set total and average attendance records while in Chicago in 2001 with 109,769 fans in attendance for an average of 21,954 patrons per session.
The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament features 11 games over four days, beginning with four games on Thursday, and the top four teams will receive byes into the quarterfinal round on Friday. Six different programs have won the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan State and Ohio State have won the title three times. Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin have each won the championship twice, and Purdue has won the tournament once.
Several fan events surround this year's men's tournament, including the Daley Plaza Hoops Fest, Tip-Off Luncheon, Big Ten Youth Fitness Program, Big Ten Books for Baskets and Restaurant Pairings Program. For more information on ancillary events, go to bigtenchicagohoops.com.
Seven different Big Ten teams have been ranked among the nation's top 20 this season, including five programs currently among the top 20 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, more than any other conference. Indiana is currently the nation's top-ranked team, joining Michigan as the second Big Ten school to appear atop the national polls this season. Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State have also appeared among the top 10 this season, while Wisconsin has been ranked among the top 20.
For more information, including a full bracket and lodging information, go to the men's basketball page on bigten.org.
Notice to Secondary Market Ticket Buyers: The Big Ten Conference and the United Center can only guarantee the validity of Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament tickets purchased from university ticket offices, Ticketmaster or the United Center Ticket office. Fans who obtain tickets from unauthorized dealers or from other fans run the risk of buying lost, stolen or counterfeit tickets which will not be honored for admission, and will not be eligible for any type of refund or exchange.