There will be a lot of celebrating in Pittsburgh this weekend and it's not just because of Saint Patrick’s Day. March Madness has come to town.
Thousands of college basketball fans from across the country will converge on PPG Paints Arena for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Duquesne University is hosting these preliminary rounds with games scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.
It’s the third time in seven years the NCAA has selected Pittsburgh as a tournament site. According to Duquesne Director of Athletics Dave Harper, that can be attributed to the venue and the city itself.
“The venue is a crown jewel," Harper said. " It’s a terrific venue. And then you look at what the city has to offer in terms of hotels and close proximity to the venue. When fans visit, they have a tremendous amount of options in terms of dining and getting around the city."
Choreographing the tournament takes time and hard work. Planning began nine months ago.
“There are pre-site visits, hotel visits, arranging police escorts to get to games, getting tickets for visiting teams,” said Harper. “Whether its preparing the arena and covering up all the corporate signage to the NCAA corporate partners are featured prominently, there is an attention to detail at every level. "
Duquesne University also benefits from the nationally televised tournament by getting its brand in front of a large, TV audience.
“When we’re just out recruiting or being host of an NCAA tournament, it has a strong positioning which resonates with young, student athletes and resonates with fans,” Harper said.
No. 1 seed in the East Region Villanova and No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region Duke are among the top teams competing in the preliminary rounds of play in Pittsburgh. Fans who don’t already have a ticket may have to watch the action from their televisions at home. The tournament is a sell out in Pittsburgh.