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It’s officially March and that only means one thing: It’s college basketball season! For fans who want a courtside view as their teams march through the tournament this month, we gathered CheapTickets booking data on when and where to score the best deals. The top money-saving tip? If you want to watch your team win the whole thing, book… right now.

If you’re wondering how we came up with this list, we started by comparing CheapTickets flight and hotel booking data for host cities throughout the tournament to determine the cheapest time to book travel. Fans heading to Minneapolis, host of the final rounds this year including the championship game, will want to buy as early as March 7-16. Overall, our data for tourney travel shows the cheapest booking window is 21-30 days out.

Rooms are already starting to fill up, too. CheapTickets data shows  that searches for hotels in the Twin Cities during the final rounds, April 6-8, are up 118%. Fans are also looking for lodging during game time in Des Moines (up 45%), Kansas City (up 35%), Louisville (up 125%) and Columbus (up 27%).

RELATED: The best neighborhoods to explore in the Twin Cities

Best time to buy March tournament tickets

Last-minute deals

According to the data, fans holding out for a last-minute deal, especially in the later rounds, should look at Anaheim, California or Kansas City, Missouri for the biggest savings. Anyone rooting for a wild card team can rest easy and book hotels just one week out for deals during those third and fourth rounds towards the end of March.

CheapTickets reports that the cheapest place to watch any of the rounds is a city that’s not hosting this year but is the most popular place during tournament time: Las Vegas, Nevada. Average roundtrip ticket prices in March are around $330 or less and room nights average $125 and under. Hotel searches during tournament time are also up 132 percent compared with the same period last year.

Fans can also score big with savings to early round destinations that double as spring break spots. San Jose, California and Jacksonville, Florida are showing some of the most affordable fares for the first rounds, averaging around $400 or less. Columbia, South Carolina has some of the cheapest average room nights of any place during the tournament at just $113.

“Jacksonville is one of the cheapest overall tournament destinations for both flights and hotels this year. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a great spring break spot where travelers can catch some sun and fun outside the arena,” said McDonald.

March basketball tournament tickets

Tickets to the Tournament

College basketball fans can save on travel and tickets to the NCAA tournament at CheapTickets.com. Ticket prices for the first two rounds on the site are averaging $134, that’s down 45% compared with last year. Tickets to the third round—when the field is narrowed down to just sixteen teams—are also 21% cheaper than last year’s prices at an average of $266 per ticket.

Fans can expect to pay the most for seats to the semifinals in Minneapolis on April 6. Tickets are averaging $383 on the site, up 17% from last year’s tournament, and tickets to the championship game also climbed 45% at an average of $365 per seat.

For a limited time, CheapTickets offers several ways for fans to save on travel throughout the tournament, including promo codes for 10% off tickets, $75 to $150 off flight and hotel packages, and 16% off hotels. Visit the CheapTickets Tourney page for full details.

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Tagged: California, Destinations, Events, Florida, Las Vegas, Sports

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