It’s officially March and that only means one thing: it’s college basketball season.

For fans that want a courtside view as their teams march through the tournament this month, budget travel brand CheapTickets is releasing information 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 now.

CheapTickets compared 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.

“If you want to save this year on tourney travel you’re going to have to bet big on your team and purchase hotels and flights—even before final teams are announced,” said CheapTickets travel expert Justine McDonald. “Our data shows the cheapest booking window is 21-30 days out.”

Rooms are already starting to fill up, too. The travel site reports that searches for hotels in the Twin Cities during the final rounds, April 6-8, are up 118 percent. 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%).

Last-Minute Deals

According to McDonald, 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.

Tournament Time: Cheapest Hotels
Host City, State Average Daily Rate
Tulsa, Oklahoma $94
Dayton, Ohio $98
Jacksonville, Florida $106
Columbia, South Carolina $113
Las Vegas, Nevada $125


Tournament Time: Cheapest Flights
Host City, State Average Ticket Price
Las Vegas, Nevada $332
San Jose, California $377
Minneapolis, Minnesota $381
Kansas City, Missouri $392
Jacksonville, Florida $407


Tickets to the Tournament

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

Round Average Ticket Price % Increase / Decrease
Rounds 1 & 2 $134 -45%
Solid Sixteen $266 -21%
Extreme Eight $282 0%
Fierce Four $383 +17%
Championship $365 +45%

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 percent from last year’s tournament, and tickets to the championship game also climbed 45 percent at an average of $365 per seat.

The site is advertising several ways for fans to save on travel throughout the tournament, including promo codes for 10 percent off tickets, $75 to $150 off flight and hotel packages, and 16 percent off hotels. Visit for full details.

  • Save 10% on event tickets with promo code TICKETS10
  • Save $75 off select hotel and flight packages with promo code VACAY75
  • Save $150 off select hotel and flight packages with promo code ADVENTURE150
  • Save 16% off hotels with promo code SPRINGBREAK