March Madness

Atlantic 10, Big East & NCAA Tournament

When the calendar flips to March, the sports world focuses its attention on college basketball.  Whether its conference tournaments or the NCAA tournament, every game is tremendously important.  This year, all eyes will be on New York City, as the NCAA men’s tournament returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 53 years.  And leading up to that, NYC will host two elite conference tournaments, the Atlantic 10 and Big East Championships.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the second year.  The St. Louis Billikens won last year’s tournament and have continued their success this year, playing well enough to be ranked in the Top 25 for most of this season. Their attempt at repeating won’t be easy – the Atlantic 10 has been very competitive this year with Virginia Commonwealth, University of Massachusetts, and George Washington University all playing very well. The tournament runs from March 12- March 16 with one game on Wednesday, quadruple-headers (four games in one day) on Thursday and Friday, the semifinals on Saturday evening, and the Finals on Sunday March 16 at 1pm.

While you are enjoying the “hoops action” be sure to sample the local Brooklyn food and drink as well.  There are many great eateries featured at Barclays Center – you can find everything from Cuban sandwiches and Nathan’s hot dogs to Brooklyn Beer and Junior’s Cheesecake!  And don’t miss the great bars and restaurants in the neighborhood around the arena: grab a great German beer at Koelner BierHalle (84 St. Marks Pl.) or tasty Bar-B-Q at The Smoke Joint (87 S. Elliot Pl.).

Not to be outdone, the Big East tournament will again be held at Madison Square Garden, its home since 1983.  The Big East has long been one of the top basketball conferences in the country and the tournament always features incredible matchups.  This year should be no different, as Villanova University has been a top 10 ranked team for much of the season, and new Big East member Creighton University stars the likely national Player of the Year Doug McDermott.  The Garden always gets loud for hometown St. John’s University and with perennial national powers Georgetown, Marquette and Xavier in the mix, the 2014 Big East tournament should be lots of fun with lots of great games.  The action goes from March 12-15, with a quadruple-header on Thursday and the semifinals Friday.  The Final will be on on Saturday at 8:30pm.

But the Atlantic 10 and the Big East Tournament are just the beginning this year, as the basketball action gets even more exciting and historic later in March when the NCAA tournament returns to New York City.  Madison Square Garden hosted tournament games between 1943 and 1961 but this year the tournament returns to MSG for the first time in 53 years… and the city is ready!  The semifinal games will take place on Friday March 28th and the finals will be held on Sunday March 30th.  The winning team will move onto the Final Four weekend held in Dallas and compete for the NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship.

If your trip lines up for you to catch this historic event, be sure to get to MSG early to check out the Garden 366 – photographs lining the concourses that highlight a great event held there on each calendar day of the year.  See the history of the Garden unfold in these timeless and incredible photos.  Garden 366 is part of the recently completed major renovations that also included upgrades to all of their concession areas, so come hungry!  We recommend the new Club Bar & Grill on the 3rd Floor Terrace Level!

Basketball is often called “The City Game,” so what a great chance to combine your visit to “The City” with a chance to see these incredible college tournaments!  Whether it’s a thrilling championship game at Barclay’s Center for the Atlantic 10 or MSG for the Big East, or the historic rebirth of the NCAA Tournament in NYC, don’t leave town without checking out “March Madness” for yourself. For complete schedule and ticket info check out atlantic10.org, bigeast.org, ncaa.org or see your hotel concierge.