How are students getting tickets to watch Duke men’s basketball in the Final Four? It starts with a long, long line

The crazy times in K-Ville were supposed to end with the final regular-season game against the Tar Heels. Then again, Duke and North Carolina weren’t supposed to match up in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament during Coach K’s final season.

Ali Jalal sat on a roller chair Monday waiting alongside fellow sophomores Will Temme, Xavier Ghazeleh and Rohan Gupta. While they waited in line, they had decisions to make.

How would they get to New Orleans if they got a Final Four Ticket? They might take a Greyhound bus. Or maybe they’ll drive. They know they won’t fly, those plane tickets are way too expensive and there’s no direct flights.

“We kinda just made this plan, but we might sleep in [Gupta’s] truck bed,” Temme said.

Hundreds of students were in a similar situation as Jalal and company Monday afternoon as undergraduate and graduates alike patiently waited in as close to a single-file line as a group of people about to witness arguably the biggest college basketball ever could. Each student registered their name in the lottery with their Duke ID and credit card at the Duke Athletics Ticket Office, but only 700 people would get their name picked to buy a $20 ticket to the Final Four that’s good for both the Semifinal and National Championship ( conditional on Duke winning). At the end of registration, 2,062 students had entered their name into the pool.

Most hotels in the New Orleans area cost upwards of $2,000 for a four-night stay from the Friday before the Final Four to the Tuesday after the championship game. Round-trip plane tickets are sitting at over $1,000 from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, and there are no unbooked direct flights.

That didn’t stop students from lining up though, as the line stretched from the ticket office next to Wallace Wade Stadium all the way to the second lamppost from Towerview Road.

Senior Katie Cannon stood near that lamppost, buckling in for what figured to be at least a three-hour long wait. It’s worth it though, especially considering what happened the last time these two teams faced off.

“This one has more emotional weight, it’s a chance for revenge. It’s the rematch we were all hoping we’d get,” Cannon said.

The epic showdown comes right before the crux of the semester. Temme hesitated for a moment with finals coming up, but not for long.

“When else are you gonna get to do this again,” Ghazeleh said back. Both agreed that’s a sacrifice they are willing to make. Other students like junior Ryan Champaigne and Brian Anaya are ready to sleep in a car too.

“If [my friend and I] all got in, it’d be the most hype I’ve been all year,” sophomore Vinnessa Van said.

All the students can do now is wait until Tuesday night, when the winners of the lottery will be announced.


Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle’s 117th volume.

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