NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - March Madness may be invading Hartford with the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament next week, but the Ivy League has brought its own madness to New Haven this week.
The Elm City is cashing in as Yale University hosts the Ivy League Basketball Championships.
The games tip off on Saturday and include four men's teams and four women's teams. Their bands and fans will also be along for the ride.
At last check on Friday afternoon, the 2,800-seat gym had less than 100 tickets remaining.
Channel 3 heard the sounds of bouncing balls, squeaking sneakers and a few rim-rattling dunks at Yale's Payne Whitney Gymnasium on Friday.
The Bulldog on the center of the court left little doubt as to where the center of the Ivy League basketball world would be this weekend.
“Bill Bradley was my childhood basketball hero," said Tom Wronski from Florida. "My father used to take me to Princeton games when I was growing up, so I’ve always been a big Princeton fan, so I’ve always followed Ivy League basketball over the years.”
This year marks the first time Yale is hosting the tournament. The winners of both the men's and women's championships earn a trip to the NCAA Tournaments.
“The energy is unbelievably phenomenal," said Robin Harris, the Ivy League's executive director. "We’ll have the four men’s teams in the afternoon session [Saturday], four women’s teams in the nightcap and then on Sunday the championship games.”
As the teams went through their final preparations on Friday, nearby crews set up for a weekend of nationally televised broadcasts.
Wronski and Don Kimmel, a Cornell graduate, said they both made the drive up from Florida.
They took in the morning's practices as an appetizer to the weekend's basketball buffet.
“[We'll see] both men’s games [Saturday], the Princeton-Cornell game, so it's really exciting," Kimmel said. "This is our third tournament. It's really good, we’re going to keep coming."
With several evenly matched teams, they're hoping for a memorable weekend.
“You’re here in a small arena so you’re going to be very close to the action, so it should be very exciting," Wronski said.
The Ivy League has set up a rotation for the tournament. It's been moving it around to different schools, so it won't be back in New Haven for a number of years.