Defending champion Villanova highlights teams playing at KeyBank Center
By David Yarger
March Madness is back in Buffalo for the first time since 2014. That year's champion, No. 7 seed Connecticut, started its journey to the title in the Queen City. UConn also started the tournament in Buffalo in 2004, on its way to a national championship.
The defending champion Villanova Wildcats will highlight this year's games at the KeyBank Center on Thursday. The Wildcats earned the overall No. 1 seed for the tournament with a 31-3 record. At 7:10 p.m., they will play the winner of a play-in game in Dayton between No. 16 seeds Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans.
Villanova also played in Buffalo in 2014 as the No. 2 seed. The Wildcats were beaten in the third round by Connecticut.
The bracket matchup below Villanova's will be the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (25-9) vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies (22-10) at 9:40 p.m. Both teams received at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
On the bottom left of the bracket, the No. 4 seed West Virginia Mountaineers will take on No. 13 Bucknell Bison at 2:45 p.m. The last time the Mountaineers played in the tournament in Buffalo was 2010. That year they made the Final Four as the No. 2 seed.
The game above that is between the No. 5 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 12 Princeton Tigers at 12:15 p.m. The Irish reached the elite-eight last year before being defeated by North Carolina. Princeton will be making its first appearance in the tournament since 2011.
The Buffalo portion of the NCAA Tournament will be co-hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Canisius College and Niagara University. The three have hosted the tournament in Buffalo previously, in 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2014.
Click HERE for a full schedule.
The second-round games will be played Saturday, March 18, with times to be determined.
For ticket information, for for tickets, visit www.keybankcenter.com.
Transportation Options Ready For Basketball Visitors
Taxicab lineup, extra NFTA trains set to transport visitors at this month's tournament
Earlier this month, Visit Buffalo Niagara released the following information:
An effort coordinated by the City of Buffalo and Visit Buffalo Niagara between local taxicab companies and public transportation will help ensure a smooth experience for spectators at rounds one and two of the NCAA Tournament.
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown brought together several community stakeholders, including Visit Buffalo Niagara, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., local taxicab companies and the NFTA to hammer out a plan for ground transportation at the NCAA tournament.
The tournament is expected to bring thousands of visitors downtown and conservatively generate $8 million in economic impact when it arrives in Buffalo from March 16-18. When it does, Buffalo's cab companies and the Metro Rail will be ready with a plan to accommodate that influx of visitors.
Some of the adjustments made following the discussions convened by Brown and VBN President and CEO Patrick Kaler include:
•A taxi standing area to be sited along Hanover Street, in between Marine Drive and Prime Street at Canalside. Signage and volunteers stationed inside KeyBank Center will direct attendees looking for a cab to this location. (See map for more details). Additional taxis will be available along Marine Drive past Lloyd Street. Visitors to Buffalo can also order a cab by downloading the Curb app on their phones.
•The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will adjust the Metro Rail's capacity and frequency to include more train cars and additional trains during peak times over the course of the tournament.
•The entire length of the Metro Rail will be free on the second day of the tournament, Saturday, March 18, courtesy of the Coors Light Drink Responsibly program.
These adjustments will be especially important because of a 90-minute time period on March 16 in between game sets where visitors must vacate KeyBank Center and will be looking for somewhere downtown to eat and drink. The specific times of those games - and the subsequent 90-minute intermission - will be announced. The taxi stand will also operate following the last games on Thursday, and after the Saturday games.
"My administration worked proactively with Visit Buffalo Niagara, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and the NFTA to develop a plan to enhance traffic flow along the streets near the KeyBank Center during the NCAA playoffs, particularly the flow of taxis," Brown said. "This is designed to prevent bottlenecks in traffic in front of the arena, while still providing game-goers with taxi services in close proximity. We are looking forward to playing host to the NCAA teams and their fans and leaving them with a fantastic impression of the City of Buffalo."
"We are confident that these adjustments will help visitors have a great experience when they arrive here. ..." Kaler said. "Buffalo's taxis and public transportation are up to the task to ensure our visitors can navigate our resurgent city as efficiently as possible."
"It's been a pleasure to serve the Western New York Community for over 40 years," said William Yunke of Liberty Cab. "We're looking forward to working with Visit Buffalo Niagara and other community leaders to make Buffalo a first-class tourist destination."
"NFTA-Metro is looking forward to providing safe and reliable public transit to the thousands of fans attending the basketball games at the KeyBank Center," said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director. "Metro Rail provides free parking at University and LaSalle stations, and with its special events station just a 'short jump shot' away from the facility's front door, it provides the most convenient transportation option possible."
Visit Buffalo Niagara sells and markets local assets and attractions to visitors outside of the Buffalo Niagara region as a convention, tourism and leisure destination for the economic benefit of the community.