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Columbus Prepares To Host NCAA Tournament Games

Eight teams will play in NCAA Tournament games in Nationwide Arena.

March Madness comes to Columbus later this week when Nationwide Arena hosts 8 teams vying to stay in the NCAA Tournament. 

"It is the most exciting time of year if you're a sports fan," said Columbus resident Andrew Smullen.

"I love watching the March Madness and being able to go to some of the games here is very fun," said Columbus resident Marissa Niese.

Basketball fans from around the country will descend on Nationwide Arena to watch the college matchups.  

For businesses in the arena district, the tournament could mean a slam dunk.

"It brings in a lot of new people," said business owner Mike Darr.  

Darr owns The Three-Legged Mare Bar and Restaurant in the heart of the arena district, a popular establishment during March Madness.

"We'll be busy," he said. "We definitely increase staffing. We pay a lot of overtime for these events. It is all worth it as the staff has a great time and you meet a lot of great people."

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission expects ten million dollars to be pumped into the local economy as a result of all of the court action.  

"We are excited to have all eight teams here but there could be five regional teams here within a six hour drive which will probably lead to more fans here going to the game as well as watching," said Brian Wimbish from the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

The tournament action starts Friday where four games will take place at Nationwide Arena. Two more games happen Sunday.

"It is great for Columbus," said Smullen.  "It brings people down to the arena district and shows off our great city."

Friday, March 2

First Session

  • 2:10 p.m. (EDT) – No. 5 Seed West Virginia (23-9) vs. No. 12 Buffalo (23-9) on TNT
  • 30 minutes following – No. 4 Maryland (27-6) vs. No. 13 Valparaiso (28-5) on TNT

Second Session                                           

  • 7:27 p.m. (EDT) – No. 3 Oklahoma (22-10) vs. No. 14 Albany (24-9) on truTV
  • 30 minutes following – No.6 Providence (22-11) vs. No. 11 Boise State/Dayton on truTV