Published Sunday, March 11, 2012 | 7:02 p.m.
Updated Monday, March 12, 2012 | 10:25 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Taylor Bern and Ray Brewer take a look at the UNLV basketball team's opening round opponent in the NCAA Tournament — Pac-12 tournament champions Colorado.
- Rebels headed to Albuquerque for NCAA Tournament opener against Colorado
- New Mexico storms past San Diego State for the Mountain West tournament title
- The Rebels try to collect themselves after dropping a classic semifinal battle with New Mexico
- Instant Analysis: Despite MWC loss, there is still plenty of basketball left for UNLV
- Rebels eager to get revenge with New Mexico after surviving against Wyoming
- Rebels rely on defense in opening round victory over Wyoming
- Colorado State puts itself firmly in the NCAA bubble
- Mountain West tournament title won’t prove anything, but could improve UNLV’s seeding
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
It’s time for the dance. Destination: Albuquerque.
As the UNLV basketball team packs its bags for the NCAA tournament, university officials expect more fans than the Rebels' past two tournament appearances to do the same given the relatively close tournament site. UNLV, a No. 6 seed in South Region, will take the court Thursday against Colorado at the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena, “The Pit.”
Travel mania begins tonight as fans scramble for a limited number of tickets. Here’s your need-to-know guide for snagging game tickets and getting to Albuquerque for Thursday’s matchup.
First step: Tickets
There’s a small time frame to request a limited supply of tickets, which the NCAA allocates to each participating school. Plan accordingly.
For UNLV season ticket holders, that means submitting a ticket request by noon Monday. University officials said instructions will be emailed to all season ticket holders and also will be available at UNLVRebels.com. As of 9 p.m. Sunday, a link to place ticket requests will be available on the site. A non-refundable processing fee of $15 per order will be charged for all requests. UNLV will dispense tickets according to its postseason ticket policy, which is based on priority points from the Rebel Athletic Fund membership.
Those selected to receive tickets will be notified by 8 p.m. Monday. The limit is four tickets per season ticket holder account. Everyone who receives tickets will be charged the full, non-refundable ticket price Monday.
UNLV students hoping to snag tickets must enter an online lottery system. University officials said students should log onto their UNLV tickets account online (the same way they would for regular-season tickets) from 9 p.m. Sunday until noon Monday. They will be prompted to place their ticket request in a lottery system. An undisclosed number of winning names will be drawn Monday. Winners will be contacted via email by 4 p.m. Monday. The limit is one ticket per winning student.
The general public can visit UNLVRebels.com beginning 8 p.m. Monday to purchase tickets based on availability.
Ticket buyers will not be able pick them up in Las Vegas. The exact pickup location will be emailed to fans and posted at UNLVRebels.com. The original purchaser must provide a valid photo identification to pick up the NCAA tournament tickets in Albuquerque.
If UNLV advances to the third round of the tournament, fans who received tickets will automatically get tickets to the next game in Albuquerque. The cost of those tickets will be automatically charged to the purchasers’ credit cards.
If UNLV makes the Sweet 16, the university will release more information about how to obtain tickets.
Fans also can scoop up game tickets by visiting NCAA.com.Visitors can attempt to purchase tickets in any of the tournament sites. As of Monday morning, tickets were still available for the Rebels opening game on the site.
Second step: Getting there
Fans should consider themselves lucky: Of the eight second- and third-round NCAA tournament sites, UNLV scored the one closest to home. The roughly 570-mile journey from Las Vegas to Albuquerque is a nine-hour trip by car or a short plane ride away.
If you’re driving to Albuquerque, budget at least $200 toward gas for the round-trip getaway. For instance: A 2010 Honda Accord will require $222.94 worth of gas round trip based on average fuel prices along the way, according to AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator.
A roundtrip flight — leaving Wednesday and returning Sunday — will be at least double or triple the cost of driving. Most roundtrip flights for those dates were running anywhere from the mid-$400s to more than $700, according to Expedia.com and Travelocity.com rates early Sunday evening.
Third step: Where to stay
The University of New Mexico sits conveniently in downtown Albuquerque, offering guests a decent selection of hotels within a short distance. The options strike a variety of price points as well.
As of early Sunday evening, Hotels.com included the following hotel rates for Wednesday and Thursday night:
• $55 average nightly rate at Americas Best Value Inn (0.92 miles from the University of New Mexico)
• $66 average nightly rate at the Plaza Inn (1 mile from the University of New Mexico)
• $100 average nightly rate at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Airport (1.2 miles from the University of New Mexico)
• $152 average nightly rate at Hotel Andaluz (1.4 miles from the University of New Mexico)
• $199 average nightly rate at DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque (1.5 miles from the University of New Mexico)
Fourth step: What to do
As fans flock to Albuquerque this week, they likely will spend most their time in “The Pit” — the University of New Mexico’s home for college basketball. The name doesn’t disappoint. The basketball arena was built in a 37-foot hole in Albuquerque, according to the university website.
When Rebel fans aren’t cheering inside “The Pit,” Albuquerque offers everything from hot air balloon rides to golfing and museums, according to the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau website. And, yes, there are even casinos for those missing Las Vegas.
The website also offers a helpful warning to potential visitors:
“Before coming to Albuquerque, visitors should be aware of the city’s high elevation of over 5,000 feet. When visiting Albuquerque, it may take your body a couple of days to adjust to the high altitude.”