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Pitt-Duke a hot — and expensive — ticket

| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 7:06 p.m.

Pitt has played more important games at Petersen Events Center, games with higher stakes and greater meaning. But Monday's meeting between the No. 20 Panthers and 18th-ranked Duke still carries a hefty price tag.

Tickets had sold on the secondary market for an average of $249 by Thursday, according to SeatGeek, a ticket resale website. The game long has been a sellout.

Prices have dropped since the start of ACC play and might continue to fall, SeatGeek analyst Connor Gregoire said, but so far, this is the most- expensive average Pitt basketball ticket on the secondary market since the company began tracking prices in 2009. The previous high was the $146 average resale price for Villanova-Pitt at The Pete on March 5, 2011.

Gregoire noted the average price to date exceeds that of all Pirates postseason games last season, including Game 3 of the National League Division Series against St. Louis ($182) and beats the most expensive average Steelers ticket last season: $222 for the Chicago Bears game.

It also is the second-highest price for a Duke road game this season, exceeded only by the Feb. 12 game at archrival North Carolina.

Only 100 reserved general-seating tickets were put on sale for the Pitt-Duke game. They quickly sold at $100, marked up from the usual $45. Standing room-only tickets bumped from $45 to $75 also went fast.

Duke is making its first visit to Oakland since beating the Panthers, 78-69, on Jan. 26, 1980, at Fitzgerald Field House. That was the season before Mike Krzyzewski took over as Blue Devils head coach.

Since then, Duke has become a college basketball power, winning four national championships and contending for more.

The Blue Devils perennially are a strong draw on the road, even this season when they started slowly and fell to a low-for-them No. 23 ranking. On Jan. 4 with Notre Dame students on winter break, Duke lost in South Bend, Ind., before a sellout crowd of 9,149. Three days later, nearly 2,000 fewer fans saw the Fighting Irish host N.C. State.

On Jan. 11, a crowd of 9,842 at Clemson watched Duke lose. Two days earlier, Clemson drew about 1,500 fewer fans for its game against Florida State. On Wednesday, Miami lost to Duke before a rare home sellout.

“Duke is gonna attract people everywhere,” longtime ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said. “The Duke uniform and the Duke mystique brings people out. Like the Yankees, people either love 'em or hate 'em.

“They bring with them that aura,” Vitale said. “We live in a society where a lot of people want to knock people down that are on top. They're Goliaths. Let's knock 'em down. ... Their appeal is unbelievable.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCohn_Trib.

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