The NCAA tournament will come to Madison Square Garden for the first time ever in 2014, with the Big East conference teaming up with St. John's to host the East Regional round.
Madison Square Garden has long been a mecca of the sport of basketball both at the college and professional levels, and while the arena has long hosted the National Invitational Tournament, they have not been a home for the NCAA's premiere post-season event for the past 53 years — until now.
It was announced this morning that the Big East conference along with member university St. John's, would host the 2014 East Regional round of the tournament at the World's Most Famous Arena. This news comes on the heels of the announcement of a long-term extension to keep the Big East's conference tournament at MSG. Now the conference and arena will play hosts to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds of the NCAA tournament.
St. John's will not be eligible to play in that eastern region if they make the tournament in 2014, since MSG is their home court for most conference basketball games (unless they move all but three games elsewhere), but the rest of the Big East conference will be. Even though the conference tournament champion will play more than three games at the arena, the NCAA's rule against playing on a home-court does not apply to games played during a conference tournament.
MSG has hosted 71 tournament games between 1943 and 1961, but scheduling conflicts and other interests have kept them out of the postseason tournament picture as the competition grew in stature over the years.
Buffalo will also host two earlier rounds of the NCAA tournament next season, which means that a team could potentially make a run to the Final Four without ever leaving the state of New York.
Big East member Memphis (joining in 2013-14) will also be hosting the South Regional in Memphis next spring. Marquette will host second and third-round games at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee as well.
The 2014 NCAA Tournament will be unique compared to recent events, with only one Regional being held in a football dome — the Midwest will be played in the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — the East, South and Western regions will be hosted in smaller arenas that play home to NBA and NHL teams.
In 2015, the NCAA Tournament will host two regionals in football stadiums — the Carrier Dome (East) and Houston's Reliant Stadium (South).