Since the Sweet 16 brings blue-chip tournament teams Duke and Gonzaga to town, ticket prices are off the charts for today's games in SF, and could double again by Saturday.

The March Madness college basketball tournament is back in San Francisco Thursday night for the first time since 1939, when the games were played on Treasure Island. And while “Chase Center tickets are expensive!” is hardly a news story anymore at this point, the outlandishness of ticket prices for these Thursday night and Saturday games has nothing to do with the Chase Center, and everything to do with the teams that happen to be playing.

Screenshot: Ticketmaster

To the delight of the CBS Network and the American ticket scalping community, the round of games being played here this weekend involve the No. 1-ranked college basketball team in the country Gonzaga, and the No. 1 most-hated college basketball team in the country Duke. Duke is the main driver here, as their all-time winningest college basketball coach ever Mike Krzyzewski has announced he’s retiring after this tournament. So any game Duke loses would be the last of “Coach K’s” 42-year career.

“According to the TicketIQ blog, prices for the round of 16 games Thursday averaged $423 per seat for the [San Francisco] round of 16 games,” according to the Chronicle. “At Ticketmaster, verified resale tickets for two tickets to Thursday’s games run from a low of $160 to a high of $750 per seat for the upper level. For the lower level they start at $380 and go as high as $4,500 for a court-side seat."

For comparison, tickets to this weekend Sweet 16 games in San Antonio are averaging $76.

There are four teams playing at Chase this weekend (Gonzaga vs. Arkansas early Thursday night, Duke vs Texas Tech at 6:40 p.m. later Thursday night, with the winners playing Saturday at a time to be determined). If Duke and Gonzaga both win and meet Saturday, those tickets would surely be the most expensive yet of the tournament, and prices will likely at least double.

“If they both advance and play each other that will create the highest demand,” TicketIQ founder and president Jesse Lawrence told the Chronicle, wit the paper adding that “prices for the West Regional rose 101% as soon as Duke won its game last weekend.”

It should be noted that Duke is probably the most despised college basketball program in the nation. This is largely because of the student body’s perceived wealth, a sense among fans that officials give them overwhelmingly favorable calls, and their long history of standout players that come across as rich white kids who more belong on a lacrosse team.  

So to Bay Area college basketball fans, those expensive tickets to see Coach K have his career finished off would, in fact, be priceless.

Related: USF Dons Basketball Team Makes March Madness for the First Time Since 1998 [SFist]

Image: @ChaseCenter via Twitter