San Jose, Calif. Take it from Chris Kaufman, Rich Littrell and Chris Green.
Scoring tickets for tournament venues - in Kansas City, Dallas, New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and, yes, even San Jose, Calif. - simply is a matter of patience, perseverance and playing the angles.
"We've gone to tournaments about 10 times as a group," said Kaufman, a 2005 KU graduate who now works as an admissions counselor on Mount Oread. "We've never missed out."
When it comes to securing seats, they say, here's the ticket:
¢ Check with the box office. Other schools often turn in unsold seats.
¢ Hang out where people do. Oftentimes corporations give tickets to their employees, clients and others. "They just come and dump 'em," Green said. "They'll take face. They don't care."
¢ Take advantage. Fans of teams that lose on the first day often look to sell as soon as they can, even before they leave the arena. "It helps them feel better about themselves to sell," Kaufman said.
The crew already is putting its time-tested principles to work in San Jose, and aims to continue through Atlanta.
¢ Buy low, sell high: Jim Clausen is a KU fan for one simple reason: He's looking to unload 200 "THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS" ticket holders, the kind of around-the-neck ribbons and plastic covers that gain popularity in the postseason as fans try to keep track of their tickets and keep them pristine as collectibles.
Clausen bought 200 of them from a disappointed vendor last year in Detroit, after KU lost in the first round to Bradley. He paid $1.50 for each one.
Now he's turning them around for $5 each, and business is good.
"KU fans travel and they spend money," said Clausen, of Major Products, a sports memorabilia company in the Bay Area. "They'll buy anything that they haven't seen before. They represent."
¢ Playing cards: The only losing Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers have suffered thus far in the NCAA Tournament has come at the hands of teammates Darrell Arthur and Jeremy Case.
The two starters on the Kansas basketball team have dropped three games of Spades to the reserves, who figure to continue their winning streak today at the Fairmont Hotel.
"Me and Case are the best," said Arthur, who scored nine points in the game that mattered, the one against Southern Illinois. "Down here, we're 3-0. In Chicago we were 0-2. So we own California."
From a nearby seat in the locker room and between interviews about the basketball game, Rush - who had 12 points to lead all scorers - laughed off Arthur's boasting.
"They have all the cards," Rush said. "They have all the best cards."
Arthur said he'd spend today resting his legs and otherwise trying not to become too focused on Saturday's game until the time is right.
After all, there are more Spades to be played.
"It's fun playing," he said. "We laugh a lot, and it keeps our minds free."
¢ Love that pressure: Norma Ewing figures she was having a heart attack.
For five minutes.
It wasn't until after Julian Wright missed a couple free throws - and a last-second shot from Southern Illinois' Jamaal Tatum caromed harmlessly off the backboard - that Ewing finally could reclaim the robust health that's kept her going for 81 years now, including the past 37 attending KU games.
While her personal wellness never really was in jeopardy, her hoops longevity certainly was.
"We're all worn out," she acknowledged after the game, smiling in her seat a few rows behind the KU bench at HP Pavilion. "But I feel blessed."
Ewing, a Topeka resident, attended the game with her two daughters, Louise Poehlman and Linda Lungstrum, both of whom are KU grads. They're all looking forward to Saturday's game.
"We're all set up to go to Atlanta," Ewing said. "I love this team."
¢ Close call: Richard and Virginia Owen figure that their Jayhawks finally are in position to make the Final Four run that fellow crimson-and-blue followers have been hoping for all season.
Pulling out a close, 61-58 slugfest like Thursday evening's Sweet 16 matchup against Southern Illinois can do that.
"You have to have these close games when you're in these tournaments," said Richard Owen, a Mission Hills resident who's been attending games for 20 years. "You have to have that close game, and this was it."