Kentucky fans react after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Wisconsin Saturday, April 4, 2015, in Indianapolis. Wisconsin won 71-64. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall
April 05, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) At the Final Four, when the games end, the wheeling and dealing begins. Sometimes even BEFORE the games end.

Many fans buy tickets to Saturday night's semifinal doubleheader and the championship game on Monday, hoping to watch their team win an NCAA tournament title. When those dreams don't work out, the losers get together with the winners and try to ease the pain by salvaging a few bucks.

''Very little,'' Kentucky fan Sandy Williams said. ''Maybe enough to go to the casino tomorrow and play a little black jack, and then go home.''

The Wildcats historic season came to an unexpected end with a 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the second game of Saturday night's doubleheader.

That sent Wisconsin's fans into the halls of Lucas Oil Stadium looking for tickets to the championship game against Duke. The Badgers haven't won a national title since 1941. If Kentucky fans were looking to get rid of tickets, there were plenty of easy-to-spot, red-clad buyers whooping it up.

A guy over here holding two fingers up. Another guy holding up four. Tyler Hubbard from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, just held up a sign with ''Need 2 Tickets'' and stood right in front of the exit doors.

''We had to find out about the different laws,'' Hubbard said. Selling the tickets is allowed in Indiana with some restrictions on price depending on how close to the venue the deal is made.

Deals were being made before fans even left the building. It was easy to spot the transactions. Just look for the crowds of blue and red looking at cellphones. Lots of e-tickets out there that must be emailed from one smartphone to another.

''And hopefully it will work,'' said Wisconsin fan Mitch Kahn from Chicago. He only bought for Saturday night because he knew tickets for Monday would be no problem.

''We've done it the other way where we've been here twice before and sold'em,'' he said. ''Monday's ticket is not a tough ticket. Because there's about 30,000 people going home.''

After Duke pounded Michigan State 81-61 in the first game, Spartans fans became quite popular with their Blue Devils counterparts and supporters of Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Steven Neville from Michigan and his friend from New York didn't even have to leave their seats to find a buyer and recoup the $350 he spent on tickets. Just like game, the deal was done with time still left on the clock.

''We had a gentleman come up to us with about four minutes left in the Michigan State and asked them if we were selling,'' Neville said.

Outside the arena the scalpers were trying to swing some deals, too, with Michigan State and Kentucky fans in their sights. Pretty much everybody leaving the arena in Spartans or Wildcats gear was guaranteed to be asked, ''Selling tickets?''

But if you were, you probably didn't have to leave the arena.

Mike Ruiz, a Duke fan from Fort Wayne, Indiana, strolled around the inside of Lucas Oil Stadium after watching him team win, one finger up. It worked for him the last time Duke came to Indianapolis for the Final Four and ended up winning beating Butler in the championship game. Ruiz wasn't going to break the bank to see his Blue Devils again.

''200 or less,'' he said.

As the Kentucky-Wisconsin game started, two Michigan State fans were talking with two young boys in Spartans attire about whether they wanted to get rid of their tickets. It did not seem like a pleasant conversation. At least not one the adults wanted to share with a curious passer-by.

At the end of the night, outside the building, loud and clear over public address system a recorded message played: ''Visit the official NCAA ticket exchange at NCAA.com slash exchange.''

As that announcement played, Williams, from Ashland, Kentucky, and a Badgers fan leaned up against the walls of Lucas Oil Stadium and completed their e-deal.

---

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

You May Like