10:06 p.m. update: Here's a video recap of what went on between sessions in downtown Buffalo today:
7:31 p.m. update: According to a group of Syracuse fans grabbing a quick bite before heading back to the arena, the Morgan State mascot was the highlight of the first half of the day.
"He's the best mascot I've ever seen," said Ted Ricks of Rochester. "He was better than the game."
Ricks also commended Buffalo for being a great tournament host this year.
"The fact that they put people on every corner all the way down at the stops to help guide people to the different restaurants I thought was fantastic. They just really made everybody feel welcomed. It was good. And they ordered the nice weather for us."
7:26 p.m. update: The bar at Venue on Chippewa is being occupied by small, but proud crowd of West Virginia fans. "This is the official West Virginia bar!" shouted the owner when a group of patrons walked in.
6:37 p.m. update: As many orange-clad fans make their way back to HSBC Arena for the evening games, some of the bars on Chippewa remain packed. Jack Devine's Irish Pub, Croc Bar, and Soho are especially busy, with many patrons enjoying beverages and conversation outside. ---LNM
6:10 p.m. update: Soho's music is going and the drinks are flowing like a regular Saturday night. I even spotted Jack Stresing, a former contestant on the A&E show, "Confessions of a matchmaker."
"Can't wait to for Syracuse to win tonight," said Stresing, who had just eaten dinner at Papaya.
Croc Bar on Chippewa was also packed. They are now offering a free buffet full of beef on weck sandwiches, wings, and other Buffalo treats.
If you still haven't eaten and you're looking for something quick and easy, Spot Coffee offers a variety of sandwiches and isn't too busy right now. ---LNM
5:49 p.m. update: There's still a little activity in the vicinity of the arena. Just ask the hot dog stand operators at Washington and Scott, and Washington and Perry. If you're looking for a really quick, cheap meal, you can't beat it.
Just overheard a scalper on the phone setting prices for tonight's games.
Some pairs are going in the $300, $350, $400 range, particularly for club or lower level, according to this particular salesman.
A police officer just asked the seller to cross to the north side of Scott Street on Washington. ---AB
5:41 p.m. update: It's not exactly radio row, like at the Super Bowl, but...
A slew of television trucks have been lined up on the west side of HSBC Arena.
There's a Fox affiliate from Albany, a few stations from Rochester, as well as stations from Clarksburg, W. Va., Burlington, Vt., and near Columbia, Mo. ---AB
5:33 p.m. update: D'Arcy Mc Gee's Irish Pub at 257 Franklin St. is pretty busy and is booked with reservations. If you're looking for more than just the bar, steer clear until 7 p.m. ---LNM
5:30 p.m. update: There are still some fans waiting for the metro rail. A few minutes ago, there were about 80. Another train has since pulled up, and it looks like most people will fit on it. ---AB
5:28 p.m. update: The Buffalo Chophouse at 282 Franklin St. is busy, but not out of the question for those still looking for a place to grab a bite during the break. The hostess said they are accepting walk-ins and that the wait should be shorter after 6:30 p.m. ---LNM
5:15 p.m. update: The Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant on the corner of Franklin and W. Chippewa streets has plenty of open tables and is accepting walk-in guests. ---LNM
5:11 p.m. update: The arena exodus is on.
Fans have jammed the metro rail trains outside the arena.
The last train was packed for a few minutes before it started moving. An empty train was waiting behind it, and is now moving forward. ---AB
5:07 p.m. update:
The bar at Jack Devine's Irish Pub on Chippewa is loaded with Syracuse fans catching the Wofford-Wisconsin game before their Orange take the court at HSBC Arena tonight.
Adam Tornabene, 26, and Meredith Marquez, 27, of Norwalk, Conn., drove seven hours through the night to get here in time for the first game today.
"We got to the hotel around 3 a.m." said Marquez, a 2005 Syracuse graduate. "We couldn't sleep we were so excited."
Marquez said she and Tornabene expected Syracuse to be sent somewhere in the south this year. "When we found out it was in Buffalo we said, 'OK, we can drive that. We're going.'"
Tornabene, who grew up in Canestota, and whose orange leather jacket was hanging from the back of his bar stool, said he purchased their tournament tickets on Craigslist on Sunday. "Bought the tickets Sunday, booked the hotel Tuesday, got here Thursday. Well, actually Friday morning."
Jack Devine's offers $2.50 well drinks until 7 p.m. and serves one of Buffalo's specialties -- beef on weck. ---LNM
5 p.m. update: The rush is almost here, as the crowd is starting to leak out of the arena.
Some fans are hopping on the NFTA's metro rail. One train just left, and an empty one, four cars long, has just pulled up. ---AB
4:40 p.m. update: Of the eight venues hosting preliminary round action in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, tickets for the games in Buffalo are the highest grossing on StubHub. Read more. ---AB
4:34 p.m. update: Same goes for Ditondo's, located across the street. Reservations only. Full till about 7:30 p.m. ---AB
4:33 p.m. update: Chef's Restaurant, 291 Seneca St., will only serve patrons with reservations tonight, so no walk-in meals for tournament-goers.
As of five minutes ago, the earliest reservation available is for 7:30 p.m. ---AB
4:24 p.m. update: If you're looking for a spot to eat with a short wait time and plenty of televisions, venture down to Chippewa. The rush hasn't quite hit yet and most of the restaurants down here have plenty of seating and right now. ---LNM
4:05 p.m. update: The foot traffic on Chippewa Street is starting to pick up, with restaurants and bars boasting large welcome signs and drink specials in their front windows. Buffalo may not be known for its Mexican food, but Salsarita's on the corner of Chippewa and Delaware Avenue is welcoming sports fans with a large sign promoting "Margarita Madness" -- $2.99 margaritas until 11 p.m.
3:44 p.m. update: The line of taxis has grown to about 10 right across the street from the arena's front door.
3:24 p.m. update: I stopped Josh Adkison walking down Washington Street a few minutes ago.
Adkison, wearing a blue Gonzaga t-shirt, was walking with his mother, Kim Adkison, towards HSBC Arena.
They got into town Wednesday, and visited Niagara Falls on Thursday, he said.
They've also been to the Anchor Bar and Chef's, saying they got the ideas from talking to people at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Josh had never been to Buffalo before, and the two are leaving tomorrow.
"It's better than I expected," Josh Adkison said, noting what he knows of Buffalo's reputation.
But since coming here, the Queen City is having an effect on him.
"We've enjoyed it a lot," he said. "I wouldn't mind coming back."
3:13 p.m. update: The ticket market is alive and well.
If you want to get into the Clemson-Missouri game, which started about a half hour ago, tickets are relatively "cheap," some scalpers have said. I was offered a ticket for $30.
But if you want to go to tonight's games, including the Syracuse-Vermont matchup, good tickets will cost from $200 to $300, according to one sidewalk salesman.
2:45 p.m. update: For everything related to today's NCAA Tournament games in Buffalo, check out the Buffalo News' Tournament Central.
Review today's live blog from the West Virginia-Morgan State game at the Campus Watch blog.
Also, check out Rodney McKissic's take on West Virginia's win.
2:40 p.m. update: Call it the calm before the storm at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery.
You'd have no trouble grabbing a table if you walked in right now, as a small group of West Virginia fans just did.
Space will be at a premium here, and probably at most downtown eateries, after the Clemson-Missouri game lets out of HSBC Arena. T'hat game's scheduled to tipoff in about 10 minutes.
Orange is the dominant color inside Pearl Street right now, though there are a couple people with yellow Siena t-shirts on.
2:11 p.m. update: Anybody looking for a cab on the way out of HSBC will find them on Perry Street in front of the HSBC bank building. There are three there right now.
Those looking for info on restaurants and public transportation, there's an information tent and people handing out fliers at the corner of Washington and Perry, across the street from the arena's main entrance.
1:47 p.m. update: In case you need a map of the area around the arena, click here.
1:34 p.m. update: Still trying to decide where you want to go to grab some food and drink in between sessions?
Check out the News' rundown of offerings around the arena and downtown.
1:25 p.m. update: It's pretty calm -- relatively speaking -- on the streets outside the arena.
Scalpers are still around, mostly talking with each other.
For those that don't want to wait for a seat, a sign outside W.J. Morrissey's says the restaurant is offering bagged lunches.
12:39 p.m. update: The beer is flowing and the TVs are lit up in the bars on Mississippi Street.
In Cobblestone Tavern, which has an outdoor patio and tent in the back, patrons were still enjoying beverages even though the action's already started in the arena.
"Let the crowds go and then just walk through," said John Nelson of Lancaster, describing why he and two friends weren't inside yet.
Nelson, along with Richard Zynda of Cheektowaga and his son, from Wichita, Kan., have been to every NCAA tournament in Buffalo ('00, '04 and '07).
Zynda's son, who didn't want to give his name for fear of an unnamed person finding out where he is, was born here and said he's rooting for Syracuse.
Just down the street in Benchwarmers, there are a couple dozen people inside the bar. Three tables are filled, and there's rock music booming from the "jumbotron" hanging from the ceiling.
There's also a few people taking in the atmosphere from the front patio.
12:10 p.m. update: The stream of fans heading into HSBC has slowed, but it looks like there's still a good amount of people who haven't made it inside yet.
12:04 p.m. update: The News' reporters in the arena will be blogging during the first game, West Virginia vs. Morgan State over at the Campus Watch blog.
12:01 p.m. update: With tipoff of the first game about 15 minutes away, fans continue to flock to the arena.
Some people are getting a little testy as moving in traffic becomes more difficult in the blocks closest to the arena.
A ton of last-minute ticket deals are going down.
The anthems are being performed, and the PA system is being pumped outside the arena.
11:45 a.m. update: Traffic is sticky on Swan Street in front of Coca-Cola Field. It's also slow getting off the I-190 at Elm.
A scalper just offered me two 300-level tickets for the early session for $100. Looks like a lot of people are willing to go face value or lower.
11:27 a.m. update: Traffic is starting to get a little messy near Michigan Avenue and Scott Street.
There are some ticket sellers working their magic at Pearl and Seneca streets, too.
11:19 a.m. update: The News' Mike Harrington keeps you up to date inside the arena at the Campus Watch blog.
11:15 a.m. update: A quick survey of your friendly neighborhood scalpers revealed you might be able to grab two center court tickets for tonight's session for $125 each.
A couple people were selling the first session's tickets at face value, or $73.
11:03 a.m. update: The march of fans is on down Washington Street towards the arena. The orange of Syracuse fans is becoming much more prevalent.
There are a lot of spaces left at the former Donovan Building (Washington Street between Scott and Exchange streets). But the pricetag is pretty hefty -- $30.
Ticket scalpers can be found everywhere. If you don't see any, just listen -- they'll probably be yelling soon.
10:43 a.m. update: Traffic is flowing pretty freely around the arena.
The lot on Perry and Mississippi streets has a lot of room left. it's even got a small band of tailgaters.
Benchwarmers on Mississippi already has patrons at every table.
10:32 a.m. update: If you don't have tickets for today's games, it will not be hard to find people trying to sell you theirs on the streets around the arena. Washington Street and Perry Street are home to lots of sellers this morning.
The only thing that might outnumber scalpers at this minute are West Virginia fans wearing their team's colors.
There are still parking spaces in the lot right in front of the arena (on Washington between Perry and Scott streets), but not many.
10:20 a.m. update: The Buffalo News' Campus Watch Blog will keep you on top of everything on and off the court today.
Here's what made it to print today.
10:13 a.m.: With tipoff of the first game about two hours away, the parking lots around HSBC Arena are beginning to fill.
From the Elm Street exit off the I-190 to my parking spot on Scott Street, it seemed like a small army flag wavers were trying to lure vehicles. I passed two people with signs looking for tickets.
It looks like the lots near Michigan Avenue are charging $20 to $25 for a spot.