March Madness begins in Peoria - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

March Madness begins in Peoria

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

For the 23rd consecutive year, let the madness begin! 

Friday officially kicks off America's original March Madness, as the boys basketball state tournament starts in Peoria. 

All eight teams participating in this weekend's small school tournament got into town Thursday, and spent time on the court preparing for this weekend's games.

Madness officials say they hope you come out to enjoy great high school basketball action. 

"First of all, in the arena itself is some of the best basketball you'll see across the United States. But in the exhibit hall, is the March Madness Experience. That is where all the basketball oriented games events, and challenges go on," said Dave DeFreitas, who is the Vice-Chair of the IHSA Steering committee.

We do have one local team playing in this year's tournament.

That is the Bloomington Central Catholic Saints, who will play Chicago Orr Friday night at 7:15 pm.

Officials say it is all in the same when it comes to local and non-local teams competing in the tournament. 

"You know, that has been the debate for many many years. When you have a local team that is driving in, and driving out after, the restaurants and hotels don't benefit as much from that. But its also some from the teams from Chicago, they don't bring that many fans either. So its a toss up," said Don Welch, who is the CEO and President of the Peoria Area Convention Bureau.

The games tip off Friday at 11 AM, and on Saturday at 12 Noon. 

CityLink is helping out those needing to go to and from the games from their hotels.

For the next two weekends, CityLink will offer shuttles, which will pick people up in 20 to 30 minute increments.

Those will begin at 9:30 AM, and run through 11:00 PM.

 If you are coming into town for the tournament, note that some roads will be impacted.

That is because school and charter buses will be picking up and dropping off both players and fans for the games.

Those intersections impacted include Jefferson and Harrison, Jefferson and Liberty, Gwynn Avenue and Kumpf, Busey Bank and Kumpf, R.B. Garrett and Kumpf, Monroe and Fulton, and Madison and Fulton.

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