NEW YORK (AP) — Madison Square Garden gets together again with the NCAA tournament this weekend for the first time in 53 years.

It was 1961 when three first-round games were played at the Garden, known as the "Mecca" of college basketball. Nobody knew then that it would be more than five decades before the sport's grand stage would return.

The presence of the NIT, which started at MSG, was a big reason the NCAA tournament never came back.

But in August 2008, the NCAA bought the NIT as part of a settlement of a legal fight between the two organizations, and plans started almost immediately for Madison Square Garden to be involved with both tournaments.

On Friday night, Virginia meets Michigan State and Connecticut faces Iowa State in the East Regional semifinals.

The NCAA tournament is back in the building that has hosted 71 games, including seven that decided the national championship.

The NIT final four begins Tuesday with the Minnesota Gophers taking on Florida State and Clemson playing SMU.