Going ‘Mad’ in Vegas: College Basketball Superfans can Catch all the Action on the Strip
There’s no better place to watch or wager on college basketball’s famed bracket championship than Las Vegas. With myriad sportsbooks and viewing parties to choose from, the only dilemma for college hoops fans is just where in the city to enjoy this year’s NCAA D1 Men’s Tournament, which runs March 15-April 4, 2022. We looked at some prime Sin City spots for edge-of-your-seat roundball action.
TAP Sports Bar at MGM Grand
Its walls adorned with evocative memorabilia, from Stanley Cup sticks to UFC belts, TAP makes an appropriately atmospheric collegiate sports bar HQ. There are 60" high-definition TVs to yell at and if you want to put your money where your mouth is, the MGM Grand sportsbook is just steps away.
Hoops Mania at the Hard Rock Cafe
For $300 daily, or $675 for a three-day pass, the Hard Rock Café's opening weekend Hoops Mania includes guaranteed pre-assigned seating, a premium open bar and a buffet. March 20 is Hoops Mania SUNDAY, with the same seating and bar, plus four food tickets for $250. BetMGM Sportsbook at Mandalay Bay With seating for 300 and open at least 12 hours a day, the Mandalay Bar sportsbook is a must-visit for any “madness” you need solved. Enjoy all the action on 84 screens, make the most of some of the highest betting limits in town, then catch your breath (and a bite) at the Sportsbook Grill.
Brackets and Beer at The Still at The Mirage
Located at the heart of The Mirage, The Still is an 8,000-square-foot ultimate sports cave and athletics junkie heaven. Its “Brackets and Beer 2022" watch party starts at just a $50 food and beverage minimum per multiple-hour sessions (9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. or 3:15 to 9 p.m.), with prices increasing depending on the date.
Cosmopolitan Belmont Ballroom
The Cosmopolitan’s “Hoops & Hops” event is perhaps the most immersive opening weekend experience, situated amidst giant high-definition projection screens in the massive, 40,000-square-foot Belmont Ballroom. Single-day, open-bar passes are $300 on Thursday and Friday, or $150 on Saturday. Blondies Sports Bar & Grill at Miracle Mile Shops One of the Strip’s most vibrant sports bars, Blondies will be hosting morning and evening sessions over opening weekend. A $100 food and beverage minimum per person, paid upfront, reserves you a seat for a session and will be deducted from your bill.
Westgate Las Vegas International Theatre
Hoops Central 2022 at Westgate Las Vegas offers a smoke-free opening weekend experience at its International Theatre featuring four huge screens, satellite betting stations, and a free beer with each ticket. Seats are $50 on the main floor; $40 on the balcony.
LAS VEGAS: AMERICAN SPORTS MECCA?
For years, professional sports teams avoided the rapidly growing Las Vegas region due to attitudes about legalized gaming influencing their behavior. Since the mid 2000s, those thoughts have evolved, with many leagues reconsidering how they approach sports wagers and even creating partnerships with booking apps and casinos. Now, with a thriving metropolis, Vegas has welcomed not one, but three professional teams to the Strip area, with the possibility of more to come.
• Between 2017 and 2020, Vegas went from being a pro sports wasteland to hosting the NHL’s Golden Knights, the WNBA’s Aces, and the NFL’s Raiders.
• There have often been rumors of NBA interest in the area, baseball’s Oakland A’s have long been floating the idea of a new Vegas home, and the city’s also thrown its hat in for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.
• Underlining Sin City’s soaring status as a pro sports hub, it hosted the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, and the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl on consecutive days this February.
By Paul Rogers, Vegas Guide Writer