You’ve filled out your bracket, bought your Costco-sized bags of Doritos and tubs of French onion dip, and now you’re ready.
Bring it on.
The madness begins. And it won’t end until the evening of April 3rd, when one team walks off the hardwood victoriously clutching the scissored net as “One Shining Moment” plays, and the other team walks off blubbering like over-stimulated toddlers leaving a Chucky Cheese at closing time. So here is a far-from-comprehensive, moderately helpful list of places to watch, places to play, and a few suggestions for getting through the Tournament this year with your sanity—if not your dignity—intact.
Fun fact for you, both Brent Musburger, retired ESPN and ABC sportscaster, and the Illinois High School Association claimed ownership of the term “March Madness.” It was “settled” in a 1996 courtroom when the judge granted each party its own separate rights to the “dual-use trademark.” No winner, no loser, everybody gets a trophy. Sheesh.
Another fun fact, your odds of filling out a perfect bracket are lower than 1 in 9.2 quintillion according to Wallethub. But we’re sure it was worth the agonizing, the hand-wringing, and the 36 hours of research you did when you were supposed to be working on your taxes. And the winner in your office will probably be the person who let his kid make his picks based on his favorite animals anyway. But that’s the point: it’s madness. Just relax, enjoy the ride, and don’t get too worked up about it.
Where to Watch
If you’re watching at home, CBS is televising 24 games including the Final Four and the national championship. The rest of the games are on TBS, TNT, and truTV. If you’re watching at work, the NCAA site is your best bet—you can watch the CBS games and there’s a free three-hour pass to watch anything else. To watch all the games on your TV, computer, tablet, and phone, you’ll need an HDMI cable, a telecommunications degree, and a brother-in-law that works for the cable company. CNET tries to break it all down for you here.
Then again, maybe you should just head down to the local sports bar. Here are a few popular watering holes to catch the Tournament in The City:
- Golden Gate Tap Room – 449 Powell Street at Sutter in Union Square
Over 20 screens and beers from around the world. Plus, when your team’s not playing (or not playing well) there are games galore including Skeeball, foosball, and pool.
- San Francisco Athletic Club – 1750 Divisadero Street at Bush in Hayes Valley
A great neighborhood sports bar with good bar food. And you can order a bathtub full of beer. Well, full of bottles of beer. Not literally a beer bath. That would be gross.
- Mad Dog in the Fog – 530 Haight St between Steiner St. and Fillmore St. in Lower Haight
An English pub frequented by soccer aficionados, but a great place to watch hoops. Plus, for private groups of eight, they have a tap-equipped table so you can draw your own beer whenever you want. What could possibly go wrong?
Photo by Rick Audet
- Kezar Pub – 770 Stanyan Street in Cole Valley
A sports bar/Irish pub, not to be confused with Kezar Bar and Restaurant on Cole (which is a quarter mile away, so it’s not confusing at all). They have twenty beers on draft and excellent wings.
Photo by Eric E. Castro
Where to Play
This might be in the wrong order, and we don’t condone getting all liquored up before going out to look for a pick-up game, but here are some of the best places to actually play basketball in The City. There are tons of local neighborhood courts to shoot some hoops, many tucked away in unlikely places.
- Willy Woo Woo Wong Playground in Chinatown at 830 Sacramento Street
- Michelangelo Playground in Russian Hill at Greenwich and Jones
- Union Square Park in Union Square at 323 Geary Street
- Boeddeker Park in Tenderloin at 295 Eddy Street
- Panhandle Basketball Courts in Nopa at Stanyon and Fell
For something a little more competitive, check out some of the recreation centers around town.
- Potrero Hill Recreation Center in Potrero Hill at 801 Arkansas Street
Indoor courts and plenty of action. Outside, some of the best views of the bay and the Oakland hills.
- Moscone Recreation Center in Marina District at 1800 Chestnut Street
Indoor and outdoor courts with pick-up games in the gym every Monday and Wednesday.
- Sunset Recreation Center in Outer Sunset at 2201 Lawton Street
Six full indoor courts that are almost always busy.
So put on your sweat bands, grab the Gatorade, and get out there and watch/play some hoops. This might be your year to go all the way to the national championship game—or to the emergency room.