Get through the limbo that exists between the end of winter and the start of spring by succumbing to the basketball madness. The Big 10 conference’s men’s basketball tournament is already underway, but the NCAA Tournament won’t begin until Sunday, March 15. And if you’re in Omaha—you know we’ve been celebrating for months already.
Omaha will actually play host to games in the first two rounds of the tournament, on March 20th and 22nd at the CHI Health Center—and we couldn’t be more excited. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up a few things you should do during the tournament, from heading to a local sports bar to cheer on your chosen team to hosting your very own viewing party with the help of some local businesses.
Watch a game at a local sports bar
One of our favorite ways to watch a game is with other friends and fans at a local sports bar. Not only does it give you a place to express your true passions and fully embrace the fun of the game, but they are also ripe with cold brews, hot wings and big-screen TVs. Luckily, we have a comprehensive list of the best sports bars in the Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln area that includes popular spots like Union Pizzeria & Sports Bar, the Buck Snort Bar & Grill and Barry’s Bar and Grill. Get the full guide here!
Go to a viewing party
There’s nothing like joining in the excitement among friends and other basketball fans at a fun event. Thankfully, several Omaha establishments are hosting get-togethers to celebrate the NCAA Tournament—featuring cold beer, live music and a few opportunities to raise money for charity!
When: March 19, 3-9 p.m.
To celebrate the 2020 NCAA Tournament, one of Elkhorn’s newest cocktail bars is throwing a kick-off party—and you’re invited! Enjoy watching the beginning of the tournament in a classy, upscale environment with great drinks, delicious food and so much more.
Where: Stocks n Bonds Omaha
When: March 21, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Celebrate both basketball and St. Patrick’s Day with this special event at Stocks n Bonds in Omaha! Local band Sinners n Saints will be there to entertain you while you enjoy the game among other basketball fans. Drinks, live music and college basketball all in one place? Sign us up!
Where: UNO Scott Conference Center
When: March 28, 4-10 p.m.
Join the Service League for their annual Big Basketball Bash, an interactive basketball viewing party that benefits the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands. Enjoy watching the game via massive projection screens so you won’t miss any of the action; indulge in a variety of hearty appetizers and snacks; participate in a silent charity auction and other games; and so much more! You can learn more about this fun event and purchase your tickets here.
Or host your own—and get it catered
If you’re planning on hosting your own viewing party during the tournament and the thought of preparing all the food seems overwhelming, why not get it catered? There are some amazing caterers in the Omaha area that will make hosting your event as easy as pie.
Barbecue is always a fan favorite, which is why we had to include a smoked meat staple on the list. The scratch-made meals from time-honored family recipes are sure to make any event special. Order a family-style dinner a la carte, or choose the per-person buffet option. Either way, make sure you get some of that brisket!
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Beacon Hills offers globally influenced American cuisine served with Midwest hospitality. The food is anything but forgettable, and every item is made from scratch and with passion. The catering menu is vast and customizable, but a few of the standout items include smoked kielbasa crostini, cheesesteak egg rolls, tomato basil chicken, five cheese lasagna and beef enchiladas. It all sounds so good — we wouldn’t even know where to begin! Luckily, a trained staff member is ready to guide you through the options and help you pick a menu to impress.
If it’s soul food you’re after, look no further than Big Mama’s Kitchen & Catering. Your guests will enjoy a full gauntlet of carefully crafted Southern delicacies, including fried okra with plum sauce, tender fried catfish, cornbread with honey butter, fried chicken and more. It’s no wonder this place was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!
Since 1996, Upstream Brewing has been serving in-house, crafted brews alongside artisan pub fare. Their extensive catering menu includes a variety of hors d’oeuvres, plated meals, buffet dishes, party platters and scrumptious desserts. Plus, you can grab a few growlers of freshly brewed beer to help wash it all down.
Play some basketball for yourself
We’ve all been there. There’s something about watching all those athletes running back and forth across the court that makes you want to get up and do something! Luckily, Omaha is home to several open gyms so even if you don’t have a basketball hoop in your driveway, you can still play a little ball.
With nine locations around the Omaha area, the YMCA is one of the most convenient places to workout in the city. If you’re a member, you’re welcome to visit one of the locations during their open gym times and shoot some hoops. Each location has different open gym times, so make sure to check out this list to see when you’re able to visit!
Photo courtesy of The Mark
The Mark, one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon with the family, now has brand new indoor courts for you to enjoy! Shoot some hoops, spike some volleyballs, or host an event. They even have a state-of-the-art scoring system, so you’ll never lose track of who’s winning. You can reserve a half or full court by visiting The Mark’s website.
The Saddlebrook Community Center is a great (and affordable!) spot to play a few games! They offer multiple open gym times every day. Open to all, you can register for a spot at the front desk—adults cost $3 and youth are free. You can find the current month’s schedule here.
Go to the Omaha games!
The NCAA Tournament is once again coming to Omaha! The road to the final four stops in Omaha on March 20th and 22nd at the CHI Health Center. Tickets are selling very quickly, so make sure to grab yours before they’re gone!
How are you planning on celebrating?
Let us know where, when and how you’re planning on enjoying the tournament in the comments!