Las Vegas is home to only one college basketball team. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels plays its home games just off the Vegas Strip at the Thomas & Mack Center. This might be the only game in town for most of the regular college basketball season. However, Las Vegas explodes with college hoops after the regular season is over.
March Madness in Las Vegas is real and it’s fantastic. The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the best times for a sports fan in Las Vegas. The first weekend of March Madness beginning on March 19 with a full day of games is one of the busiest weekends of the year in Las Vegas.
The madness actually begins in Las Vegas before the NCAA basketball tournament begins on March 17 with play-in games.
The real madness in Las Vegas starts at the beginning of March with conference championship tournaments. Not only can you watch men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments in person, but you can wager on the games in the casinos. Actually, you don’t even have to go into a casino to wager with a mobile betting app. Mobile betting works anywhere in the state of Nevada. You can wager from a game, pool, while shopping – wherever you happen to be.
Four Conferences Play Tournaments In Las Vegas
Next year, four men’s and women’s basketball conference championship tournaments will take place in Las Vegas. UNLV will once again host its conferences tournament games. The other three college conferences that will play their tournaments in Las Vegas have no ties to the city.
The dates for the different college basketball conference tournaments are below:
- March 1-4: Mountain West Women – Thomas & Mack Center
- March 4-7: Mountain West Men – Thomas & Mack Center
- March 5-8: Pac 12 Women – Mandalay Bay Events Center
- March 5-10: West Coast Conference (Men & Women) – The Orleans Arena
- March 11-14: Pac 12 Men – T-Mobile Arena
- March 11-4: Western Athletic Conference (Men & Women) – The Orleans Arena
The conference tournaments are a great time for college basketball fans to visit Las Vegas. There are so many games to watch in person. Additionally, there are other conference tournaments being played on the TV’s in the sportsbooks.
The week before March Madness has become a favorite of basketball fans and bettors alike. Conference tournament week is a fairly normal time in Las Vegas. It’s easy to find a seat in a sportsbook. There aren’t lines to wait to place a wager. Prices aren’t increased to gouge the larger crowds in Las Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness.
Experienced college basketball bettors seem to prefer this to the first weekend of March Madness. In addition to Las Vegas being less busy and expensive, the lines aren’t as affected by the mass amount of public wagering. This makes betting a bit more normal than during the first weekend of March Madness.
March Madness In Las Vegas Really Is Madness
The first weekend of March Madness in Las Vegas is insane. Like bananas. Hotels will be sold out or near capacity. I recommend making reservations before 2020. Rates will continue to increase as there are fewer rooms available. Even casino discounts and comps will be gone before the NCAA tournament unless you’re a legitimate high roller.
Restaurants – especially steakhouses – will be full in advance of the weekend. The first weekend of March Madness brings lots of men to Vegas. Dudes love a good steak. Just about every entertainment venue will be packed with many popular shows or concerts selling out in advance. I haven’t even mentioned the basketball games being played.
The first weekend of March Madness is even crazier for basketball fans and bettors. Watching the games during the first weekend of March Madness isn’t as simple as just going to a sportsbook or bar. While there are TV’s everywhere, seating is limited or entirely reserved.
For example, Caesars Palace only allows guests to sit in its sportsbook if they’ve paid to reserve a seat in advance. Bars and restaurants might require a reservation that has a minimum spend on food and beverage for the games.
Public seating is so limited that many casinos have watch parties. Depending on the casino the price can range as high as a couple of hundred dollars per day. There are options away from the Vegas Strip that will don’t have fees for the parties.
There will be lines to wager on March Madness games. I strongly recommend funding a mobile wagering account to you can bet from your phone. This cuts down on the standing around. Nobody visits Las Vegas to stand around.
March College Basketball In Las Vegas
There’s nothing like watching and wagering on college basketball in Las Vegas during March Madness. Even though you can bet on sports in other locations, the casinos and entertainment venues step their games up.
Better entertainment after the games are over is one reason to visit Las Vegas during the first weekend of March Madness. It’s also Spring Break for many colleges. The games are fun, but you can also enjoy fun in the sun if you need a break from the madness.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.
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