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Sister Jean wants Chicago to embrace her Loyola Ramblers.
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Where to Watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament

The most “normal” March Madness in years

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Sister Jean wants Chicago to embrace her Loyola Ramblers.
| Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

College basketball’s championship tournaments return this year with full fan attendance that feels more in step with contests of years past. The women’s tournament starts March 18 with the Final Four taking place on March 25 and the final on March 27. The men’s tournament starts March 15 with the Final Four on April 2 with the championship on April 4.

Typically, these are some of the busiest weeks for Chicago’s bars. Part of that is March is typically when winter weather subsides (though a March snowstorm is never surprising). With Chicagoans eager to leave their homes, bars provide an escape. In 2022, there’s an even greater feeling of freedom as COVID restrictions, including mask wearing, have been lifted.

Locally, there are nine colleges from the Big Ten conference in the men’s tournament, including Illinois. They find themselves in the same bracket as perennial Cinderella story Loyola. There are six Big Ten teams on the women’s side. DePaul also made it in, part of the First Four.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Cunneen's

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This Rogers Park Irish pub is near Loyola’s campus — and was founded by a Loyola grad student — and provides an ideal backdrop to cheer on the Ramblers. Find cheap beer and plenty of students crowding this space.

Surge Coffee Bar & Billiard

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The focus may be on billiards at Surge, as staff took a relic of a pool hall and modernized it. But ownership created a welcoming spot where patrons are no longer judged for watching TV or typing on their smartphone. There's coffee, specialty drinks, and pub food.

Surge gives fans fun.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

A. J. Hudson's Public House

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In Lakeview, this European-themed soccer bar is a good choice for hoops fans. There’s a solid pub food menu and plenty of TVs to catch all the action.

Park & Field

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Logan Square's temple to retro sports provides a great spot to spend tournament time. Tons of craft beer and a chef-driven bar menu make this a sports bar worthy of the neighborhood. If the weather is nice, the front patio — with fire pits — is a decent spot to hang out. Just stream the game on a phone.

A well-lit room with chandelier and wood tables.
Park & Field was one of Logan Square’s first sports bars.
Nick Fochtman/Eater Chicago

The Moonlighter

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From the folks who gave Chicago the iconic cocktail bar Scofflaw, Moonlighter is the sports bar that Logan Square didn’t think it needed. Find burgers, wings, and a killer selection of local beer.

A blue building sits far back with the words “the Moonlighter” written in yellow. In front, there is a large patio with yellow umbrellas over black tables. Two short wooden walls separate the patio from the sidewalk. The Moonlighter [Official Photo]

Lottie's Pub

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This Wisconsin and Kansas bar in Bucktown is always packed. It's also a popular setting for TV's Chicago Fire. Ownership is the Pioneer Tavern Group, also responsible for Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern.

Lottie's Pub

Joe's Bar on Weed Street

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Illinois fans know about this multi-story, cavernous venue. It’s big on table reservations, so impress friends and reserve one to catch the action. The place morphs into more of a club vibe with live music at night. There’s a lot of good people watching. This is not an intimate spot.

LG's Bar & Kitchen

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Wells Street in Old Town has no short supply of bars with young college alums spilling onto the street. In an area oversaturated with bro bars, LG’s — an offshoot of Lady Gregory’s on the North Side — is a place where sports fans who are paying attention can find a little bit of respite. Not to say LG’s won’t turn up the music later in the night, but throughout the tourney, there are plenty of food and drink specials.

Mac's Wood Grilled

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An old favorite in Wicker Park, Mac’s is a strong neighborhood pub that will put on the sound for select games. Find a strong beer selection, a tasty burger, and a no-frills atmosphere that’s comfortable for staying for the first game of the day until the nightcap.

This classy Hubbard Street bar with loyalties to Georgetown and Kansas encourages table reservations. One of those teams is relevant. Theory's got a tasty menu and wonderful service.

Theory is in River North.
Theory [Official Photo]

Radio Room

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This glitzy facelift for the former Public House in River North maintains the fun motif of its predecessor. The space gets a little wild at night, but there’s plenty of screens for sports watching, and a delicious menus of sliders and other bar snacks.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Ranalli's West Loop

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Many mourned the loss of WestEnd, a longtime sports bar near the United Center. In a pandemic era move, ownership converted that space into a pizzeria. Though it doesn’t have the same bar feeling as the old spot, Ranalli’s is an established brand and gives fans plenty to cheer for in the West Loop.

Roots Handmade Pizza - South Loop

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The Printer’s Row edition of this family favorite includes an outdoor area with a retractable roof. Find the same Quad Cities style pies that are also available in Lincoln Square, West Town, and Old Town. There’s a festive atmosphere inside, and kids are welcome.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bracket Room Sports Lounge & Eatery

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An expansion of the mini chain from the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, customers know this spot is serious about the tournament because of the name. Locals are fans of the chicken wings here.

Bracket Room [Official Photo]

Kroll's South Loop

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If you can't find a North Side Badger bar, come to Kroll's in the South Loop where cheese curds and Bucky beer buckets have a home.

Kroll’s in South Loop.
Kroll’s/Facebook

Williams Inn Pizza & Sports Bar

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Before closing its previous location, Williams Inn’s deep-dish pizza was legendary on the South Side. It has since resurfaced as a sports bar in the South Loop with the same pizza recipe and a welcoming atmosphere.

Cork & Kerry

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Perhaps this popular Beverly Irish pub will bring some luck to your favorite team. This little joint will be showing key games. The Bridgeport location also serves food.

Cork & Kerry/Facebook

Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap

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This Hyde Park dive may be popular with the University of Chicago student body, but since the division III U of C isn’t playing in the tourney, feel free to root for other teams. Catch every team vying for the title while trying many drink specials.

Cunneen's

This Rogers Park Irish pub is near Loyola’s campus — and was founded by a Loyola grad student — and provides an ideal backdrop to cheer on the Ramblers. Find cheap beer and plenty of students crowding this space.

Surge Coffee Bar & Billiard

Surge gives fans fun.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The focus may be on billiards at Surge, as staff took a relic of a pool hall and modernized it. But ownership created a welcoming spot where patrons are no longer judged for watching TV or typing on their smartphone. There's coffee, specialty drinks, and pub food.

Surge gives fans fun.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

A. J. Hudson's Public House

In Lakeview, this European-themed soccer bar is a good choice for hoops fans. There’s a solid pub food menu and plenty of TVs to catch all the action.

Park & Field

A well-lit room with chandelier and wood tables.
Park & Field was one of Logan Square’s first sports bars.
Nick Fochtman/Eater Chicago

Logan Square's temple to retro sports provides a great spot to spend tournament time. Tons of craft beer and a chef-driven bar menu make this a sports bar worthy of the neighborhood. If the weather is nice, the front patio — with fire pits — is a decent spot to hang out. Just stream the game on a phone.

A well-lit room with chandelier and wood tables.
Park & Field was one of Logan Square’s first sports bars.
Nick Fochtman/Eater Chicago

The Moonlighter

A blue building sits far back with the words “the Moonlighter” written in yellow. In front, there is a large patio with yellow umbrellas over black tables. Two short wooden walls separate the patio from the sidewalk. The Moonlighter [Official Photo]

From the folks who gave Chicago the iconic cocktail bar Scofflaw, Moonlighter is the sports bar that Logan Square didn’t think it needed. Find burgers, wings, and a killer selection of local beer.

A blue building sits far back with the words “the Moonlighter” written in yellow. In front, there is a large patio with yellow umbrellas over black tables. Two short wooden walls separate the patio from the sidewalk. The Moonlighter [Official Photo]

Lottie's Pub

Lottie's Pub

This Wisconsin and Kansas bar in Bucktown is always packed. It's also a popular setting for TV's Chicago Fire. Ownership is the Pioneer Tavern Group, also responsible for Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern.

Lottie's Pub

Joe's Bar on Weed Street

Illinois fans know about this multi-story, cavernous venue. It’s big on table reservations, so impress friends and reserve one to catch the action. The place morphs into more of a club vibe with live music at night. There’s a lot of good people watching. This is not an intimate spot.

LG's Bar & Kitchen

Wells Street in Old Town has no short supply of bars with young college alums spilling onto the street. In an area oversaturated with bro bars, LG’s — an offshoot of Lady Gregory’s on the North Side — is a place where sports fans who are paying attention can find a little bit of respite. Not to say LG’s won’t turn up the music later in the night, but throughout the tourney, there are plenty of food and drink specials.

Mac's Wood Grilled

An old favorite in Wicker Park, Mac’s is a strong neighborhood pub that will put on the sound for select games. Find a strong beer selection, a tasty burger, and a no-frills atmosphere that’s comfortable for staying for the first game of the day until the nightcap.

Theory

Theory is in River North.
Theory [Official Photo]

This classy Hubbard Street bar with loyalties to Georgetown and Kansas encourages table reservations. One of those teams is relevant. Theory's got a tasty menu and wonderful service.

Theory is in River North.
Theory [Official Photo]

Radio Room

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This glitzy facelift for the former Public House in River North maintains the fun motif of its predecessor. The space gets a little wild at night, but there’s plenty of screens for sports watching, and a delicious menus of sliders and other bar snacks.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Ranalli's West Loop

Many mourned the loss of WestEnd, a longtime sports bar near the United Center. In a pandemic era move, ownership converted that space into a pizzeria. Though it doesn’t have the same bar feeling as the old spot, Ranalli’s is an established brand and gives fans plenty to cheer for in the West Loop.

Roots Handmade Pizza - South Loop

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The Printer’s Row edition of this family favorite includes an outdoor area with a retractable roof. Find the same Quad Cities style pies that are also available in Lincoln Square, West Town, and Old Town. There’s a festive atmosphere inside, and kids are welcome.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bracket Room Sports Lounge & Eatery

Bracket Room [Official Photo]

An expansion of the mini chain from the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, customers know this spot is serious about the tournament because of the name. Locals are fans of the chicken wings here.

Bracket Room [Official Photo]

Kroll's South Loop

Kroll’s in South Loop.
Kroll’s/Facebook

If you can't find a North Side Badger bar, come to Kroll's in the South Loop where cheese curds and Bucky beer buckets have a home.

Kroll’s in South Loop.
Kroll’s/Facebook

Related Maps

Williams Inn Pizza & Sports Bar

Before closing its previous location, Williams Inn’s deep-dish pizza was legendary on the South Side. It has since resurfaced as a sports bar in the South Loop with the same pizza recipe and a welcoming atmosphere.

Cork & Kerry

Cork & Kerry/Facebook

Perhaps this popular Beverly Irish pub will bring some luck to your favorite team. This little joint will be showing key games. The Bridgeport location also serves food.

Cork & Kerry/Facebook

Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap

This Hyde Park dive may be popular with the University of Chicago student body, but since the division III U of C isn’t playing in the tourney, feel free to root for other teams. Catch every team vying for the title while trying many drink specials.

Related Maps