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NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Northwestern
Will Illinois and Ayo Dosunmu make a run? Northwestern won’t.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Where to Watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament

The best bets where to watch games if they are happening

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Will Illinois and Ayo Dosunmu make a run? Northwestern won’t.
| David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Forget the limbo that exists between the end of winter and the start of spring and succumb to March Madness. Conference tournaments have already started, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament won't begin until Tuesday, March 17. The first full weekend of games is Thursday, March 19. Meanwhile, the women’s tournament starts Friday, March 13.

Provided the NCAA tournament goes on, even without fans attending (the Big Ten on Thursday cancelled its tournament amid COVID-19 concerns), here’s a list of bars to watch the games.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Surge Coffee Bar & Billiard

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3241 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

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

2. Brickhouse Tavern

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3647 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613

Years from know, historians will point to the Brickhouse as the one of the catalysts that transformed the area around Wrigley Field. The interiors pay homage to the Cubs with plenty of trinkets and awards. While the beer selection isn't vast, the food is tasty and dependable.

Brickhouse Tavern is in front of Wrigley Field.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

3. The Pony

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1638 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 828-5055
Visit Website

Kentucky fans know about the Pony, a festive spot to root for the Wildcats. The decent bar menu and fan-centric drink specials make this a good choice for sports fans.

The Pony

4. Park & Field

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3509 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(765) 426-6657
Visit Website

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 is a decent spot to hang out near the fire pits. 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

5. Lottie's Pub

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1925 W Cortland St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-0738
Visit Website

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, which is responsible for Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern.

Lottie's Pub

6. Joe's Bar on Weed Street

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940 W Weed St
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 337-3486
Visit Website

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.

7. The Fifty/50

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2047 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-5050
Visit Website

The Fifty/50, with its popular chicken wings and 29 TVs, is one of the OGs along Division Street. They’ll play games with sound and often offer creative drink specials for fans.

Fifty/50 is a Wicker Park fixture.
Fifty/50/Facebook

8. Bounce Sporting Club

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324 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

Bounce Sporting Club wants to mix bottle service with sports, and it’s brought a formula that's been successful from New York to River North. It don't take itself too seriously with Flaming Hot Cheetos-dusted chicken wings and other eccentric items.

Bounce Sporting Club has an underrated menu.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

9. Point and Feather

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113 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 595-0113
Visit Website

The ownership behind John Barleycorn has evolved with a quirky spot in River North that lets customers throw darts while eating whimsical pub food. Point and Feather is not what customers expect in the buttoned-up River North area.

Point & Feather Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

10. Theory

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9 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 644-0004
Visit Website

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

Theory is in River North.
Theory [Official Photo]

11. Marshall's Landing

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222 Merchandise Mart Plz
Chicago, IL 60654
(713) 301-6078
Visit Website

DMK has created one of Chicago's most unique restaurant and bars inside the Merchandise Mart. This place is part coffee shop, lounge, and restaurant, and the perfect place to bring a laptop and pretend to get work done while watching a buzzer beater.

Barry Brecheisen

12. AceBounce

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230 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60601
(773) 219-0900
Visit Website

Table tennis and brackets make for a fun time in the Loop at AceBounce. The downtown location has plenty of screens to watch the games and food with a global influence.

Marc Much

13. Franklin Tap

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325 S Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 212-3262
Visit Website

This gastropub offers an extensive beer list for thirsty fans that love college, but don't want to eat or drink like they're still a student. No cheap ramen or red plastic cups here.

Marc Much/Eater Chicago

14. 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]

15. Kroll's South Loop

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1736 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 235-1400
Visit Website

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

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

16. Cork & Kerry

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3258 S Princeton Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 842-0769
Visit Website

Hopefully one’s favorite team is feeling the luck of the Irish at this popular Beverly Irish pub. Irish-inspired bar food with popular Irish beers will have patrons feeling the luck as well as this little joint will be airing the most popular games.

Cork & Kerry/Facebook

17. Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery

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5215 S Harper Ct
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 643-8008
Visit Website

Jolly Pumpkin, a popular Michigan brewery, has left its mark on Hyde Park with its sours and pizzas. It's only been open for a few months but it feels very welcoming.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

18. Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap

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1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 643-5516

This Hyde Park dive may be popular with the University of Chicago student body — but there is no love lost for any other colleges. Catch every team vying for the title while trying many drink specials.

1. Surge Coffee Bar & Billiard

3241 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
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.

3241 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

2. Brickhouse Tavern

3647 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
Brickhouse Tavern is in front of Wrigley Field.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Years from know, historians will point to the Brickhouse as the one of the catalysts that transformed the area around Wrigley Field. The interiors pay homage to the Cubs with plenty of trinkets and awards. While the beer selection isn't vast, the food is tasty and dependable.

3647 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613

3. The Pony

1638 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
The Pony

Kentucky fans know about the Pony, a festive spot to root for the Wildcats. The decent bar menu and fan-centric drink specials make this a good choice for sports fans.

1638 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

4. Park & Field

3509 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
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 is a decent spot to hang out near the fire pits. Just stream the game on a phone.

3509 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

5. Lottie's Pub

1925 W Cortland St, Chicago, IL 60622
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, which is responsible for Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern.

1925 W Cortland St
Chicago, IL 60622

6. Joe's Bar on Weed Street

940 W Weed St, Chicago, IL 60622

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.

940 W Weed St
Chicago, IL 60622

7. The Fifty/50

2047 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Fifty/50 is a Wicker Park fixture.
Fifty/50/Facebook

The Fifty/50, with its popular chicken wings and 29 TVs, is one of the OGs along Division Street. They’ll play games with sound and often offer creative drink specials for fans.

2047 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

8. Bounce Sporting Club

324 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Bounce Sporting Club has an underrated menu.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bounce Sporting Club wants to mix bottle service with sports, and it’s brought a formula that's been successful from New York to River North. It don't take itself too seriously with Flaming Hot Cheetos-dusted chicken wings and other eccentric items.

324 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

9. Point and Feather

113 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Point & Feather Chicago.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The ownership behind John Barleycorn has evolved with a quirky spot in River North that lets customers throw darts while eating whimsical pub food. Point and Feather is not what customers expect in the buttoned-up River North area.

113 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Theory

9 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Theory is in River North.
Theory [Official Photo]

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

9 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654

11. Marshall's Landing

222 Merchandise Mart Plz, Chicago, IL 60654
Barry Brecheisen

DMK has created one of Chicago's most unique restaurant and bars inside the Merchandise Mart. This place is part coffee shop, lounge, and restaurant, and the perfect place to bring a laptop and pretend to get work done while watching a buzzer beater.

222 Merchandise Mart Plz
Chicago, IL 60654

12. AceBounce

230 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60601
Marc Much

Table tennis and brackets make for a fun time in the Loop at AceBounce. The downtown location has plenty of screens to watch the games and food with a global influence.

230 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60601

13. Franklin Tap

325 S Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60606
Marc Much/Eater Chicago

This gastropub offers an extensive beer list for thirsty fans that love college, but don't want to eat or drink like they're still a student. No cheap ramen or red plastic cups here.

325 S Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60606

14. Bracket Room Sports Lounge & Eatery

Chicago, IL 60607
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.

15. Kroll's South Loop

1736 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
Kroll’s in South Loop.
Kroll’s/Facebook

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

1736 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

Related Maps

16. Cork & Kerry

3258 S Princeton Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
Cork & Kerry/Facebook

Hopefully one’s favorite team is feeling the luck of the Irish at this popular Beverly Irish pub. Irish-inspired bar food with popular Irish beers will have patrons feeling the luck as well as this little joint will be airing the most popular games.

3258 S Princeton Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

17. Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery

5215 S Harper Ct, Chicago, IL 60615
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Jolly Pumpkin, a popular Michigan brewery, has left its mark on Hyde Park with its sours and pizzas. It's only been open for a few months but it feels very welcoming.

5215 S Harper Ct
Chicago, IL 60615

18. Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap

1172 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615

This Hyde Park dive may be popular with the University of Chicago student body — but there is no love lost for any other colleges. Catch every team vying for the title while trying many drink specials.

1172 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615

Related Maps