What’s happening: A guide to Monday’s NCAA tournament events
And then there were two! Here’s a roundup of the news and events for locals and visitors alike ahead of the NCAA title game Monday evening.
Things to do today
- Final Four Fan Fest continues: Doors open at 11 a.m. at Minneapolis Convention Center, with an assortment of family-friendly activities scheduled, including a chicken wing sampling and other activities courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings, autograph sessions and guest appearances. Free admission for kids 12 and under.
- Tailgating and live music on Nicollet Mall! OK, so maybe the organizers’ spelling wasn’t the best, but the Final Four Tip-Off Tailgate Party features food, games, music and a giant Ferris wheel. Monday’s festivities kick off at 4 p.m. on Nicollet Mall between S. 8th and 12th streets and continue until 10 p.m. Los Angeles soul-pop dance band Fitz & the Tantrums, a favorite at the annual Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, performs at 6 p.m. Free.
- Watch the big game, of course: Tune in at pretty much any bar in downtown Minneapolis, including Erik the Red, Cowboy Jack’s, Brit’s Pub, Bus Stop Burgers, Finnegans Brew Co., Kieran’s Irish Pub, the Pourhouse, Brothers Bar & Grill, the Depot Tavern, the Loon Cafe, 8th Street Grill, Lyon’s Pub, Rock Bottom Brewery, Stadium Bar & Grill, Crooked Pint Ale House, Sneaky Pete’s, the Local and City Works.
- What if you just want to hang with fans of your team? The UVA Club of the Twin Cities is hosting a game watch party Monday evening at Bunnie's Bar and Grill in northeast Minneapolis. The Texas Tech Alumni Association is encouraging fans to meet up at Brother's Bar & Grill in downtown Minneapolis for Monday's big game.
- Anything else? St. Paul’s BlackStack Brewing is hosting a Final 4 Taproom takeover for Monday’s game. James Ballentine Uptown VFW is offering food and drink specials at its game-day event. Punch Bowl Social and Basement Bar are also hosting watch parties in Minneapolis. Some of these events require a cover charge so read the fine print! Eat Street’s Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has specials all day. The Mall of America’s 3-on-3 tournament for college basketball players continues with a $150,000 grand prize and a special Basketball Championship Superstore.
Today’s top stories
- Moments of truth propeled Virginia, Texas Tech into Final Four finale: The conversation will focus on defense, as it should, because the two teams that made it to the final Monday of the college basketball season offer no ambiguity about their identity. Virginia and Texas Tech stand on common ground in that regard. They play tough, relentless, suffocating defense. Both earned a spot in the national championship game by treating opposing offenses like a dog treats a chew toy. Here’s what you need to know about the schools.
- NCAA fans either jubilant or looking for a way out of Minneapolis: The streets of Minneapolis were paved with joy and heartbreak on Sunday. And some raindrops too. Fans of Michigan State and Auburn were looking for ways to get out of town, while Virginia and Texas Tech fans celebrated.
- Izzo defends Big 10 after another Final Four chance slips away: It’s now 19 years and counting since a Big Ten team won an NCAA men’s basketball title. Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team last won one in 2000. Izzo’s Spartans lost 61-51 to Texas Tech on Saturday night. Afterward, a man who has reached the Final Four eight times was asked about the state of the conference now that one more year without a championship has gone by.
- These roads are closed: While there are some road closures surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium and Nicollet Mall, the footprint for the Final Four is much smaller than it was for last year’s Super Bowl. Bookmark this map of downtown Minneapolis to help you get around.
- Public transit is a great option: Metro Transit has created a handy guide to help locals and out-of-town college basketball fans navigate the light rail and bus systems. Rideshare app Lyft is teaming up with Captain Morgan to offer $20 ride credits to users 21 and older this weekend, though supplies are limited.
- What else is there to do? Never fear! If you need a break from basketball, check out our Essential Twin Cities Guide for tons of food, shopping and activity recommendations.