So, your team didn’t make the Final Four. Whether you were rooting for your alma mater or the team you picked to win your work bracket, there’s a good chance they’re out by now, especially considering the somewhat surprising field of teams left standing.
With the possible exception of Michigan State, there are no blue-chip programs with multiple championships on their resume: Virginia’s last Final Four was in 1984, Texas Tech has never made it before, and Auburn has always been more of a football school despite Charles Barkley being an alum.
But that’s no excuse not to throw back a few beers and catch the weekend hoops action in the best sports-bar city in America. For a general, non-denominational viewing experience, check out the extensive beer list at Taproom No. 307 (307 Third Ave.) or the massive TV walls at Croxley’s (63 Grand St., Williamsburg).
And if you want to take it a step further, adopt another team for the night and live vicariously through real fans, here’s where you can go for each school — plus some fun facts to tout about the schools so you won’t be exposed as a fraud.
The bar: On a normal day, Joshua Tree is known as a brunch and nightlife spot that blasts ’80s and ’90s tunes, complete with music videos playing on their wall of TVs. But on game day, it’s a Michigan State Spartans sports bar. Inside, fans will see MSU flags, a wait staff decked out in Michigan State apparel and an inflatable Sparty mascot. MSU specials for Saturday night’s game against Texas Tech include select $4 beers, $5 shots and wine glasses, and $6 mixed drinks. And if you’re looking to watch the game but still want a taste of the bar’s signature retro flair, Joshua Tree’s DJ will flip on the music during commercials and halftime. 513 Third Ave.; 212-689-0058
Fun fact: Michigan State was called Michigan Agricultural College until 1925. That’s when the team name was switched from the Aggies to the Spartans.
The bar: Mustang Harry co-owner Niall Conroy calls his place the “official Texas Tech bar of New York City.” Befitting it’s rooting interest for Texas, the Midtown pub boasts a 99-foot-long bar, which it claims is “the longest in NYC.” In order to welcome Red Raiders fans, the bar has added Texas-brewed Shiner beer to its brew menu. This weekend, the bar will offer 16 oz. glasses of Shiner Bock for $6, as well as the “DP Shootout Cocktail” (vodka, amaretto and Coca-Cola, $12) that originated in Texas Tech’s hometown of Lubbock. With its location just a block away from Penn Station, TTU fans from outside the city should a have a convenient commute. 352 Seventh Ave.; 212-268-8390
Fun fact: The Texas Tech campus has been home to a statue of Will Rogers riding on his horse Soapsuds since 1950.
The bar: The massive, three-floor space of St. Pat’s Bar & Grill has been home to rabid Auburn Tigers fans for four years. And with the school’s debut in the Final Four with the game against Virginia, “It should be absolutely crazy this weekend,” says proprietor Ciaran Hughes. To make fans feel at home, the Midtown bar’s set up a wooden tree modeled after one at Toomer’s Corner, the Auburn campus spot where students chuck toilet paper onto branches after a victory. The game-night menu features “Aubie Nachos,” a burger named for head football coach Gus Malzahn and a pizza named after Auburn legend Bo Jackson. (Basketball coach Bruce Pearl doesn’t have a menu item yet, but that could change with a championship.) 22 W. 46th St.; 212-391-1111
Fun fact: Auburn’s famous alumni include hoops legend Charles Barkley, Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The bar: American Whiskey isn’t a Southern-themed bar, but it “has a lot of Southern seasoning to the stew,” manager Kevin Hooshangi says. It’s also the home to the biggest collection of Virginia basketball fans in the city. In addition to its plentiful whiskeys, the bar is offering a $5 “Orange Crush” shot made especially for UVA fans, consisting of Cointreau, orange juice and vodka. “We try to make the fans feel as close to being at the arena as possible,” Hooshangi says. “Come as if you’re going to the Final Four in Minneapolis.” 247 W. 30th St, Midtown, 212-967-1070
Fun fact: Dr. Charles T. Pepper, a 19th-century doctor (and Confederate surgeon), lived in Virginia and got his degree from UVA. Legend has it that he was the namesake for the soft drink, Dr. Pepper — which was invented by one of his employees.