The 2013 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is coming to Chicago in March. To celebrate, Chicago Like a Local will be highlighting the best area places to watch each Big Ten team. Last night's close game against No. 1 Indiana has a lot of people talking about the Spartans as a national title contender. So grab your Magic Johnson throwback jersey and root on State at any one of Chicago's East Lansing substitutes.
Spartans fans who are looking for elbow room, tater tots, and a game environment considerably less noisy than the Breslin Center should check out Grand River. There are people who feed off of the energy and excitement of a jam-packed bar of like-minded fanatics. Then, there's the crowd that prefers a bar's bar where you rarely have to shout your order, wait in line for the rest room, or have your head blown off by a dubstep remix of Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me." Grand River caters to the latter.
Owned and operated by MSU alumni, this place shines like a freshly polished, forest green Spartan helmet before tip off. If you're looking for a couth, refined cocktail experience, stay out of Wrigleyville. But if you want to clank bottles while Keith Appling Jr. splits Wolverine double teams, meet us at Stretch.
For the price, this place offers some of the best bar food in town. The menu is on point like Scott Skiles in '86. The Half Acre Beer Company is nearby, so the Wild Goose always has the good stuff on tap. It's perhaps a bit less spirited then other MSU bars, but if you like your game experience with more wings and less face paint, pull up a chair at this North Center staple.
Brunch at Quay is terrific. So if the Spartans have an 11AM start time, there isn't a better place to watch Gary Harris rain three-pointers. With craft brews, game day specials and a serious commitment to high definition televisions, this is the perfect spot for March Madness in Chicago.
The lower level of O'Malley's can get pretty crowded when the Spartans are on. If you find yourself struggling for post position like a winded Draymond Green, make like Magic Johnson in '79 and go up top. The second floor is less frequented, but just as stirring on game day. The crowd is typically younger at O'Malley's but, when State's playing, Lincoln Park's trendy professionals seamlessly coexist with the area's youthful party scene. This bar is like "The Izzone" if it were infultrated by a group of affluent T.A.s. Go State!
If you don't like crowds or domestic beer, stay away from Mad River (and maybe keep some distance from us, too). But if you're looking for an environment not far removed from your college experience, here's your East Lansing in Chicago. This place is like The Riv during the day and turns into something between Rick's and Roadhouse at night. Seriously. Leave your Mateen Cleaves pearl white throwback at home, because this could be a messy evening.
Where to Watch is an ongoing series that highlights the best places to catch Big Ten basketball in Chicago. For details on the tournament, which comes to Chicago's United Center March 14-17, visit www.bigtenchicagohoops.com. Subscribe to our blog and follow @ChooseChicago on Twitter for ongoing updates.
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