CHICAGO — Virginia, Iowa State, Syracuse and Gonzaga fans will be flooding Chicago this week after their teams qualified for Friday's NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Sweet 16 games at the United Center.
Top-seeded Virginia faces 4 seed Iowa State on Friday at 6:10 p.m., followed by 10 seed Syracuse meeting 11 seed Gonzaga. The winners advance to Sunday's regional final on the Near West Side, with a trip to the Final Four in Houston on the line.
Alumni organizations from all four universities will be hosting events to cheer on their respective hoops teams.
Sr. Editor Justin Breen doesn't even bother with brackets because of years like this one.
About 2,600 Virginia alumni live in Chicago and its surroundings, said UVa Club of Chicago president Kristina Hamilton.
The club will host a pregame social from 3:30-6 p.m. at The Ogden, 1659 W. Ogden Ave. Admission is $15, which includes appetizers, non-alcoholic beverages and giveaways.
Hamilton said the organization also is hosting a watch party at Lincoln Station, 2432 N. Lincoln Ave.
"We are so proud of all that [coach] Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers have accomplished this season and are thrilled to be able to cheer them on in-person in Chicago," Hamilton said.
Iowa State (23-10)
The Chicago area is home to 10,388 Iowa State alumni, according to Iowa State University Alumni Association Club of Chicago president Ashley Albrecht.
The club's activities will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday with a Sweet Sixteen Kickoff Party at Murphy's Bleachers, 3655 N. Sheffield Ave. On Friday, Cyclones fans can gather at Navy Pier's Aon Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Ave. from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. for a Lunch and Spirit Rally.
The club will host an official game-watch party at Murphy's Bleachers at 6:10 p.m. Friday. The event is free for alumni and friends, Albrecht said. Other activities before and during the game will be at Park Tavern, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd., and West End, 1326 W. Madison St.
"We have had a lot of fun watching the season unfold for our Cyclones, and we couldn't be more proud of what they have accomplished," Albrecht said.
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Friday, the organization is hosting a free pre-game party, also at The Ogden. The club also is organizing a free game-watch party at Dinosaur BBQ, 923 W. Weed St., which will include halftime prizes and drink specials (the original Dinosaur BBQ is in downtown Syracuse, N.Y.) . The event is free and seating is first come, first served. Syracuse's women's team also is in the Sweet 16.
"All of us are thrilled to have an extended basketball season for both our men's and women's teams this year," Segbers said.
The Chicago area is home to an estimated 300 Gonzaga alums, according to Kelly Price, the university's assistant director of alumni chapters.
Price said the Gonzaga University: Chicago Chapter group will be hosting a pregame social at the Chicago Athletic Association's Stagg Court, 12 S. Michigan Ave. from 5-7 p.m. Tickets, $20, include appetizers and a drink ticket.
The club also will be organizing a pregame tent party in the United Center's Parking Lot K, Price said.
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