Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 2 a.m.
With only three games left in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, March Madness is beginning to wind down.
And although they may be hundreds of miles away from their alma maters, many of those schools’ alumni have banded together in Las Vegas to form local watch parties to cheer on their team.
Here’s a look at the Final Four schools and their local gathering spots:
Ohio State University
Several Buckeye-friendly bars are scattered throughout Las Vegas, but the main gathering point for fans this weekend will be at PT’s Gold, 6570 S. Buffalo Drive, which has been dubbed the “Vegas Horseshoe” in deference to Ohio State’s legendary football stadium.
“PT’s is great. They’ve been doing happy hour specials no matter what time our games are. The staff even wears Ohio State shirts," said Christopher Burke, a local attorney who is president of OSU’s Las Vegas alumni chapter.
The Buckeyes have had a local presence for more than 20 years, Burke said, and their last watch party drew about 50 fans.
Burke said the group was inviting fans of other Big 10 teams to join them this weekend and “put down their anti-Buckeye sentiment for a moment to root for the Big 10.”
University of Kansas
There’s no place like home, but for local Jayhawks fans, the Buffalo Wild Wings at 10271 S. Eastern Ave. in Henderson comes close.
On game days, Jayhawks fans take over the restaurant, which was chosen because it carries every Kansas University game throughout the year, KU alumni chapter president Dee Clifford said.
“It gets pretty raucous in March. We do the Rock Chalk chant and wave the wheat,” said Clifford, who estimated the watch party for last Sunday’s regional final drew about 80 attendees.
“It’s about getting together with other people who love KU. It’s a community thing,” she said. “Nobody’s a stranger here.”
University of Kentucky
The official bar for Kentucky Wildcats fans in Las Vegas has moved several times, but it’s found a new home at Scooter’s Pub, 6200 S. Rainbow Blvd.
The bar offers a private seating area for the group, plus food and beer specials during games, said Heather Bressler, a local interior designer and president of the local Kentucky alumni chapter.
“If you’re not a (Kentucky) fan, it’s difficult to understand,” she said. “There’s this passion that surrounds the game.”
The watch parties typically draw between 20 and 40 people, Bressler said.
“The type of people who come from Kentucky are just fun to be around,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’re home, even though you’re 2,000 miles away.”
University of Louisville
With only 247 registered alumni in Nevada, the University of Louisville’s official presence in Las Vegas is small, and there is no local alumni chapter, said Tom Dennis, spokesman for the university’s alumni association.
Local fans looking to join their Cardinal brethren in cheering on their team this weekend could travel to Los Angeles or Phoenix, which have active chapters, Dennis said.
Or the fans could join their bitter rivals from the University of Kentucky at Scooter’s Pub to watch the two teams square off this weekend.
“We do have some Louisville people join us. Anybody’s welcome, except Duke fans,” Bressler, the president of the Kentucky alumni chapter, said with a laugh. “I’m kidding.”