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March Madness Las Vegas: Prepare Now

Now’s the time to plan your Vegas March Madness.

Sin City is the spot for college basketball – especially for college hoops nuts.

It has been a family tradition for me for decades. My father-in-law had a two-week ritual for 20 years of flying to Las Vegas on the Tuesday before the first game tipped off. And every game was watched!

It’s bigger, in our experience, than Super Bowl and New Year’s.

  • It lasts for nearly three weeks.

  • You can see all games at the same time.

  • The frenzy and emotion are like nothing else. It’s like being on the floor of the stock exchange during a stock market rally when every trader’s job is on the line.

So, plan now!

Here are our tips:

Check the schedule and see which week works for you. This year it goes from March 13 until April 2.

Book your flight now. Consider flying in on Tuesday and leaving the following Tuesday for more flight access.

Never been? Go the first weekend of March Madness when all the teams will play during the first Thursday and Friday.

Decide which Strip casino to plant yourself. From our experience, the best spot on the Strip is The Wynn with its sportsbook run by legend Johnny Avello.

Consider an off-the-Strip casino. Remember, the Strip will be jammed. If big crowds aren’t for you then try the resorts in Downtown Las Vegas, maybe Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, The M Resort south of the Strip, or Red Rock Resort in Summerlin. Also in Summerlin look at the JW Marriott. You can also hit one of their great restaurants Spiedini.

Consider a sports bar. There are plenty. We suggest Montana Meat Company. Just remember, sports bars don’t have betting. So you’ll have to place bets ahead of time before you place your butt at the sports bar.

How about a group trip? It might be fun, but it could be a pain too. You need to find some pals who love college hoops and realize you’re planting yourself there to see all the games. But they can do their Vegas thing while you’re in hoops mania.

Book your rooms now. You can go to Jetsetter Deals and book now. The earlier the better when it comes to cost. Closer to March as supply decreases and demand increases, price soars. If you think you might have to cancel, we suggest booking directly with the hotel; they will probably have a better cancellation policy.

Ask hotel reps about its March Madness plans. You could try the hotel sportsbook. Some hotels convert convention space into a VIP sportsbook so you can bet, get fed, drink, and watch the games on sofas. If the hotel doesn’t have a sportsbook, ask about nearby casinos.

Book restaurant reservations. Most games end around 9 pm so there is time to enjoy everything Las Vegas including great restaurants. We recommend: Rick Moonen's RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay, Mon Ami Gabi and Gordon Ramsay Steak House in the Paris Hotel Casino, Giada’s in the Cromwell.

Here's a playlist of restaurants we suggest.

Book golf tee times now. Let’s say you don’t want to sit and watch hoops all day. The golf courses tend to be less crowded during this time. But they’re not empty, since this is prime weather – usually in the 70s.

Once there, arrive at the sportsbook early. Games start at noon Vegas time. This way you can save the seats you want and place bets. One trick we learned: arrive at 9 a.m., place bets, then grab some breakfast to beat the betting crowd which grows as game time nears.

If you are there with a group consider pooling your money on bets. This creates a better atmosphere of camaraderie since you’re all pulling for each other’s team and pick.

You also a baseball fan? Consider going for the final weekend of March Madness and for Opening Day in Major League Baseball which is Thursday March 29. This will be the first time that all 30 teams will open the season on the same day.

How about your tips? Let us know here, on Facebook or Twitter.

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