The college basketball regular season doesn’t tip off until next week, but it’s never too early to talk about March Madness. Or even make plans for it.
Global event design firm Populous has partnered with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. to create FanDuel Bracket City Live, a free three-day that will take place across the Tennessee city’s Lower Downtown District and riverfront. The event runs March 16-18, which covers the two days of NCAA Tournament first-round games and the first day of second-round action.
The event will include two stages featuring musical talent – Nashville is the County Music Capital, after all, and that lineup will be released in the near future. But, of course, there will also be plenty of screens allowing attendees to catch all the early upsets.
“We know visitors love to come to Nashville for live music and sports, so putting them together is a winning combination for us,” said Deana Ivey, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “We are excited to introduce a brand-new festival on legendary Lower Broadway to a national audience and for Nashville to benefit from the marketing and TV exposure as we continue to become known as a world-class event city.”
NCAA Tournament a Big Deal
Nashville is used to hosting big events in its downtown district. It held the NFL Draft in the same area in 2019, and that three-day event drew more than 600,000.
The NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest annual sports events in the US. The first round includes non-stop action starting around noon ET and going past midnight. Throughout that first Thursday and Friday, there are times when there are three or four games going on simultaneously.
That’s why the opening weekend of March Madness has been a big weekend for Las Vegas, with thousands flocking to the casino sportsbooks to take in the games on the big screens and place a few wagers.
Vegas still attracts large crowds even as legalized sports betting has expanded greatly in the nearly four-and-a-half years since the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA. But as sports betting is now legal in 36 states – including Tennessee – plus the District of Columbia, it opens the door for cities in sports betting states to attract bettors during March Madness.
Bracket City Live is a three-day holiday to celebrate and create the unforgettable moments that come with the best time of the year for college basketball,” Bobby Sloan, associate principal at Populous and executive producer of Bracket City Live, said. “We saw an opportunity to bring fans together and experience those moments at one of the best entertainment destinations in the world.”
Bracket City Line organizers have set up a giveaway for someone and three of their buddies to get a travel voucher, lodging, and “exclusive experience packages.” For more information, go to the Bracket City Live website.
Gonzaga, Houston Co-Favorites
So, who is the team to beat in college basketball this season? According to FanDuel, there are two.
Gonzaga and Houston are co-favorites at +850, according to FanDuel’s oddsboard. North Carolina, which reached the championship game last season, is next at +1000.
Kentucky and Baylor are both available at +1200, while Duke is +1300 in its first season after coach Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement.
FanDuel has Kansas, the defending national champion, at +1500.
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