3 Great Places to Watch March Madness

Although Indiana's favorite teams aren't in the tourney this year, you can still count on March Madness to run high among the state's basketball fans.

Although Indiana’s favorite teams aren’t in the tourney this year, you can still count on March Madness to run high among the state’s basketball fans.

“Everywhere else, it’s just basketball…but this is Indiana!”

I’m not sure who was the first to say that, but if you’ve been in Indiana during the month of March, you understand. In the great Hoosier state, basketball is practically a religion and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, affectionately know as “March Madness,” is the greatest revival there is. (Although this year, no Indiana teams made the tournament — we need some saving for sure.)

And like church, community is a huge part of the experience. Sure, you can watch the 32 games from the comfort of your own couch, but the way to really experience March Madness in Indiana is to go out among the people.  If you’re looking for a great place to watch game after game, I’ve listed three of the MVPs below.

3 Great Places to Watch March Madness

1. Plump’s Last Shot — This is one of two nostalgic venues that made my list. Located in Broad Ripple, the restaurant pays homage to the shot heard ’round the state in 1954 when tiny Milan High School toppled Muncie Central High School on a last second heave by the now restaurant owner Bobby Plump. The “Milan Miracle” was one of the iconic events that solidified Indiana’s well-documented hoops hysteria. Bring a big appetite — or a friend — to tackle the beloved Hoosier Tenderloin sandwich. Plump’s Last Shot is located at 6416 Cornell Ave.

2. Wings Etc.  — This is one of our family’s favorite sports-watching venues. Plenty of TV, not too noisy. In 2011, we let our son stay home from school to join his dad and buddies for a day-long feast of NCAA tourney watching. Our alma mater, Butler University, had earned a spot in the tournament and we didn’t know how far they would go, so we let him stay home to see the Bulldogs’ first game. (I think the statue of limitations on reporting to the truant officer has run out.) The signature wings at Wings Etc. are definitely a good choice — I go for bone-in, my husband opts for boneless. But they make a mean hamburger too. If only they served Diet Coke instead of Diet Pepsi… Wings Etc. has Central Indiana locations in Avon, Indianapolis and Noblesville.

Moe & Johnny's sign at dusk3. Moe & Johnny’s — Way back when I was in college, this SoBro (South Broad Ripple) hangout was called The Bulldog. No name change can keep away the college basketball faithful. Now much more than a bar, Moe & Johnny’s offers a coffee shop, dining room and bar. This is my husband’s go-to restaurant when he meets up with old friends to relive the college days. If you’re there to watch the game — or several of them — there are plenty of angles to choose from. Moe & Johnny’s is located at 5380 N. College Avenue.