March Madness tips off this week, with five men’s and four women’s teams from California competing in the NCAA tournament this year. Seeded No. 2, UCLA is the highest-seeded team in the men’s tournament, while Stanford is a No. 1 seed on the women’s side.
Several California casinos will have watch parties and offer promotions for March Madness fans. After First Four games Tuesday and Wednesday to complete brackets, 64 teams will compete in the single-elimination tournaments. The men’s games run from March 16 through April 3. The women’s March Madness begins Friday, March 17, and continues through the championship game on Sunday, April 2.
California teams in heavy contention
While casinos are great places to watch March Madness games, California sports betting is still illegal. After two sports betting initiatives failed last November, the earliest betting could become legal in California is 2024.
On the men’s side, UCLA isn’t the only California March Madness team to have an impressive season. The California teams that made it into this year’s tournament all put together solid efforts to make it into the Big Dance.
- UCLA: No. 2 seed (29-5)
- San Diego State: No. 5 seed (27-6)
- St. Mary’s: No. 5 seed (26-7)
- USC: No. 10 seed (22-10)
- UC Santa Barbara: No. 14 seed (27-7)
In the women’s tournament, Stanford is a favorite to win it all.
- Stanford: No. 1 seed (28-5)
- UCLA: No. 4 seed (25-9)
- USC: No. 8 seed (21-9)
- Sacramento State: No. 13 seed (25-7)
Here is a look at the Round 1 schedule for all nine teams:
Thursday, March 16
- College of Charleston (12) vs. San Diego State, noon PST
- UNC Asheville (15) vs UCLA, 7:05 p.m.
Friday, March 17
- USC vs. Michigan State (7), 9:15 a.m.
- UC Santa Barbara vs. Baylor (3), 10:30 a.m.
- VCU (12) vs. Saint Mary’s, 11 a.m.
- Women – Southern University or Sacred Heart (16) vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.
- Women – USC vs. South Dakota State (28-5), 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 18
- Women – Sacramento State vs. UCLA, 8:30 p.m.
California casinos celebrate March Madness
Here is a look at some of the participating March Madness promotions at some California casinos:
Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage
Basketball Mayhem: $1 million Bracket Challenge. Register before March 16 and make your bracket picks between March 12-16. Pick the perfect college basketball tournament bracket for a chance to win up $1 million.
Head to 360 Sports bar to watch the games and participate in giveaways to win weekly prizes as well as a flat-screen TV at the end of the tournament. There will also be food and drink specials during March Madness.
Pechanga Casino, Temecula
Strike it Rich promotion runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays for March Madness. From noon to 10 p.m., swipe your players club card at a kiosk and win up to $5,000 in casino slot play.
Visit Round Bar and the Corner Bar to watch the games while enjoying cocktails and food.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
For the month of March on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, play the Toss to Win promotion. Earn 150 tier credits from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. and swipe your card at any kiosk to collect $20 in free play.
Morongo Casino – Cabazon, CA
Join in on the Million Dollar March Mania Challenge at Morongo Casino through April 3. Fill out a perfect bracket of 64 teams and win $1,000,000 guaranteed. In addition, there will be over $10,000 in additional prizes that includes electronics, Nike shoes, cash and much more.
Photo by Chase Stevens/AP Photo