Final Four Watch Parties, Team by Team

Brittanie Shey
Hotel Derek, all gaudied up.
Judging by traffic, alumni from the schools playing in this weekend's Final Four are already swarming town, and if you want to get some of the sweet team-pride action, we've compiled a list of the official and unofficial watch parties happening this weekend for those who don't want to splurge $250 in scalped Craigslist packages.

Be sure to check out HOOPla, our calendar of official Final Four-related events, including Bracket Town and the Big Dance concert series at Discovery Green. And hey, there are probably some big-name alumni in town, so if you snap a pic of anyone famous out and about this weekend, drop it in our Flickr pool.

And now, the parties:

Butler vs.VCU -- 6 p.m. Saturday This game means that one Cinderella school will be going to the final game, which is awesome since both schools are rather small. So small, in fact, that VCU isn't even throwing any parties in Houston.

But Butler, who advanced to the final game last year before losing by a mere three points to Duke University, will be out in Houston in full force. Executive director of alumni and development programs Rachel Burt said the school had hired two charter planes for alumni and five student buses to send fans to Houston from Indianapolis. She said last year's successes and the fact that the team was pre-ranked before the 2010 season have escalated interest in the program.

"We have some great student athletes on our team, and we're on a run right now," she said. "Most of our alumni who are going (to Houston) are going to the game."

Still, the NCAA has organized three parties for fans of the team, one at Front Porch Pub, 217 W. Gray, and one at 360 Sports Lounge, 4601 Washington Ave. The big party, though, will be at Maggiano's Little Italy, 2019 Post Oak Blvd., where alumni will be handing out goodies for fans of the team.

UK vs. UConn -- 8:45 p.m. Saturday The University of Connecticut's big party will be in the Heights, at Cadillac Bar, 1802 Shepherd, so good luck making reservations there this weekend. The event will feature food specials, giveaways and the game on 12 50-inch and 23-inch plasma TVs.

Check out the UConn alum Twitter page for more info from during the weekend.

The alumni from University of Kentucky, the team with probably the most rabid fans, are hosting a couple of events in town, including an "outing" to the Houston Rockets game against Atlanta at 6 p.m. Sunday. Rockets Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson both played for UK.

UK has three official watch parties on Saturday: Christian's Tailgate, 2000 Bagby St., Chili's Galleria, 5015 Westheimer, and Sawyer Park, 2412 Washington Ave.

UK's alumni are also hosting a tailgate party at Reliant Park's Blue lot (but of course) from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, according to Robin Boughey, clubs and programs assistant.

"It'll be a UK-friendly atmosphere with Big Blue decorations," she said. "The tailgate event is a chance to get all the fans together and get them riled up before the game. It's definitely gonna be a Big Blue Nation in Houston."

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Shey is an experienced blogger, social media expert and traveler. She studied journalism at Oklahoma State University before working as a full-time reporter for Houston Community Newspapers in 2005. She lived in South Korea for three years, where she worked as a freelancer.
Contact: Brittanie Shey