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NCAA Tournament Destinations: Ranked

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On Selection Sunday the Horned Frogs will learn where they’ll be playing to open the NCAA Tournament. Which location is best?

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NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 25 Div I Women’s Championship - Quarterfinals - UCLA v Mississippi State Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU has locked up a bid to the NCAA Tournament and will hear its name called on Selection Sunday for the 2nd time in the Jamie Dixon era. Frog fans now turn attention to the bracket reveal where TCU will find where TCU will be seeded, its first-round opponent and opening round locations. Including the First Four play-in games, there are nine possible locations that the Selection Committee could send the Frogs. Let’s compare the destinations as we try to determine which would be the best place to watch the Frogs begin their March Madness journey.

As a preface, I have nothing against any of these cities. They all seem like great places ,and while putting together this list (especially when researching the food), I have a new interest in visiting each of these places. I spent far too long shuffling the order of these locations – there is something great about each. That said, some places would make for a better destination than others to follow the Frogs. Let me know in the comments where you most want the Frogs to end up for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

NOTE: All dollar figures are from prior to Selection Sunday, once the teams are known prices are likely to fluctuate greatly. Airfare is per Google, ticket price is per StubHub.


9. Dayton, OH

If TCU ends up in Dayton at this point, something went very wrong during selection committee deliberations. There is only one bracket tracked by BracketMatrix listing the Frogs even as low as an 11 seed, so it would be a stunner to hear on Sunday that the Frogs are in one of the play-in slots. As a flight enthusiast I need to make my way to Dayton someday to check out the Wright Brothers museum and the Air Force museum…but that can wait until a year TCU barely sneaks into the First Four.


8. Buffalo, NY

  • Venue: KeyBank Center
  • Game Dates: Mar. 17 & 19
  • Driving Distance from TCU: 1,403 miles
  • Roundtrip Airfare from DFW: $506
  • Min. Full-Session Ticket: $300
  • Forecasted High Temp: 60°
  • Signature Dish: Anchor Bar - Wings
  • Sight to See: Niagara Falls
  • Add-on Event: 3/19 – Patton Oswalt
  • Potential 2nd Round Opponent: UConn, Providence

There must be a heat wave rolling through the country next week, because everywhere is getting snow this week and somehow reaches a high temp in the 50-60s next week. Even if the weather cooperates, Buffalo is far away and difficult/expensive to get to, with only one non-stop flight per day from DFW. It would be great to visit the place where TCU legend Jerry Hughes has made his living for the past nine seasons, to eat all the wings from the originator and all the other wing joints in town, and to take a day trip to Niagara Falls. We could even jump through some flaming tables like the Bills Mafia. Perhaps in the summertime.


7. Pittsburgh, PA

Pitt has the advantage of being easy to get to despite its distance from Fort Worth, as there are plenty of flights, including several daily nonstop flights from DFW. I am personally a sucker for the Primanti Bros style sandwich, but I wouldn’t say that alone is a reason to move the Steel City up this list, especially given the food cities available. Outside of these little advantages, there is not much to set Pittsburgh apart for a weekend getaway and the potential for wintery weather knocks it down as a destination. Also, given the 20,000-seat capacity of PPG Paints I could see it being a cavernous lifeless venue during all non-Villanova games.


6. Portland, OR

Although located in a major city with a basketball-specific venue and sufficient flight options, Portland tumbles down the list for a few reasons. The Pacific Northwest is just so remote from most of the country – it is shorter to drive to Cancun from Fort Worth. Also the weather is forecasted to be pretty miserable, with temperatures in the 30s and rain throughout the weekend. I also don’t have a ton of interest in playing #1 overall seed juggernaut Gonzaga if TCU is able to get out of a first round 8/9 match up. In all, Portland seems like a perfectly enjoyable city, but not exactly what you are looking for in a college sporting event destination for Spring Break.


5. Greenville, SC

I was surprised at the relative proximity of Greenville to Fort Worth. That + the Southern food scene + beautiful weather and outdoorsy vibe could have placed Greenville higher in the rankings. However, if flying, there are only two daily non-stop flights from DFW; also, clearly Duke and North Carolina fans have gobbled up the tickets with the hope of their teams playing here as these are the most expensive tickets of all the destinations. The prospect of playing one of those Tobacco Road giants in the Carolinas is daunting. This venue will be jumping with basketball-crazed Carolinians for a great basketball atmosphere if you can get there and in the building.


4. Milwaukee, WI

Unique delicious food: check. Venue built for basketball, located in the city center: check. Amenities of a major city: check. Perfect March weather: welllllll. Milwaukee gets close to checking all the boxes of an ideal NCAA Tournament site. Get your beer and cheese and brats and butter burgers and custard in a destination where there is plenty to do and see outside of the games. Even with a warm front moving in, the forecasted low temperatures are in the 30s, so this will be a great place to enjoy the tournament, just pack a coat.


3. Indianapolis, IN

After hosting the entirety of the 2021 Tournament, I think we’ve all had enough of Indy. But I get it, the city is walkable and everything is nearby to the venue. Indy is also the non-local destination in closest driving distance to TCU. It’s fine.

On a personal note, one of my all-time great childhood memories is traveling to the old RCA Dome with my grandparents and dad in 2000 for a Titans playoff game against Peyton Manning and the hated Colts. The Titans won, and I’ll never forget the overwhelming boom of Titans fans’ chants of “EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!” echoing through the concourse after the game, celebrating the performance of Eddie George. If TCU gets slotted to Indy, I look forward to Frog fans filling the halls of Gainbridge Fieldhouse with the same chant, lauding the dominance of Eddie Lampkin.


2. Fort Worth, TX

I realize that with TCU likely placed in the 7-9 seed range there is no chance the Frogs will be headed down University Drive for the NCAA Tournament. Even aside from the proximity to campus, Fort Worth is objectively a great place to host March Madness games: incredible food options for every taste, major airport with direct flights to almost everywhere in the country, intimate venue for maximum fan craziness, typically great springtime weather. The only downside would be that Dickies is not directly surrounded by an abundance of bars and restaurants to enjoy before, after, and between sessions; however 7th Street is a short walk to accommodate that need. Congrats to all the fanbases that get to make the trip to Fort Worth, you’ll enjoy your time in our town.


1. San Diego, CA

  • Venue: Viejas Arena
  • Game Dates: Mar. 18 & 20
  • Driving Distance from TCU: 1,321 miles
  • Roundtrip Airfare from DFW: $375
  • Min. Full-Session Ticket: $375
  • Forecasted High Temp: 74°
  • Signature Dish: Blue Water – Fish Tacos
  • Sight to See: Beaches
  • Add-on Event: 3/19 – Steve Aoki
  • Potential 2nd Round Opponent: Arizona, UCLA

The beaches, the zoo, the perfect weather: San Diego is hard to beat as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Although some may perceive it to be a negative that the venue is located on the campus of San Diego State, a fair distance from the beach and Gaslamp District, but the atmosphere should be electric in and around the stadium. Visitors can enjoy the college gameday experience during the games while also getting a world-class true destination for their Spring Break.


So which destination is best? The correct answer: wherever the Frogs are playing.

Find out where the Frogs will be dancing during the Selection Sunday broadcast March 13 at 5:00 PM on CBS. Once the bracket is revealed, get your travel booked to follow TCU on its Tournament journey.