It’s a thrilling time for San Diego State hoops fans. The men’s basketball squad navigated a wild road in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history.
Houston will host the March Madness spectacle of Final Four weekend. For those San Diegans and SoCal college basketball fans planning to make the trip to support the Aztecs in person, here’s a guide to help you enjoy it.
Final Four 2023 Preview: Aztecs vs. Owls
NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament National Semifinals
The Aztecs will tip off at 6:09 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 1, at NRG Stadium in Houston against Florida Atlantic University. The winner advances to the National Title Game against the winner of the University Miami/University of Connecticut matchup. The championship gets underway on Monday, April 3.
The No. 5 seed Aztecs have served notice to the Division I college basketball world: this program should be taken seriously nationally.
SDSU has won 20+ games in six straight seasons and has won as many as 30 games in a season twice since 2020. In this tournament, their wins over “big” college programs like Alabama show that the Aztecs must be taken seriously in college hoop circles.
In a sense, the Aztecs had things fall their way in March Madness this year. They faced off against a No. 12 and then a No. 13 seed in the first two rounds. And they face a No. 9 seed in FAU in the Final Four. But, in today’s game, with the portal transfer and NIL leveling the state of competition, even non-power conference programs like FAU can field incredibly skilled teams.
For SDSU to get to and win the national championship on Monday, they will need six wins in this tournament. Ironically, the program only had six March Madness wins in program history before this year.
There’s reason to believe they can do it. Brian Dutcher’s team plays tough defense. The Aztecs were ranked 25th in fewest points allowed and 21st in opponent field goal percentage.
Parking and Transportation in Houston for Final Four
The site of the Final Four games on Saturday and the title game on Monday is NRG Stadium, one of the most impressive sporting venues in the world. The stadium is located near downtown Houston, off Interstate 610.
Need to get to NRG and the Final Four or one of the many events during the weekend? You’re in luck. From Friday, Mar. 31, through Monday, April 3, the METRORail offers free transportation. Use the RED, GREEN, or PURPLE rail lines to get to the NRG Stadium complex without dipping into your wallet.
You’ll also find ample cab, shuttle, or paid (Uber, Lyft) options to get around Houston, which is one of the more sprawling cities in the U.S.
NRG Stadium is only one of many venues on a 350-acre complex, along with NRG Center, NRG Arena, and the NRG Astrodome. The complex is also home to the largest rodeo in the world, and NRG Stadium is where the Houston Texans play their home games.
Use this parking map to assist you this weekend:
Things To Do During Final Four Weekend in Houston
March Madness Music Festival Featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Nas X
More than a dozen musical acts, including big names, are headlining March Madness Music Festival. The event runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; tickets are needed for each specific date. The tickets are free, but you must visit the NCAA March Madness Music Festival web page to register for them. You must be over 16 to register for the free tickets and possess a state-issued ID to enter.
This event is presented jointly by NCAA Corporate Champions AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Capital One. It will be held at beautiful Discovery Green, the 12-acre public park in downtown Houston.
Pick a day and listen to your favorite music and artists, or show up for all three days, and have an experience your ears will never forget:
AT&T Block Party: Friday, March 31, 4:30 – 10 p.m. CT (headlined by Megan Thee Stallion)
MOVE by Coca-Cola: Saturday, April 1, 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. CT (featuring Lil Nas X)
Capital One JamFest: Sunday, April 2, 2:30 – 10 p.m. CT (a country music theme led by Tim McGraw and Keith Urban)
Final Four Fan Fest
The NCAA and partners put on a popular Fan Fest for college hoops nuts every year. The GRB Convention Center is situated across the street from NRG Stadium. You can take Houston’s METRORail to the venue for free all weekend.
Take part in games, brush elbows with celebrities, and buy college basketball gear at the NCAA Final Four Fan Fest. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Kids 12 and younger do not need a ticket.
If you have Final Four tickets OR tickets for any Rockets game, you can attend Final Four Fan Fest at no charge.
Tips for Visiting Houston
Be sure to dress appropriately. Fluctuating temperatures and lots of humidity are staples of Texas’ climate. Don’t overheat, stay hydrated, and wear comfortable shoes that support your feet.
Also, make sure to secure your personal belongings in a bag or wallet secured to your person. You don’t want to lose any important stuff that would ruin what should be a fantastic Final Four college hoops weekend.
Best Houston Sports Bars for San Diego State Basketball Fans
No tickets? Maybe you’re going to Houston to soak up the Final Four atmosphere. That’s great. Here are three options for watching the games.
Texas nightlife is known for craft beer and great local flavor. You’ll find both at Cottonwood, which boasts perhaps the biggest patio of any sports bar in the state.
Situated in the Garden Oaks and Oak Forest neighborhoods of Houston, Cottonwood is a casual indoor/outdoor spot with more than 55 beers on tap, a tasty bar food menu, and oodles of Texas-sized TV screens to watch every loose ball, three-pointer, and slam dunk of the Final Four.
Location: 3422 North Shepherd Street
I’ll admit it. I don’t usually like bars with cutesy names, but Pour Behavior is forgiven because this place has it all for college basketball fans.
From the many beers on tap, delicious pub fare, and waitstaff decked out in referee uniforms, you’ll feel like you are courtside at Pour Behavior.
They’ll have March Madness Watch Party specials and promotions, and you can call ahead and reserve a table for your SDSU-screaming fans.
Location: 2211 Travis Street
Pitch 25 Beer Park
Woah! What the heck is a beer park? You’ll want to find out, which is why Pitch 25 is one of the best spots to grab a seat, plate of nachos, your favorite beverage, and watch hours of basketball. We mean SDSU basketball, of course!
There are more than 100 draft beers and other spirits options are also on the menu at this bustling, fun sports bar, located near Minute Maid Park and House of Blues. This is the place to go when you also want to experience many of the attractions of downtown Houston.
Don’t take our word. Just read this review from a customer on Yelp: “The space is HUGE – and unlike most beer gardens – the outdoor space isn’t the only area with ample seating.”
Location: 2120 Walker Street