The NCAA basketball tournaments are some of the most exciting, popular and unpredictable spectacles in sports. Each year, millions of people fill out brackets trying to accurately predict the tournament. We love March Madness here at Crownline, so we decided to put a little boating-spin on the tournament for our blog post this week. The men’s and women’s tournaments are both currently down to four teams. On the men’s side there is Michigan, Loyola-Chicago, Villanova and Kansas. On the women’s side there is Louisville, Mississippi State, Connecticut and Notre Dame. We’re going to rank each team in terms of which school offers the best boating locations.
- Kansas University: Lawrence, Kansas
Kansas is a number-one seed in the tournament, but they come in last in our ranking. Kansas isn’t a bad place to go boating, it’s just up against some tough competition. Perry and Clinton lakes are two great spots close to Lawrence. They offer nice marinas, golf courses, state parks for family fun, and have some big parties for college kids in the summer. Let’s not forget the Kansas River, a nice place to run your Crownline and do some fishing.
- Loyola University Chicago: Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a great boating city. It’s right on Lake Michigan and has a fantastic boating community. Sure, it’s tough to own a boat in a crowded city, but the Loyola campus is right on the shore and next to some nice Chicago beaches. Many people believe Lake Michigan is one the best boating locations in the world. Additionally, Loyola isn’t too far from the Chicago River, which provides a whole different boating and fishing experience. A little farther out are smaller lakes, such as Fox Lake, that provide a more relaxed experience for boaters who are willing to travel. It’s tough to place this third, but the other two locations on this list are just too good.
- Villanova University: Villanova, Pennsylvania
Villanova is a suburb of Philadelphia and has access to the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a pretty incredible selection by anyone’s standards. Most experts regard Villanova as the best team left in the tournament, and it’s hard to argue against the sheer majesty of all of the bodies of water around the school. All are held in high regard and offer a different kind of adventure. It’s a unique and fun selection that falls just short of our number-one choice.
- Michigan University: Ann Arbor, Michigan
The one thing Villanova isn’t close to is a Great Lake. Ann Arbor has loads of big lakes, small lakes and the Huron River. Just north of town are recreational areas with lakes and parks—perfect for families and college kids to enjoy. East of town is Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair, both less than an hour away. If you’re up for a longer journey, there’s Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan. Along the way are thousands of smaller ones that are worth exploring if you have the time. Michigan doesn’t have an ocean like Villanova, but it makes up for it with a huge variety of waterways, making it our favorite place to boat in the men’s Final Four.
- University of Louisville: Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is a lovely and lively place to live. Sadly, it doesn’t offer enough boating options to compete with the other schools and locations in this tournament. There’s the Ohio River, and Taylorsville Lake State Park is a good fishing spot and a nice place for water sports. Lake Cumberland is the best overall spot to take your boat, but it’s almost a three-hour drive away.
- Mississippi State University: Starkville, Mississippi
With some comfortable fishing lakes and a few spots to get in some good runs, Mississippi State barely beats Louisville at the bottom of our women’s Final Four. Columbus Lake is the big difference-maker here. Located on the Tombigbee River, this lake is good for water sports, fishing or just cruising. There are other lakes to the southeast that are worth checking out, and the Ross Barnett Reservoir, about a two-hour drive southwest, is a sweet spot for all things water sports.
- University of Notre Dame: South Bend, Indiana
Located just east of the southern tip of Lake Michigan, South Bend is close to a ton of lakes and rivers. It comes as no surprise that Lake Michigan is the main attraction, but other areas such as Lake Wawasee offer fun locations to relax. The St. Joseph River has some good spots for fishing and getting your Crownline up to speed, and Bass Lake and Lake Maxinkuckee are ideal for fishing and water sports.
- University of Connecticut: Storrs, Connecticut
UConn’s women’s basketball team is historically one of the best teams in all of sports. They’re the number-one team in the tournament and the best boating spot in our women’s Final Four. When it comes to boating and basketball, the Huskies have it all. They’re a short drive from the Atlantic Ocean, the Connecticut River and hundreds of cozy fishing lakes. Mansfield Hollow State Park is just one of the spots where you can boat and cast out a line while enjoying a sunny day. Of course, you can also head south and check out the lovely beaches and parks along the shores of the Atlantic. There’s plenty to enjoy in Husky territory.