13 March Madness Party Ideas—Plus Games to Keep Your Guests Entertained

Kick off March Madness with the second most important event of the year: your party!

March Madness starts “Selection Sunday,” when 64 NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball teams are selected to go to the “Big Dance”—the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament.

The first weekend of tournament play is the safest time to have a party to celebrate your favorite college basketball team. It’s the first round, so all the teams that make it to the tournament will play that first week. These slam-dunk March Madness recipes are perfect for the party.

Here are some ideas to make your March Madness party a success:

An overhead view of a party for a college basketball tournament with an empty 16 team bracket. There is a bowl of small pretzels, chips and salsa along with a basketball sitting on what looks like a maple wood basketball court. This bracket is for a 16 team single elimination tournament, winner take all, which typically happens in March every year in the US between college basketball teams and many people gamble on the series.cmannphoto /iStock / Getty Images Plus

Send Out Game Brackets as Your Party Invitations

Have the guests fill out the brackets before they arrive at the party, so you will be able to start the fun off with a basketball pool. Each guest should guess the winner of the game and score for each team. Even if your guests don’t get the prize, these March Madness snacks will make them feel like winners.

Game Time

Set times for your party unless you want the event to become an all-day affair. The games continue at various times throughout the week, so you could have people lingering around your house for days. Just in case the party won’t stop, know these etiquette tips for overnight guests.


Orange and black are neutral basketball colors to use when decorating for your March Madness party. If your guests will all be cheering for the same team, by all means, decorate accordingly. Feel free to take it outside with these patio party ideas.

Stack of croissant sandwich at wedding reception partySung Jun Oem/Getty Images

Feeding a Party Can Be Like Feeding a Basketball Team

Make sure you have enough food. Try making dishes that can be created ahead of time by using casserole and slow-cooker recipes that will keep for a while. These March Madness appetizers are also guaranteed to feed your team.

More Than One Kind of Ball

If your party is smaller, you might want to add to the party’s basketball theme by serving only ball or circle-shaped dishes. These one-bite appetizers make feeding the crowd easy. Alternatively, have everyone pitch in for a few pizzas—we have a hunch they won’t turn you down.

Use a Cooler to Store Drinks at Your Party

In addition to serving soda, bottled water and beer, throw a couple of sports drinks like Gatorade in your cooler to create a game-time atmosphere. Looking to fill everyone up with something from the heart? These potluck party drinks are guaranteed to satisfy and get the party pumpin’.

Dress the Part

Make it easy for your guests to find you by wearing a referee jersey and carry a whistle to get their attention—just for fun. If you’re on no one’s side, it’s always a blast to hype up the rivalry. Try an opposing team’s jersey, just to keep the party interesting.

So exciting. Three young interested guys are sitting on sofa and expressing exhilaration while watching sport game with opened mouthes. Friends are eating popcorn and drinking beerYakobchukOlena /iStock / Getty Images Plus

Hoop Dreams

Buy inflatable basketballs or foam balls and set up a basketball hoop in the room where people will be watching the game. And you can always bring these tailgating party ideas inside for some extra fun.

World’s Greatest Fan

Create a basketball trivia game with questions about the teams playing in the games. For example: Who was the (insert school name here) coach in 1980? Name a pro player who used to play for (insert name of school).

Crank the Tunes

Every party needs a little music. Try something from the ESPN “Jock Jams” collection. These songs are designed to pump up fans during games—and parties.


In between games, play your own basketball game in the driveway or in the park down the street. Too cold outside? Have a dribbling contest in the basement. Nothing releases game tension for a fan like a little exercise.

Young bet friends sitting on a sofa in living room and playing video games. Family relaxing time at home concept. Cropped.Pinkypills/Getty Images

Not Into Exercise?

Bring out the video games. If you don’t own a basketball game for your gaming system, rent one. Add these game night recipes to your list of go-to party dishes.

Pickup Game

Guests won’t mind helping pick up when you put a basketball hoop over your trash can. Don’t be afraid to ask the stragglers for help at the end of the night. You may not even need to ask—most guests will help without a reminder! Make sure your house is spotless before the game with these quick cleaning tips.