COOGS HOUSE!

10 slammin' spots to watch the University of Houston Cougars and March Madness action

The UH Cougars are ready for the big dance. Here's where to watch them run. UH Cougars/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Craig D.Lindsey.

The roars are echoing across the Bayou City as the University of Houston Cougars men's basketball team has earned a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region and will take on No. 14 seed Georgia State at 6:20 pm Friday, March 22 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It's a tremendous time for the Coogs, who're riding a wave of momentum thanks to billionaire benefactor Tilman Fertitta, a visit from ESPN's College GameDay, and a March Madness hoops buzz not seen since the glory days of Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and the cast of Phi Slama Jama in the '80s.

Plenty of adventurous Coogs will make the trip to Tulsa, but fortunately for those who can't, there are plenty of local spots to pounce on for a good view of the game and good brew.

(Pro tip: We humbly suggest hitting Twin Peaks, as a star-studded list of ESPN 97.5 FM hosts will broadcast live during the day.)

So whether you bleed Cougar red or are rooting for the other Texas teams in the tourney (we hear you, Abilene Christian, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Prairie View A&M), here's where to take in the madness.

Avenida Plaza
Of course, this is the big one. Several different screens will be tuned into the game, including one large display at 100-plus inches and multiple ones at 80 inches. We also got appearances from the University of Houston Cheerleaders, Dance Team, members of the Cougar Marching Band, and UH mascot Sasha! 5-9 pm.

Finn Hall
The food hall, filled with 10 independently operated eating establishments and two bars, will be playing March Madness games (including this one) through April 8. And don't forget about the "Buckets for Buckets" specials, where you can mix-and-match buckets of beer cans, during the games. 11 am to 11 pm.

Fuego's Saloon
Billed online as a "rustic-chic sports bar with eclectic pub grub, lots of beers, and an indoor/outdoor dog-friendly patio," this isn't a bad place to watch the game. Not only will people get to see the game live on TV, but they'll also be playing the radio commentary from a live broadcast. 6-9 pm.

Little Woodrow's Bellaire
Over at the Bellaire location of this watering-hole franchise, happy hour is always extended to 9 pm on Fridays. So you can get $3 house wine, $4 Fireballs, and $5 margaritas while you watch the game. There will also be $4 select Houston drafts and can beers. 4 pm.

Lucky's Pub
It's known as a premier sports bar and pub, so why not watch the game there? Cheer the Coogs on while dining on such pub grub as boneless buffalo wings, spicy fried pickles, and something called WonTacos or Juan Tons (crispy wonton taco shells filled with ginger chicken, cabbage, carrot, mushroom, red pepper, and cilantro). 5-10 pm.

The Phoenix on Westheimer
Oh sure, you can show up, watch the game, and have a good-ass time. But we need to talk about the special this joint has every Friday, which is $8 fish and chips. That sounds just beautiful as hell. They also have $4 Phoenix brews — but it's the fish and chips we only care about! 6:20-9:20 pm.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about more watch parties.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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