CHICAGO (CBS) — Northwestern University basketball has never seen a day quite like this one; Thursday afternoon, the Wildcats will play their first-ever NCAA Tournament game.

Excitement was building Thursday morning on campus in Evanston. Finals week was in full swing, so it was proving to be an interesting balancing act for students who want to be part of the hysteria.

Several watch parties have been scheduled in the Chicago area for the Wildcats’ first NCAA Tournament game at 3:30 p.m., when they play Vanderbilt in Salt Lake City.

Many have dubbed the Wildcats as the Cinderella of the tournament this year; they’re the feel-good story in their first trip to the Big Dance.

On Wedneday, Northwestern held its first open practice in Salt Lake City.

Sophomore center Dererk Pardon joked it was more intimidating facing teammate Jordan Ash than dealing with the media attention on the Wildcats’ tournament run.

“Jordan will definitely ridicule you, you know, if you say something wrong,” he said.

For a team making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats certainly seemed laid-back.

“You’ve got to have fun with it,” Pardon said. “You know, it’s a new atmosphere for us, so we’ve just got to enjoy it.”

If Northwestern wins Thursday, its next game would be Saturday, most likely against No. 1 seed Gonzaga, which plays No. 16 seed South Dakota State at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The Northwestern Alumni Association has offered a list of watch parties around the country:

Chicagoland Watch Parties

NU Club of Chicago
Watch party: Kincade’s
950 West Armitage
Chicago, Illinois
Contact: 773-348-0010
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

Chicago, IL
Watch party: Cruz Blanca Brewery and Taqueria
904 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL
When: March 16, 2017 at 2:40 p.m. CT
RSVP: nuwatchparty.eventbrite.com

Chicago Campus
Watch party: Wieboldt Hall, Room 147
339 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

Watch party: Hughes Auditorium
Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center
303 E. Superior State
Chicago, IL
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

Evanston Campus
Watch party: Norris University Center, Louis Room
1999 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

Skokie, IL (hosted by Northwestern Athletics)
Watch party: Buffalo Wild Wings
Westfield Old Orchard
4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center
Skokie, IL
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

NU Club of Atlanta
Watch party: Jock & Jills
Galleria Specialty Mall
1 Galleria Parkway
Atlanta, Georgia
Contact: 770-952-8401
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Boston
Watch party: Tavern in the Square
730 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Contact: 617-868-8800
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Charlotte
Watch party: Rusty Bucket
4810 Ashley Park Lane
Charlotte, NC
Contact: 704-643-8535
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET
RSVP: Bill Farley at 414-350-8973

NU Club of Cincinnati
Watch party: The Pub at Rookwood Mews
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH
Contact: 513-841-2748
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Colorado
Watch party: Blake Street Tavern
2301 Blake Street
Denver, CO
When: March 16, 2017 at 2:20 p.m. MT
RSVP: Alex Basse at alex@u.northwestern.edu 

NU Club of Columbus
Watch party: Champps Kitchen & Bar
1827 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH
Contact: 614-298-0833
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Dallas/Fort Worth
Watch party: The Mucky Duck Bar
5064 Addison Circle
Addison, TX
Contact: 972-233-9362
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

NU Club of Denver
Watch party: Blake Street Tavern
2301 Blake Street
Denver, CO
Contact: 303-675-0505
When: March 16, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. MT

NU Club of Houston
Watch party: Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill
1303 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. CT

NU Club of Los Angeles
Watch party: Rush Street
9546 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, California
Contact: 310-837-9546
When: March 16, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. PT

Louisville Spirit Club
Watch party: Saint’s Bar 
131 Breckenridge Lane
St. Matthews, KY
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Madison Spirit Club
Watch party: Next Door Brewing
2439 Atwood Avenue
Madison, WI
Contact: 608-729-3683
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

NU Club of Greater Naples
Watch party: Bokamper’s
8990 Fontana Del Sol Way
Naples, Florida
Contact: 239-431-7611
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Nashville Spirit Club
Watch party: Bar Louie
314 11th Avenue South
Nashville, TN
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT
RSVP: jamesfrancisdorsey@gmail.com

NU Club of Greater New York
Watch party: Professor Thom’s 
219 2nd Avenue
New York, NY
Contact: 212-260-9480
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:15 p.m. ET

NU Club of Philadelphia
Watch party: Fado Irish Pub
1500 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA
Contact: 215-893-9700
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Phoenix
Watch party: Half Moon Windy City Sports Grill
2121 East Highland Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona
Contact: 602-977-2700
When: March 16, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. MST

NU Club of Portland
Watch party: The Buffalo Gap Saloon
6835 Southwest Macadam Avenue
Portland, OR
Contact: 503-244-7111
When: March 16, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. PT

NU Club of Greater Sarasota
Watch party: Buffalo Wild Wings
5235 University Parkway
University Park, Florida
Contact: 941-378-0077
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET


NU Club of Seattle

Watch party: Belltown Pub
2322 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA
When: March 16, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. PT

Spokane, WA
Watch party: Manito Tap House
Manito Shopping Center
3011 South Grand Boulevard
Spokane, Washington
Contact: 509-279-2671
When: March 16, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. PT


NU Club of Tampa Bay

Watch party: EATS! American Grill
4502 South Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL
Contact: 813-835-3287
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET
RSVP: nu.upsilon@gmail.com

NU Club of the Twin Cities
Watch party: Cooper Pub
The Shoppes at West End
1607 Park Place Boulevard
Saint Louis Park, Minnesota
Contact: 952-698-2000
When: March 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. CT

NU Club of Virginia
Watch party: Wild Wing Café
820 West Main Street
Charlottesville, Virginia
Contact: 434-979-9464
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NU Club of Washington, DC
Watch party: Blackfinn Ameripub
1620 I Street Northwest
Washington, District of Columbia
Contact: 202-429-4350
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Watch party: Brickside Food & Drink
4866 Cordell Avenue
Bethesda, Maryland
Contact: 301-312-6160
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Watch party: Blackfinn Ameripub
2750 Gallows Road
Vienna, Virginia
Contact: 703-207-0100
When: March 16, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

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