West’s Best Bets takes off on another trip leaving the Grand Canyon State and traveling due north to America’s playground, Las Vegas. After spending time at UNLV, we head east into the great Rocky Mountains and visit the People’s Republic of Boulder and the University of Colorado. While one school is located in the City of Sin and excess, the other has banned all alcohol on campus and at all campus events.
A short 5 ½ hour drive northwest of Tempe and Arizona State University is the city of Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Located just north of the airport and 2 miles east of the famed Las Vegas strip is the 337-acre campus which includes a medical center, the state’s only dental school and law school. From it’s humble beginnings in 1951 as an extension program for the state university in Reno, it wasn’t until 1957 when classes met for the first time at Nevada Southern University. A strong desire to break free from the University of Nevada led the students to adopt the Rebel as their name and mascot. It wasn’t until 1964 that NSU graduated its own students and changed to the current University of Nevada-Las Vegas five years later. Now let’s check out the rankings:
- Men’s Basketball – 19 tournament appearances including nine consecutive trips,10 Sweet Sixteens, four Final Fours and one National Championship. They also have 12 regular season championships and 13 Tournament Championships.
- Football – Bowl Record of 3-0, two Conference Titles in the PCAA Conference before moving to the WAC and Mountain West.
- Baseball – 10 Tournament appearances and 10 Conference Championships.
- 7 Total National Championships
- Other National Championships (6) – Men’s Golf (2), Men’s Tennis (2), Women’s Track & Field (2).
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas had a dominant run in basketball in the ‘80s finally winning the title in 1990 in the biggest blowout in NCAA championship game history. They returned to the Final Four in 1991 but would not make it back to the tournament for seven years. Although their bowl record is undefeated, they weren’t high level bowl games. A lack of strong athletics across the board for all remaining sports earns the University of Nevada, Las Vegas 17 out of a possible 30 points.
You know that the women in Sin City are hot, but what about the women who go there to attend school? While visiting the campus I was impressed that so many people were out and about so early, an amazing feat for me as I am never up early in Vegas. The women on campus were definitely attractive and the warm desert air kept them in my favorite outfit of daisy dukes and t-shirts. We have the Fitness Management program at UNLV to thank for some of the hottest women on campus including smoking hot UFC Octagon Girl, Arianny Celeste. She also placed at No. 23 on Maxim’s Hot 100 List in 2010 as well as a Playboy cover girl that year – 21 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
First and foremost, the bars and pubs in Las Vegas are some of the best in the world, but if you aren’t looking to go to the strip and stay close to campus, here are the best places to hit up. The Freakin’ Frog has some of the best beers on tap with many hard to find beers as well. They serve good bar food and pizzas, but the beer is the real draw here. The Crown & Anchor Pub is your typical British pub with a great dive-y feel to it and their pub fare is above average for such a dive. If you’re looking for a fancy pants night out and love Whiskey, do yourself a favor and hit up the Whiskey Attic, it is truly a whiskey lover’s dream with over 600 bottles of whiskey and tasting classes to enjoy flights of their liquid gold – 20 out of 20 possible points.
Situated in an arid basin on the Mojave desert floor, the Las Vegas Valley sits at an elevation of right around 2,000 feet above sea level. With a wider range of temperature extremes, Vegas is hot and dry in the summer with highs reaching in to the 110’s but their winters are cooler due to the higher elevation. Snow is common on the mountains surrounding the city but rare in the Las Vegas Valley proper. Much like the metro Phoenix area, it is darn hot in the summer but nice the rest of the year – 12 out of 15 possible points.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas currently has over 28,000 students seeking Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees. They are deemed a “research-intensive” university by the Carnegie Foundation and ranked 115 by Washington Monthly. U.S. News & World Report designates UNLV as a Tier Two school – 5 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 75%
With a very long stretch of lonely highway ahead of me, I wake up with the dawn and leave the City of Sin heading for the Rocky Mountains and the University of Colorado – Boulder. Hitting the I-15 stocked with plenty of coffee, sunflower seeds and a killer iPod playlist, I cross the desolate state of Utah and finally arrive in Boulder after 12 hours of mind-numbing nothingness. Located 25 miles northwest of Denver, Boulder has long been a refuge for hippies and those looking to eschew the modern world and all its accoutrements. The University was established the same year that Colorado achieved statehood in 1876 and the city of Boulder is often regarded as a premier location for health and well-being. CU-Boulder is not considered a rival of the aforementioned UNLV but they did meet in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and I will match up the two schools for the benefit of this report, let’s see how they match up:
- Football – Bowl Record of 12-16 with one National Championship shared with Georgia Tech in 1990. They have won 26 Conference Championship although only six at the Division I level- Big Eight (5) and Big 12 (1). They have also won four Big 12 North Division Championships.
- Men’s Basketball – 11 tournament appearances, advancing four times to the Elite Eight and the Final Four twice. They have nine regular season championships and are the defending Pac-12 Conference Tournament Champion.
- Women’s Basketball – 13 tournament appearances, advancing three times to the Sweet Sixteen and three times to the Elite Eight. They have two regular season championships and are five-time Conference Tournament Champions.
- Skiing – Leave it to CU-Boulder to dominate the sport of college skiing with 18 National Championships and 25 Conference Championships.
- 24 Total National Championships
- Other National Championships (5) – Men’s Cross Country (3), Women’s Cross Country (2).
The football teams of CU-Boulder dominated the Big 12 North Division winning it four of five years in the first half of the 2000s but have since been terrible especially after joining the Pac-12 Conference. The Men’s Basketball team in the other hand shocked the Conference in beating Arizona in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Tournament. They absolutely dominate the sport of skiing with 17 National Titles, 83 individual National Champions and 50 individuals competing in the Olympics 80 times. For this I award the University of Colorado – Boulder 23 out of a possible 30 points.
One would think with such cold weather for most of the year, the student body would be bundled up in layers of clothes hiding what God gave them – one would be wrong. CU-Boulder is often listed in the Nation’s Top Party Schools by Playboy and other national publications and the women are beauties. Nicole Fox, a CU-Boulder grad won America’s Next Top Model and is an absolutely stunning redhead – 22 out of 25 possible points.
Local Bars & Pubs
Colorado has many local brews and breweries including five in Boulder alone, but if you don’t mind a little driving, some of the best beer in the country and world is waiting for you. If you are just looking to hang out around campus watch the game and pound some suds, Boulder has you covered as well. The Sink is a great college bar and I would recommend it to anybody in the Boulder area looking for a funky, hip vibe. If you are looking for a crazy drinking experience with some of the wildest concoctions in a rooftop bar, head on over to K’s China and live it up – 17 out of 20 possible points.
Cold, snowy and cold, even when it looks nice outside, it is still cold. With summertime highs in the 80’s, it is an incredibly beautiful time of year to enjoy the outdoors and everything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. The summer is short-lived and when the weather changes, it does so on a dime and stays that way for a long, long time. If skiing and snowboarding are your thing, then Boulder is for you, if you are like me, I need the sun and women in skimpy clothes – 10 out of 15 possible points.
CU-Boulder has a delicate balancing act, ranked as top party school as well as in the top of many academic areas. It is the home of 11 Nobel Laureates, eight MacArthur Fellows and a stunning 18 astronauts including members of the Challenger and Columbia crews. Sixteen of the colleges programs are currently ranked in the Top 50 in the nation with four in the Top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking. It is ranked No. 24 nationally by the Academic Ranking of Worldwide Universities and a noted member of the Public Ivy League of colleges. – 8 out of 10 possible points.
FINAL GRADE 80%
Although Sin City and the University of Las Vegas have wonderful weather and a multitude of great opportunities for nightlife, CU-Boulder is the hands-down winner. Their athletics programs are good, their academics are great and the party scene in little Boulder is one of the best in the country. If you are looking for a true college atmosphere with all four seasons and plenty of good times, get your butt up to the Rocky Mountains and enroll in the University of Colorado-Boulder, I hear they just made marijuana legal there.