Hold on to your brackets, kids — March Madness is almost over, and 2016 shaped up to be the year of upsets. Between the Michigan State elimination in the first round and the Yale–Duke nail-biter, we don’t know what the heck else is gonna go down in the NCAA.
In these times of chaos, we must turn to food for comfort and stability. Whether stress-snacking while re-watching your favorite Sweet Sixteen team play, or having a midnight snack after forgetting to eat dinner because a game was on, let food be your guide.
Check out the culinary truth behind each of your favorite Sweet Sixteen teams, organized by division.
Kansas Jayhawks: Kale
Kansas is that team that we just can’t get rid of — they win all the time. Kale is that food trend that we also can’t seem to put an end to. Kansas. Kale. Kansas Kale.
Kansas lost to Villanova 64-59 in the Elite Eight.
Are you a Jayhawks fan? Check out how they do food.
Maryland Terrapins: Turtle Soup
All Terps live and breathe one mindset: Fear the Turtle. It’s safe to say that most of us, even if we don’t fear the turtle, fear turtle soup. Like, who actually wants to drink a turtle?
Maryland lost to Kansas 79-63 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Terps fan? Check out how they do food.
Miami Hurricanes: Hurricane
Going to college in Florida rocks (can you say “year-round tan”?) — except when a hurricane hits. But if that hurricane is in the form of an alcoholic beverage (or a basketball team), life is good.
Miami lost to Villanova 92-69 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Hurricanes fan? Check out how they do food.
Oregon Ducks: Peking Duck
If you root for the Ducks, you might as well eat them, too. Well, not the actual players. Try hitting up your local Chinese restaurant instead and ordering a Peking duck for the table.
Oregon lost to Oklahoma 80-68 in the Elite Eight.
Are you a Ducks fan? Check out how they do food.
Duke Blue Devils: Escargot
Like the Blue Devils, escargot is super fancy and worth a whole lotta moolah. But no one actually eats escargot, and no one actually likes Duke. Snails are slimy and so is Duke basketball.
Duke lost to Oregon 82-68 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Blue Devils fan? (Don’t worry, we won’t judge.) Check out how they do food.
Texas A&M Aggies: Guacamole
No one expected the Aggies to have their against-all-odds second-round comeback against Northern Iowa. Just like we all expected this team to lose, a guacamole virgin takes one look at that pile of green mush and does not have high hopes.
But hey — these Texas boys took their game into a double-OT win over Northern Iowa, and everyone loves guacamole, despite its appearance. Plus, guac is a Tex-Mex staple, and this is a Texan team, after all.
Texas A&M lost to Oklahoma 77-63 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you an Aggies fan? Check out how they do food.
University of Oklahoma: Cookie Dough
Time for a little history lesson: betcha didn’t know that the Sooners were basically a bunch of 19th-century pioneers that settled in Oklahoma before they were actually allowed to. If you snack on cookie dough while you’re spreading it on the baking sheet, you are a food Sooner.
Oklahoma lost to Villanova 95-51 in the Final Four.
Are you a Sooners fan? Start a Spoon chapter here.
Ever wonder why Twinkies were on hiatus? We were wondering the same thing about Indiana. Like Twinkies, the Hoosiers were one of the greatest teams in the NCAA until they lost their coach and went unnoticed for quite some time. Never fear — the Hoosiers are back and better than ever, just like your beloved Twinkies.
Indiana lost to North Carolina 101-86 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Hoosiers fan? Check out how they do food.
Nothing says Fighting Irish like sitting down to watch the game with a frothy Guinness in your hand. If you’re looking to grab a beer with the notorious Notre Dame leprechaun, Guinness would definitely be his drink of choice.
#SpoonTip: Don’t drink too many beers or you might forget which conference Notre Dame is playing for.
Notre Dame lost to North Carolina 88-74 in the Elite Eight.
Are you a Fighting Irish fan? Check out how they do food.
Wisconsin Badgers: Cheese Curds
An article about Wisconsin wouldn’t be completed without cheese — specifically, in this case, cheese curds. Like cheese curds, the Badgers often get forgotten (in your bracket). But who doesn’t love a good cheese curd as much as they love a team who, last season, beat Kentucky and gave Duke a run for their money?
Wisconsin lost to Notre Dame 61-56 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Badgers fan? Check out how they do food.
Virginia Cavaliers: Ice Cream
Everyone loves ice cream, and everyone (at least in these authors’ world) loves the Cavaliers, more affectionately known as the Hoos. How could you not want to cheer on Tony Bennett and the rest of the Virginia squad? If you don’t love Virginia, we’re sorry, but you must hate kittens, rainbows and ice cream, too.
Virginia lost to Syracuse 68-62 in the Elite Eight. Both authors may or may not have cried a lot.
Are you a Cavaliers fan? Check out how they do food.
Iowa State Cyclones: Corn
Even with a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, who ever thought Iowa State would be in the Sweet Sixteen? No one seems to know much about the Cyclones, but we are talking about the great state of Iowa and where there’s plains, there’s corn.
Iowa State lost to Virginia 84-71 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Cyclones fan? Check out how they do food (coming soon, as of press time).
For real, though, how has Gonzaga made it this far? Let’s be honest, none of our brackets were ready for that. As a No. 11 seed, no one expected Gonzaga to be in the Sweet Sixteen, but here they are.
Everyone also expected Chipotle to be in a whole lotta trouble after their recent foodborne illness scandal(s), but it’s been awhile since the last freaky report, so things are starting to look up for the food chain we all know and love. Besides, we don’t know about you, but the risk of food poisoning isn’t really stopping us from getting our ‘Potle on.
Gonzaga lost to Syracuse 63-60 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Are you a Bulldogs fan? Check out how they do food.
We know you all may be confused why Syracuse’s spirit food isn’t an orange (all puns aside), but this team is much more of a Snickers bar than a fresh fruit. Like Mars issued a voluntary recall of Netherlands-produced Snickers, the Orange placed themselves on self-imposed probation last year.
#SpoonTip: You may not be you when you’re hungry, but you definitely aren’t winning the tournament while on probation.
Syracuse lost to North Carolina 83-66 in the Final Four.
Are you a Syracuse fan? Check out how they do food.
Villanova Wildcats: Philly Cheesesteak
Being located in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, makes this university of Wildcats a university of Philly cheesesteaks as well. If you’re not big on red meat, chicken cheesesteaks are equally enormous and equally as satisfying.
Are you a Wildcats fan? (Not the High School Musical kind.) Check out how they do food.
North Carolina Tar Heels: Hush Puppies
Not only do the Tar Heels’ southern roots speak to this North Carolina classic, but the hush part of hush puppies seems to be fitting with the 18 years of fake classes some athletes were “enrolled” in. Don’t worry UNC — everyone loves a good hush puppy just as much as they love their team bringing home wins.
Are you a Tar Heels fan? Check out how they do food.
No. 1 seed North Carolina takes on No. 2 seed Villanova tonight with a 9:19 pm EST tip-off. The Tar Heels are seeking their sixth national championship in team history, while the Wildcats are seeking their second.
And, with that, may the best bracket (or food) win.