Iconic Tailgating Foods in the Best College Basketball Towns

These college towns can be great places to visit, especially during basketball season. However, it’s not just good athletics and history that bring fans back to town each and every season, it’s also the food. From Hoosier sugar cream pie in Bloomington, Indiana, to pulled pork sandwiches in Chapel Hill, N.C., take a culinary tour of college basketball’s greatest towns.

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Syracuse University - Syracuse, N.Y.

A triangle-shaped park, Hanover Square was the first commercial district in Syracuse, N.Y., and comprises 17 historic buildings. Now the setting for many cultural gatherings and live music, the square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Syracuse University - Buffalo Wings

In a state like New York — known for their iconic pizza — it’s hard to imagine another food breaking the cycle and taking over the top spot of most iconic food. With that being said, Buffalo wings may have originated down the road, but they’ve slowly made their way down I-90 from Buffalo to Syracuse, to make a serious push to the top that list, in the hometown of the Orangemen.

University of Arizona - Tucson, Arizona

In Tucson, the university's athletics teams were nicknamed the "wildcats" after the LA Times praised Arizona for showing "the fight of wildcats" in a 1914 football game against Occidental College. The image stuck as the school's official mascot.

University of Arizona - Sonoran Hot Dog

"Bear Down" on the Sonoran hot dog, a staple on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise and more, this one-of-a-kind dog is sure to make your taste buds jump for joy.

University of Kentucky - Lexington, Kentucky

Surrounded by bars and restaurants serving up the finest bourbon in the world and plastered in UK apparel and keepsakes, downtown Lexington, is one of, if not the, premiere college basketball town in America. Being the winningest program in NCAA history has its perks, and Big Blue Nation never lets you forget that.

University of Kentucky - Burgoo and Bourbon

Kentucky Burgoo, a stew typically made with three or more different kinds of meat and assorted vegetables like okra, lima beans and corn, has been a staple in Lexington for over 150 years. However, it doesn’t seem right to have anything else representing the state of Kentucky in the food and beverage debate other than bourbon. So, we’ve combined the two for a delicious burgoo and bourbon tailgate party.

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, N.C.

Considered the social hub for university students, Franklin Street was named after Ben Franklin and has been in use since the university's construction began in the 1790s. The street is celebrated for its festivals, nightlife and myriad of shops. 

University of North Carolina - Pulled Pork Sandwich

On Tobacco Road, it’s a never ending blue-blood battle when it comes to basketball, and the same can be said for their barbecue. When you’re heading to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a game, make sure to try a slow-smoked, hickory-wood flavored pulled pork sandwich. They may be the best in the south!

Marquette University - Milwaukee, W.I.

The largest private university in Wisconsin (and one of the largest Jesuit universities in the country), Marquette is located 1 mile from Lake Michigan, and is responsible for Milwaukee's reputation as one of America's great college basketball towns.

Marquette University - Bratwurst

It’s hard to imagine heading to America’s Dairyland and not having cheese as the top choice, but when it comes to tailgating in Milwaukee, one dish reigns supreme — the bratwurst. Pair your brat with a delicious local beer and your well on your way to an epic tailgate.

University of Texas - Austin, Texas

With more students than any other college in Texas, the University of Texas at Austin has been recognized as "America's Best Sports College" by Sports Illustrated. The Texas Longhorns have long been revered as a powerful football team. In recent years, their men's basketball team has also made their name among the elite.

University of Texas - BBQ Brisket

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that saying holds true when it comes to the local barbecue. If seasoned and cooked correctly (which should generally take about 12 hours in a smoker), the Texas-style barbecued brisket found in Austin is some of the most tender and juicy in the entire country.

Indiana University - Bloomington, Indiana

Located in the heart of Bloomington, Kirkwood Avenue is lined with bars, shops and restaurants. It was named for astronomer Daniel Kirkwood in 1895, whose observatory can be seen from the avenue. 

Indiana University - Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Oh my, sweet sugar cream pie. Filled with vanilla-flavored cream and baked to perfection, no trip to Hoosier country is complete without a taste of the state’s rich, custard pie.

Vanderbilt University - Nashville, Tennessee

Located a little more than a mile from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt University started calling its sports teams the "Commodores" or the "'Dores" after the university's namesake Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his fortune in shipping. 

Vanderbilt University - Hot Chicken

This dish may look like your average fried chicken, but we promise this Nashville specialty is unlike any other around the country. Dipped in a heavily-marinated paste that has been doused with cayenne pepper, this spicy treat is a must-try when marching through Commodore nation.

Ohio State University - Columbus, Ohio

South Campus Gateway is a hub of entertainment in Columbus. Considered the Main Street of Columbus, it is frequented by university students and neighborhood residents alike because of its many shops and restaurants.

Ohio State University - Buckeye Donuuts

Columbus, may be considered the fast food capital of America, but on game days, it’s not fast food leaving it’s footprint on tailgating scene, it’s the delicious Buckeye donut. This chocolate donut with a peanut butter center is named after its resemblance to the buckeye nut and is the perfect way to end your tailgate with a bang.

Georgetown University - Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., M Street is part of a major shopping district in the Georgetown neighborhood. Georgetown University is the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the US. To this day, no one is quite sure why the university's team is called the "Hoyas."

Georgetown University - Half-Smoke

This smoked, half-pork / half-beef sausage, is a specialty localized to the Washington D.C. area. Spiced with herbs, topped with onions and smothered in chili sauce, the half-smoke is a local favorite of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Duke University - Durham, N.C.

The American Tobacco skyline is home to Duke University, which changed its name to Duke in 1924 for tobacco industrialist James B. Duke. Durham, embraces college basketball with fervor, selling out every men's home basketball game.

Duke University - Hush Puppies

Separated by just 8 miles from "that other school" in Chapel Hill, Durham — the home of Duke University — also specializes in the barbecue game. However, there is one tasty, deep-fried side treat found in bbq joints across Durham that can rival it’s deliciousness: the small cornmeal cakes known as hush puppies.

Michigan State University - East Lansing, Michigan

The pride of East Lansing, Michigan State University is not only home to a championship-winning men's basketball team, but it is also considered one of the country's "public Ivies." Meanwhile, Grand River Avenue is the hub of shopping and entertainment at the university.

Michigan State University - Pasty

A favorite of Sparty, students in East Lansing and Michiganders far and wide, this delightful pie-crust turnover, stuffed with assorted seasoned meats and potatoes, can be found all over the the northern part of the state.

University of Kansas - Lawrence, Kansas

The home of the University of Kansas, downtown Lawrence, is full of culture. It's home to an annual film festival, as well as a festival for buskers, or street performers. Lawrence is also filled with history; it  was named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "most distinctive destinations."

University of Kansas - Kansas-Style Ribs

Smothered in a dry rub consisting of brown sugar, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic powder, these slabs of spare ribs are a must-try on any trip to land of the Jayhawks.

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