We decided the madness shouldn’t be limited just to the basketball court. We pitted the best dishes from college towns against each other in our "Bracket Battle: Best College Eats" tournament. Check out the best college food in the country and find out how to make it all at home.
Check out how we recreated the best college food around and then study all the recipes.
Tailgating at Baylor means digging into a plate of corn chips, beans, cheddar and two kinds of meat – smoked on-site at the century-old institution Vitek’s BBQ.
To tap into the Blue Devils’ spirit, chow down on a tzatziki-topped gyro bundled in an oven-warmed pita, courtesy of the five-year-old stand-turned-food-truck The Greek Devil.
Students of the Bronx-based campus voted a pizza place – Pugsley Pizza – as their favorite institution, and its saucy marina-topped chicken roll as the dish to order.
Wisemiller's Grocery and Deli (aka Wisey’s) drives those D.C. kids mad with this chicken, bacon and pepper sandwich that marries a hoagie with the flavors of a fajita.
The Center of Gonzaga (COG) serves these soft, crunchy, straight-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies at all sporting events. Now that’s something to cheer for.
In order to “Rise to the Occasion” like the Crimsons do, grab a napkin and top a beef patty with chunky blue cheese dressing in the style of Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers.
These fries have the big personality (herbs, spices, an addictive garlic sauce) warranted to match their namesake: a rowdy beer-bucket drinking game at Nick’s English Hut.
It’s a story as sweet as cherry pie: Students of the restaurant management program bake these mini treats and sell them at a springtime celebration to raise money for scholarships.
At the restaurant Real Chili, those that are in the know order this secret bowl of spaghetti topped with beef chili, chopped onions and heaping portions of cheddar and sour cream.
This impossibly creamy, bourbon-spiked ice cream cookie sandwich from Melting Moments gets Michigan State students amped for sporting events, no matter the season.
This humble, creamy pork sausage dip from 60-plus-year-old restaurant The Player’s Retreat is an essential part of game-watching at North Carolina State University.
Hoagie Haven’s #1 sandwich is not for the faint of stomach: Mozzarella sticks and thick-cut French fries top an already decadent jaw-prying cheesesteak. Phat, indeed.
Triple XXX Family Restaurant has charmed students and Route 66 drivers alike with this triple-decker cheese- and onion-topped chopped steak burger since 1929.
In 1997, hungry student Darrell W. Butler convinced one of the campus’ Grease Trucks to toss his favorite foods onto a bun in what is now a famous award-winning sandwich.
Sometimes the toppings matter most. At Cosmos Pizza & Grill, the highlight of the menu is a hot fudge-topped vanilla ice cream sundae over from-the-box toasted honey buns.
These Korean-style hoagies, featuring thinly sliced marinated beef, cabbage slaw and cucumber kimchee on a seeded bun, hail from Sammy Chon’s K-Town BBQ.
The NY-bred owner of Top Dog Hot Dog knows that a great kosher-style beef dog needs little adornment. We topped ours with sauerkraut and Russian spicy mustard.
Those California girls (and boys) love building custom ice cream sammies at Diddy Riese, where you can mix and match 10 cookies and 12 ice cream flavors.
Unlike the similar Chicago-style deep dish pie, Papa Del’s famous cheese-and-topping-stuffed pizza has a sauce-topped dough crust, which makes this an actual pie.
The crunchy chicken tender wraps sold at on-campus shop Brellas are so popular, every year students participate in a race where they down these sandwiches at the halfway point.
The salty-sweet secret Ho sauce and creamy, cheesy tots may compel you to scream “Tolly-Ho” when trying the #1 burger from this close-to-campus restaurant.
On-campus shop The Dairy turns its vanilla ice cream into creative flavors like this white chocolate, caramel and pecan fave that unites students against competitors (cough, Duke).
Students flock to Garibaldi’s Pizza, where in true Tennessee fashion, they top an already favored collegiate food with Memphis-style tangy pulled pork.
Everything at U of M is larger than life, from The Big House to this two-meat, two-cheese sandwich with Russian dressing and sauerkraut from Maize and Blue Delicatessen.
The title burger from Booches Billiard Hall is a nationally renowned two-cheese-topped beef patty served on wax paper sheets with a side of chips (NOT fries).
This burrito from Cascade Country Store – loaded with bacon, sausages, eggs, hash browns, cheese and fresh salsa – wards off grizzly hangovers and morning sleepiness.
Time-Out restaurant is a Tar Heel favorite thanks to this famous sandwich, which layers Tabasco-marinated fried chicken and cheddar slices between two sturdy biscuits.
Kick back on the patio at alumni-owned restaurant The Mont, and order plenty of the spicy four-cheese and pork sausage cheese dip for repeated chip dunking.
Fat Head’s serves headwiches (aka head-sized sandwiches), like this favorite that stuffs kielbasa, pierogi, grilled onions, American cheese and spicy mayo into a bun.
Everything is bigger both in Texas and at favorite restaurant Juan in a Million, where hot tortilla breakfast tacos are filled with a full pound of potatoes, eggs, bacon and cheese.
To support the basketball team, students order extra scoops of this raspberry swirl and dark chocolate vanilla ice cream named after Coach Bo Ryan at Babcock Hall Dairy Store.
None of the colleges and universities featured or included in "Bracket Battle: Best College Eats" is affiliated with, approves of, or endorses the Cooking Channel, "Bracket Battle: Best College Eats"or any of the recipes or restaurants featured in it.