The NCAA Tournament kicks off its Sweet Sixteen round on the 27th, with schools battling to win the title of top men’s college basketball team this year. Four days of games means there’s plenty of opportunity for snacking. But how do you decide what to make?
In the spirit of basketball and brackets, we put together the ultimate game day snacks bracket: 16 delicious, basketball-approved meals, battling it out for snack food supremacy.
We created four categories — meat, dips, vegetarian, and quick snacks. You’ll find classics like Buffalo wings, chips, guacamole, and mozzarella sticks. But there are a few surprises too (the “Cinderellas,” if you will) — a seasonal take on game day fare in the form of asparagus pizza, or a spinach-artichoke dip that gets crafty (and healthy!) by adding kale and chard to the creamy, cheesy mix.
We broke down all of the matchups, comparing the pros and cons of each dish (trying to find a problem with sweet potato chips is hard work!), but left the real challenge to you: who comes out on top?
Guacamole versus Louisiana Crab Dip
Guacamole is always a crowd-pleaser: it's fresh, bright, and infinitely scoopable. But you could argue that it's a little "been there, done that" in the face of bubbling hot Louisiana crab dip — creamy, cheesy and laden with bites of sweet crab.
Greens and Artichoke Dip versus 7-Layer Dip
The traditional spinach-artichoke dip gets a healthier twist with the addition of Swiss chard and kale. But is it enough to top the layers of beans, guacamole, salsa, cheese and more in this loaded 7-layer dip?
Buffalo Wings versus Swedish Meatballs
The all-time classic, Buffalo wings, faces off in all its fiery, meaty glory against the upstart Swedish meatballs. While wings are almost synonymous with games, don’t discount the meatballs: they’re easier to make, less messy to eat, and lend a bit of class to your basketball-watching parties.
Beef chili versus Fried Chicken Tenders
Fried chicken tenders are the ultimate finger food (and very kid-friendly), but chili has the advantage of being extremely easy to make — and perfect for making ahead. Could there be a smoky, spicy, cumin-laced upset in the air?
Mozzarella Sticks versus Asparagus Pizza:
Though asparagus pizza features early spring's most beloved vegetable, mozzarella sticks, with their cheesy crunchiness (and the always-welcome side of marinara sauce) are a tough opponent to beat.
Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins versus Chipotle Panko Poppers
Both these sweet potato skins and jalapeño poppers feature the zesty flavors of the Southwest. But that jalapeño heat does create the perfect excuse to drink more beer.
Sweet Potato Chips versus Jumpin’ Chickpeas
Chips are impossible to stay away from, and they get a bit classed up when they’re made with sweet potatoes. These skillet-roasted chickpeas match the chips’ crunchy, crispy addictiveness. Upset alert! They’re healthy too.
Candied Spiced Mixed Nuts versus Mayan Snack Mix
This snack mix features corn chips, cheese crackers, crunchy cereal, and a genius secret ingredient: taco seasonings. There are no surprises in this candied nut mix, just a tried-and-true combination of sweet and savory that is hard to resist.