Are you ready to take on the madness?  And if you aren’t an avid college basketball fan, you still may find yourself at a March madness party – or even HOSTING one!  So you should brush up on the basics, if you’re not already a die-hard MM fan.

March Madness is a phenomenon that grips the basketball-loving part of the nation starting the second week of March (the First Four) to the finals in first week of April (the famous Final Four and Championship). The tournament encompasses both the best mens’ and women’s basketball teams from all the different conferences in the NCAA (ACC, Big-10, Big East).

There are 1,300 colleges and universities that are members of the NCAA (the governing body of most college sports) with 3 divisions roughly based on size of school (Division I, II, II). The 68 best teams for men, and 64 for women (don’t ask) in Division 1, play against each other until there is one team standing in victory. This year’s Final Four and Championship are played in the first week of April in Phoenix for the Men and Dallas for the Woman.

The games themselves are always super exciting as there is great attention paid to making sure that the bracketing makes for evenly matched teams — with the added kicker of slots saved for ‘Cinderella story’ teams. Single elimination brings 64 teams to 16, then 8, then the Final Four then two, then the champion.

There are a whole lot of other March Madness and NCAA rules, but that’s not what this article is about. We’re the people who like to get to the part where you pull out your Bibo and have that party. The food is often the classic game-day fare – wings, nachos, chili (if it’s still cold where you are), chips and dips. But if you want to go the extra mile, whip up something cute and basketball themed. Here are several ideas, from some talented party-throwers out in the blogosphere!

blackened-turkey-sliders-no-watermark   Basketball Cheese and Crackers Party Food 1

Photos courtesy of Hungry Happenings

Blackened Turkey Basketball Sliders and Basketball Cheese and Crackers from Hungry Happenings. Savory and just plain adorable.

cake-pops-basketball-style-final_xbidge (1)

Photo courtesy of She Knows

Basketball Cake Pops from She Knows. That cake pop trend just keep chugging along.

March-Madness-Slam-Dunk-Basketball-Cookies-Recipe

Photo courtesy of 2 Wired 2 Tired

Slam Dunk Basketball Cookies from 2 Wired 2 Tired. A sandwich cookie gets transformed.

nutter-butter-referees-a

Photo courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

Nutter Butter Referees from The Girl Who Ate Everything. And when you don’t like a call, you can bite the head off a referee!

Nacho Bar

Serves 6

If you make up a simple batch of cheesy nachos, you can put out bowls of different toppings and let everyone customize his or her own plate.  Just keep cranking out those nachos because these March Madness games tend too make people a little crazy and a little hungry!

Instead of chili, you can also serve up cooked taco meat, or shredded pork, beef or chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 18-ounce bag tortilla chips
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese

Toppings

  • Jalapeños
  • Olives
  • Chili
  • Various salsas or pico de gallo sauces
  • Sliced scallions
  • Guacamole or diced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread half the tortilla chips on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle over half of the cheese, and then layer on the rest of the chips, and cover with the rest of the cheese.
  2. Place any and all of the desired toppings in individual bowls and place on the table, with small plates.  Heat up the chili.
  3. When ready to serve, bake the nachos for about 8 minutes until the cheese is melted. Transfer the nachos to a serving platter, and serve hot.