There’s a reason why March Madness is such an appropriate title for the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. For starters, watching 68 teams quickly whittle away to a sole team of champions over the course of a few weeks—where final scores often sway on the heartbreak or elation of a buzzer-beating shot—is a process that invites drama on every front. The players hustle up and down the court, coaches holler from the sidelines, and the fans? Well, the fans are the reason why the games are do or die. As the Sweet 16 teams battle their way to the Elite 8, and you and your jersey-clad squad jump from your couch at every whistle and swish, this selection of desserts should keep spirits high as the stakes intensify. Victory may be sweet, but with these treats, watching every second unfold will be even sweeter (even if your bracket is busted).
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When You Can’t Think About Anything but NCAA Coverage
Has all the excitement surrounding March Madness taken over your life? If you live and breathe brackets, this recipe for star-shaped hand pies should match the sparks in your eyes.
When an Unlikely Pairing Makes for One Heck of a Match Up
You should never discount an underdog—sometimes teams on different ends of the spectrum can make for one entertaining rivalry. The same goes for these cupcakes. The rich taste of chocolate complements the sweetness of strawberry, creating opposing flavors that definitely attract.
When an Upset Has You Up in Arms
Final scores can be brutal. And when a particular game has you scratching your head, rebound from the loss with these decadent truffles. You’ll have a smile back on your face after the first bite.
When a Coach Gets Drenched With Gatorade
Winning coaches are splash-zone targets. Watch what happens after the tops pop off of those classic orange containers, and then take a bite out of a cupcake inspired by another thirst-quenching drink—lemonade.
When a Free-Throw Shot Has You Holding Your Breath
There are going to be suspenseful moments that you’ll have to get through—and most of them will be one-point shots. Thankfully, you can ease the tension with this no-bake cheesecake. Unlike the superstitious rituals that can take place at the free-throw line, this recipe comes through every time.
When a Shot-Clock Violation Makes You See Red
You're bound to yell, “What are you thinking?” at the screen when a play doesn't go as expected. When the shot clock is showing zero and your face is colored in the same bright shade, that’s when this red velvet pound cake recipe will come in handy. If things are going to go “code red,” there might as well be a cake that fits the theme.
When a Referee Just Became Your Worst Enemy
Well, doesn’t that whistle-blower think he’s clever? Instead of losing your cool over a bad call, keep your wits about you with these cookie dough popsicles. Cookie dough is actually nowhere to be found in this recipe—kind of like that so-called foul.
When a Turnt-Up Fan Is Your Soul Mate
When the cameras pan over the crowd, there’s always a fan that grabs just a few seconds of fame (thanks to some outrageous dance moves, of course). But don’t be surprised if you do you own happy dance after tasting this coffee cake. You may not have the attention of millions, but you do have the ability to go for seconds.
When You Know That a College Star Is Bound for the NBA
Some of these players have been preparing for this moment for their whole lives, and you just may be able to tell which competitor is a shoe-in to go all the way. And just like spectators in the stands will have their eyes on this chosen one, everyone in your home will have their gaze set on a batch of these brownies.
When All You Want To Do is Cry Over a Loss
You know that every second counts during these games, and considering buzzer-beaters, even every tenth of a second counts. That’s why it stings when timing isn’t quite on your side. Bounce back from a heartbreaking defeat with this microwavable molten cake. You’ll have a say in how these seconds play out, and you’ll surely like the end result.
When Your Best Friend is Rooting for Your Rival Team
Now is not the time to say things you’ll regret. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells as your bestie takes jabs at your team of choice, but be cool. With this mini-cheesecake dessert, you can eat out of eggshells instead.
When You Know That Shot is Going In
Is a player on fire? As you watch him sink shot after shot—and you just know that attempt at the top of the key is money—cool things down with these refreshing juice popsicles. You can almost hear the sizzle.
When Your MVP Nails a Three-Point Play
Oh yeah, that just happened. When a surprise two-pointer lifts your arms in the air, enjoy another unexpected twist at your fingertips: donuts holes made from pancake mix. Booyah.
When a Mascot is Basically Your Spirit Animal
Players go all out for March Madness, and their teams’ mascots are no different. After all, it’s their time to shine, too. And if you think that a mascot got a little too rowdy after a solid play, then you should try restraining yourself once this dark chocolate and caramel crepe cake is served. It’s just not possible.
When You’ve Been Watching Games for 10 Hours
This was bound to happen. An entire day has passed and you haven't left the couch. Get a quick change of scenery and make this microwavable carrot cake in a mug. The process should take just a few minutes, so you still won’t miss a thing.
When This Might be Your Favorite Weekend Ever
Jumps for joy, unapologetic tears and the athletic prowess—you saw it all. And frankly, it was glorious. Celebrate your love of the game, and your affinity for all things March Madness, by whipping up this tres leches cake. An emotional display should now take place in your kitchen.