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March Madness 2024 Sweet 16: Campus Traditions

Estrela Consulting March 27, 2024

March Madness 16

It’s March Madness time! Here at Estrela, we are taking our brackets to the next level. Join us each round to learn something fun about the schools in the tournament! In the first round, we explored the mascots, and our second round celebrated notable alumni.

Let’s take a peek beyond the basketball court and explore the fun and festive side of the colleges in the Sweet 16!


UCONN vs. San Diego State

Rubbing Jonathan’s nose before a big exam sounds a little awkward. But, students at the University of Connecticut will rub the nose of a giant husky statue named Jonathan outside of Gampel Pavilion for good juju on a test, or if they are needing a little bit of luck. Touring UCONN and want some extra magic to be accepted? Give it a try!  Students at San Diego State University love the social aspect of campus life and live for SDSU Aztec Nights!  This free, late-night entertainment from 9pm- 1am runs the gamut from live shows, concerts, sporting events, and more.

Illinois vs. Iowa State

Take a photo with Alma Mater at the University of Illinois! Alma is a large bronze statue that welcomes everyone to the heart of campus. Whether in her game day gear or graduation robes, she's one of the campus’s most iconic figures. A tradition for students is to take a picture with her on the first day of their freshman year and on their graduation day.  On Iowa State’s campus couples sharing a first date are known to follow the tradition of also sharing a Coke in the Memorial Union on campus. Photos dating back many decades show students on meeting up on for a "Coke Date."


North Carolina vs. Alabama

At the University of North Carolina, the Davie Poplar tree has been keeping watch over students for over two centuries. Located at the south end of McCorkle Place on the  Chapel Hill campus, this large tulip poplar tree named for UNC's founder - William Richardson Davie - has been around since before the University. There is a campus legend that if the poplar falls, the University will be right behind it. The University of Alabama celebrates Honors Day on the first Friday in April every year. Students being inducted into the honor societies receive their recognition on the "Mound", a notable spot on campus outside of Franklin Hall. This special day has been a tradition since the turn of the 20th century.

Clemson vs. Arizona

Clemson’s campus tradition is on display during football games as the team rubs Howard’s Rock from Death Valley, CA (a part of Clemson’s football stadium moniker of Death Valley) at the top of the hill and then storms down the hill. This started out of practicality, as it was the most direct and logical way for the team to get to the field from the locker room during the 1942 season. Now it is considered “the most exciting 25 seconds of football.”  At the University of Arizona, an underground time capsule was buried near Old Main in 1985. It’s scheduled to be opened by ASUA members in 2085.


Houston vs. Duke

Each year, the University of Houston celebrates the Frontier Fiesta.  Beginning in 1940, this event organized by students includes free concerts, a campus-wide BBQ, game booths, and multicultural performances.  Duke’s campus tradition is “tenting”: students vie for highly coveted men’s basketball tickets (Cameron Indoor Stadium is TINY!) by setting up tents and sleeping for nights outside waiting for their number to be called. In order to be eligible to “tent”, students have to take a Duke basketball test and complete a campus scavenger hunt among other things to prove their Cameron Craziness!

NC State vs. Marquette

One of the largest student-driven fundraisers in the country revolves around 5 miles and 12 donuts at North Carolina State University. The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a fundraiser run for UNC Children’s Hospital which has students running 2.5 miles to the campus Bell Tower, scarfing down 12 donuts, and then running back 2.5 miles to the finish line. All in under an hour! At Marquette, Tuesday night masses at Joan Of Arc Chapel on campus are a must-do for the Catholic community on campus. The chapel was built in the 15th century in France and transported first to NYC in the 1940’s; it was then rebuilt brick by brick and re-dedicated in 1966.


Purdue vs. Gonzaga

At Purdue, you can be greeted by a smile and a hello on campus when you’re walking along the “Hello Walk.” The “Hello Walk” is a stone pathway from the main entrance of campus to University Hall.  At Gonzaga, if you are walking through the heart of campus, especially near DeSmet Hall, you may hear music blaring from the third floor of that building. The campus tradition of DJ DeSmet - is the honor given to one resident to blast music out their window for all fellow Zags to hear. 

Creighton vs. Tennessee

The Creighton Pathway is an event where new students, all dressed in blue Creighton shirts, gather at St. John’s Church then walk down the mall to tap the beak of the Billy Bluejay statue at Morrison Stadium. This acts as the unofficial welcome to the University.  Since 1925, each new class at the University of Tennessee is "officially" welcomed as members of the UT student body during the Torch Night ceremony. While holding torches, students pledge to follow the Volunteer spirit of selfless leadership. The torches are also passed to seniors to help them “light the way” as they leave UT in the coming year. 

As we wrap up our look at the campus traditions of the Sweet 16 schools, it's clear they're more than just rituals; they're what make college life special. From customs to beloved landmarks, these traditions bring everyone together and create lasting memories.

Which teams will survive the Sweet 16 and advance to the Elite 8?  Join us as we delve into the selectivity and admissions data for the colleges that make it!

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Tagged: ncaa, alumni, march madness, Alyson Campbell, Jamie Kirby, basketball, sweet 16

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