The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

89° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sweet 16 is a tale of two cities: Tucson vs. Houston

Elijah Bia

A sunset photo of the Tucson Sunlink tracks around the education building located on UA campus on Aug. 10, 2020.

The Arizona men’s basketball team takes on the University of Houston on Thursday, March 24, in the Sweet 16 round of the March Madness Tournament in San Antonio, Texas.

Aside from Houston being roughly four times the size of Tucson, the two university towns have a lot in common, from supporting our good basketball teams and feline family mascots — Wildcats here, Cougars there — to what we eat and how we play. 

Let’s eat: Nothing beats the Sonoran hot dog, a staple of Tucson’s Sonoran Mexican-influenced cuisine. And when it comes to the Sonoran hot dog, El Guero Canelo, with three Tucson locations and one in Phoenix, is the top dog. Its founder and hot dog mastermind Daniel Contreras won the prestigious James Beard Award (think foodie’s Academy Award) in 2018. 

Houston has the same foodie vibe, with plenty to choose from. 

“When it comes to things that scream Houston culture, there’s so much. I guess the one word you could use is diversity,” said Andy Yanez, a Houston-area sports journalist. “There’s a China town on the west side, on the east there’s a lot of Hispanic culture. Any type of food you want, you can find, Italian, Mediterranean, Cajun, Japanese or anything else.”

Lifelong Houston fan Hugh Bob, in a Twitter exchange, raved about the town’s barbecue, “but with 12,000 restaurants plus, you can pick your favorite food choice 24/7,” he said.

Let’s rock: Another rich part of Tucson and Houston’s cultures is their music. 

Houston has hip-hop artist Travis Scott, whose latest album Astroworld went four times platinum (4 million sales) and whose 2021 hometown show to promote the album ended with 10 people dead after fans tried to rush the stage. 

Beyoncé, the 28-time Grammy-winning R&B singer, also grew up in Houston.

Tucson also has a rich musical history, including popular hometown bands with national and international exposure Calexico and XIXA. We’re also the home of 27-time Grammy nominated singer Linda Ronstadt, a Tucson native who recorded country, rock and Mariachi records, selling more than 100 million in her career. 

Let’s learn: The University of Arizona is known for its School of Science Lunar and Planetary Laboratory that sent two robotic rovers to Mars in 2003 and is working on plans to send a drone that will help researchers get deeper into the planet. The UA’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory has fabricated giant mirrors for some of the world’s most elaborate telescopes including the Giant Magellan Telescope that will produce images 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. 

The University of Houston is known for its business and communication programs.

“UH isn’t as prestigious as University of Texas or Texas A&M, but that doesn’t stop students that go to Houston from embracing the school’s identity,” Yanez said. “There’s a little bit of everything. The university touts a strong school of business but those seeking to get into law, English, communications and now even medicine can do so too.”

Lots of sand: Besides the food, music and university life, one more thing these cities have in common is abundance of sand. 

Tucson sand isn’t quite the same as the sand they have over in Houston. 

We have desert sand; they have beach sand.

“You’re not that far to the beach down south,” Yanez said. 

Houston is less than an hour from the nearest beach; Tucsonans have to drive four or more hours to Rocky Point in Mexico, or seven hours to get to San Diego to find a beach. 

Ultimate catfight: University of Arizona fans “Bear Down.”

The University of Houston’s motto is “In Time,” which matches its overall mentality, Yanez said. 

“The people that are from the city of Houston love to embrace the underdog mentality, especially when it comes to sports,” he said. “There’s a popular saying: ‘H-Town vs. Everyone.’”

The stage is set for these two cities to go head to head on Thursday in San Antonio, where the Wildcats take on the Cougars at 6:59 p.m. tip-off.

*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search