[Editor's note: people, the Editor-in-Chief of this blog is very, very excited. Over the next three weeks, American-import and mustached-BFF, Alex Grant, and I will engage in witticisms and precarious predictions pertaining to the NCAA Men's Basketball March Madness Superawesome Tournament. As players, teams, schools, regions, bank accounts, pundits, pride, and - yes - nations collide, you will get a true sense of what community really means. Enjoy!]
Over-viewing the Madness
JOHN: I’m pretty sure that, last year, Alex beat me by, like, one point. Or maybe I beat him. Really, it didn’t matter at all because we both scored – I kid you not – over 100 points below what we could’ve scored if we knew what we were doing or if Purdue and Kentucky had learned how to play friggin’ basketball.
But I digress…
Anyway, here’s what I like about this community this year:
1. It’s 92% real sport. Aside from some corporate sponsorship and illegal bribery, this is a pretty pure event. The tournament is played by kids – the average age of the teams is probably 20-and-a-half-years-old – who work really, really, really hard. It’s sad that such a thing is novel, but it’s also amazing to see such unbridled enthusiasm.
2. Single Elimination. Tomorrow, 64 teams will entre the tourney. By April 4 there will be one National Championship. If a team loses, the team is out. This makes things very exciting.
3. Canada. Basically, Canadians are the big story in this tournament. In fact, they’re such a big part of the story that I have made some horrible predictions that favour teams with Canadian players. I’ve done this for two reasons: first, Canadians playing for Texas and being “part of the family” is as amazing a story of community as anything; second, such lines in the sand will make for much grist in the mill of trash talk between Alex and I.
ALEX: Each year, as I chew on my pencil and stare at the yawning expanse of crooked lines and alphabet soup of school abbreviations, a vision swims into my head. As I begin to read the tea leaves of college basketball, shapes float into my imagination. A mythical beast. A fatty food item. Something that portends my annual romp through buzzer beaters and Cinderellas to inevitable bracket dominance.
Predictions | Rounds 1&2
JOHN: First, you should know that this bracket is a lock. As mentioned above, I’ve put some pride on the line for my Canadian players, which means that Texas, Syracuse and Gonzaga need to live true, north, strong, and free all the way to the Sweet 16. As for big upsets, I see Richmond going a couple of rounds because Jack Armstrong yelled a lot about them going a couple of rounds. Oh, and Utah State is probably the best team in the tournament with no Canadians.
ALEX: I agonized over the Syracuse/Ohio St. matchup, and if my bracket has any faults this year, I could see it coming from that excellent Elite Eight battle. I wish I could have Duke losing in excruciating fashion in the first round, but I’m no fool. So instead I have them succumbing in an even more soul-crushing Final Four loss.
[Editor's note: Alex and John both have special ladies. Last year, these special ladies both crushed Alex and John with their outstanding bracket picks. Robin and Michelle - respectively Alex and John's special ladies - have prepared comments and brackets for the discussion. They are listed below].
[INSERT TRASH TALK HERE]
JOHN: Alex, my good man you emo-hipster douchebag nice person cultural imperialist with a stupid clever mustache that makes me smile. How far do you have Purdue going this year? Even though, as I write this, I haven’t seen your picks yet, but we both know they’re ironic, probably wearing plaid, and were definitely selected while the Arcade Fire, the Decemberists and Vampire Weekend played in the background as you huddled over a Mac in your parents’ basement. Also, you host really great parties and make exceptional chicken wings can’t even play basketball, can you? Robin actually told me that if you and I were to play 10 games of one-on-one I would win 11 of them. You can’t do math, either, but that doesn’t matter because you have incredible emotional intelligence and are a very gifted writer. Also, if you lived 10 lives (pretty sure you’re Hindu, by the way) you would lose 11 of those, too.
Your move, cool guy failure in basketball-picking and life.
ALEX: For the past two years, there’s been a part to these pre-Madness visions that I find particularly enjoyable. While I ride a frothing winged steed, burrito in hand, through the Elite Eight and into my Final Four selections, there’s been a weeping John Horn, on his knees beseeching me, “Please please! Can’t you see that my bracket’s already dead?!?”
Well, I’m delighted to report that my mind’s eye has exactly as much mercy and compassion when it comes to college hoops as my face eyes. Which is to say, none at all.
Yes! Yes it’s true! I’m back to dominate* March once again for all the good, humble, gentle folk of ‘Merica and for the not-so-humble, good nor gentle bearded men of the entire WORLD. What happened last year? WHO CAN REMEMBER? All that matters, as Ekhart Tolle would very strangely say, is ZE NOW. And NOW is time for a beatdown at the hands and hoofs of me. I will be riding my hometown heroes, Purdue, until the wheels fall off in championship station. I think that Pittsburgh is not long for this world. And SDSU, in their first trip to the Dance, just confuses me. AND I DON’T LIKE BEING CONFUSED. So, off with their heads.
So after reading this, and absorbing the sheer magnificence of it all, I have only one question: Hey Horn, what’s that pallid and damp looking thing beneath your furrowed eyebrows? OH RIGHT, YOUR BALD VISAGE. You know what else is clean-shaven? Crying helpless newborn babes. You know what else has an awe-inspiring shock of facial hair? THIS GUY. I rest my case.
*In reality, our partners will undoubtedly trounce both our brackets yet again. See their face-melting logic and god-granted picking abilities below.
ROBIN & MICHELLE’S CHITTER CHATTER
ROBIN: For the past three years, my March Madness picks have bedeviled prevailing common sense (Alex’s bracket) and have risen to the top. In an effort to shed some light on the method behind the madness, I’m writing with a few insights on how to properly choose the Final Four.
1. Don’t, under any circumstances, take the bracket seriously. Over-thinking is enemy #1. Think to yourself: “Geez, this is really dumb.” and “Who cares?”
2. Above all else, go with personal affiliation and instinct. Is your great-great-grandpappy an Akron Zip? They’re in.
3. Pick the rough-and-tumble team. Inner city versus private polish…except maybe in the case of Duke. I hate Duke, but damn, they know how to score some points on the old b-ball court. Or so I’m told.
4. Remember: Mormons are good at everything, except maybe converting people. And they do it with a smile!
5. When in doubt, pick the Southerners. They are as fervent in their sports mania as they are about tubs of BBQ.
6. State schools are better at sports than private schools. The fabled scholar/athlete is as rare as a rainbow colored unicorn.
MICHELLE: The equation is simple, and it goes like this:
hilarity of team name x 64[( jersey colour - symbiosis of mascot) - (affiliation during the Civil War - size of English Lit. department)] + “your gut” ÷ MADNESS = The Duke Blue Devils.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to purchase the rights to other formulas that I’ve created. Thanks!