Americans are going crazy this weekend talking about underdogs-this and office pools-that. Good thing you don't live in America! But in case you find yourself waking up in an Irish stupor west of the ol' Hudson, remember that college basketball can be totally fun...if you imagine all those teams are actually media outlets! Here, we see the tenacious Marty Peretz of eighth-seeded Marquette/New Republic battle for a rebound against a nicely bronzed Katrina vanden Heuvel of ninth-seeded Michigan State/The Nation in a hard-fought East regional game. Your interest looks piqued. Still, you want to see a full bracket, right? A full bracket follows, plus first-round analysis.
How to Use: Click on the above and print it out. Don't be surprised by the prevalence of weird match-ups and sometimes counter-intuitive seeding; every regular season is different and no team can rest on its laurels. And so Paris Hilton/UCLA may not seem like a form of media or an institution of higher education, but in terms of determining what we know, it's totally deserving of a two-seed this year. Of course, places can be over- or underrated, as discussed below; if you can't find your favorite mag/blog/hag in the brackets, there's always next year...and, you know, the N.I.T. Winning that's kind of like aiming for a Pulitzer and getting a Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.
MIDWEST REGIONAL FIRST ROUND
Last year's champ The New Yorker/Florida (1) easily took care of business against obscure upstarts Jossip/Jackson State (16), as did solid stalwart Katie Couric/Wisconsin (2) against the clearly quite retarded Ann Curry/Texas A&M Corpus Christi (15). In a contest fraught with geographical confusion the Washington Post/Oregon (3) Ducks squeaked by the Washington Monthly/Miami of Ohio (14) Cavaliers 58-56. Heavily favored Sports Illustrated/Maryland (4) had a much easier go of it against puny ESPN The Magazine/Davidson (13), winning by 12 points.
In one of the lamer games to be played, The Atlantic/Butler (5) plodded past the Weekly Standard/Old Dominion (12); emerging from a long fallow humiliation period, Cosmopolitan/UNLV (7) likewise showed the Huffington Post/Georgia Tech (10) who's boss. The eight-seed/nine-seed battle is usually good for a well-matched nail-biter but the New York Review of Books/Perdue (8) had a fairly commanding victory over the equally pointless London Review of Books/Butler (9). Looking for an upset? Longtime Cinderella wannabes Nerve.com/Winthrop (11) finally broke through against the never-as-good-or-as-hot-as-it-claims-to-once-have-been Playboy/Notre Dame (6). They could be this year's Fleshbot/George Mason!
WEST REGIONAL FIRST ROUND
The safe pick to win it all, the New York Times/Kansas (1) pounded play-in sacrificial lambs the New York Press/Niagra (16) by 40 points. The intemperate Derridean Paris Hilton/UCLA (2) similarly destroyed thing-no-one-actually-attends Perez Hilton/Weber State (15), just as no-longer-underdogs the Daily Show/Southern Illinois (4) knocked off the shrill slow-down offense of Daily Kos/Holy Cross (13). In a game maybe a dozen people cared about, New York magazine/Pittsburgh (3) predictably overtook In Style/Wright State (14).
Once an upset darling stocked with farm-fed white kids, the Village Voice/Gonzaga (10) is now a floundering little grotesquerie no one can love, and richly deserved its defeat at the hands of stoutly competent USA Today/Indiana (7). W/Virginia Tech (5) and O/Illinois (12) made for a surprisingly entertaining 54-52 game between two teams rather stingy of late w/r/t points (and letters). The slightly underrated New York Post/Kentucky (8) pushed past the slightly overrated New York Observer/Villanova (9) in a well-fought eight/nine scrum over who gets to be eaten by the New York Times/Kansas juggernaut in the round of 32. But the tastiest moment of the tourney so far was watching the aureate slug you pretend to fear and/or respect just to get it to shut the fuck up Economist/Duke (6) smushed at the buzzer by the smart-for-real Virginia Quarterly Review/Virginia Commonwealth University (11). Come to think of it, Duke's sniveling motivational speaker/nouveau-riche icon Coach K probably writes for the Economist. Who needs a byline when you've got clout?
EAST REGIONAL FIRST ROUND
Boring! If a first-seed was ever going to get knocked off in the opening round, we thought scrappy Parade/Eastern Kentucky (16) had a shot against the Wall Street Journal/North Carolina (1), a storied blue-chip program, to be sure, but one that seemed to be lacking in size as the season went on. Alas, it wasn't to be. Elsewhere in ho-hum results, the resurgent Vanity Fair/Georgetown (2) defeated lucky-it-was-even-this-high Radar/Belmont (15), underrated Newsweek/Texas (4) stamped out the Cinderella dreams of Granta/New Mexico State (13), and the smooth-stroking Commodores of Esquire/Vanderbilt (6) destroyed the grind-it-out Grotianism of Foreign Affairs/George Washington University (11).
The little pseudo-institution with weird sexual feelings, The Believer/Oral Roberts (14), played Vogue/Washington State (3) close in the first half, before quickly fading after the center-fold. The feigned insouciance of Entertainment Weekly/USC (5) kept it comfortably ahead of the fascistic vapidity of Reader's Digest/Arkansas (12) most of the way; continuing the fade to black of Bobby Knight's career/Web 1.0, Slate/Boston College (7) beat Salon/Texas Tech (10) in a pretty close game. The East gave us only one minimal upset: in a battle between programs that have seen better days, The Nation/Michigan State (9) bagged a 61-49 victory over The New Republic/Marquette (8).
SOUTH REGIONAL FIRST ROUND
With the massive talents of freshman Greg Oden/Richard Stengel, TIME/Ohio State (1) rolled over 02138/Central Connecticut State (16), which, far as we can tell, still mostly exists as a plot point on Gilmore Girls. Somewhat overrated Harper's/Memphis (2) took longer than expected to put away the always-good-for-a-laugh National Review/North Texas (15), while the sophisticated sets of GQ/Virginia (4) quickly buried the ne'er-do-well New York Daily News/Albany (13). No one likes bought-its-way-to-success TMZ.com/Louisville (6) much, but give some credit to the slummer's insight of Time Warner/Rick Pitino; the Cardinals absolutely destroyed the classier sans-"S" Cardinal of Wired/Stanford (11).
Every year, asshole commentators will predict that some melanin-deprived low-seed squad has a shot because of a euphemistic tonic called "basketball I.Q." Now, we're not ones to deny that sometimes court smarts can overcome deficits in athleticism; it's just that we don't think this year's Ivy League champ, n+1/Penn (14) is any more intelligent than People/Texas A&M (3), which brainily put away a sad-boy comeback attempt by the indecisive Quakers to win by 16. Moving on. In a wild 121-86 track-meet victory, perennial also-ran U.S. News/Tennessee (5) channeled the super-fun of opponent Maxim/Long Beach State (12), while US Weekly/Nevada (7) needed overtime to notch a point-of-sale triumph over Lucky/Creighton (10). Finally, in a tussle between kinda, sorta pagan religious traditions, the papist-rockist homosociality of Spin/Xavier (9) beat the intergenerational, polymorphous perversion of Rolling Stone/Brigham Young (8) by two points.
Well, there you have it. You'll have to check in later for this weekend's results. But let's just say, you'll be very, very happy if you had Esquire upsetting Vogue in a double-overtime collegiate-tailgate bonfire of the vanities! Sports rule!