If you’re like us, you’re bewildered by the barrage of bracketology that comes with March madness; the NCAA tournament has given rise to a legion of imitators, satires, and other curious semi-related tournament type things. It seems that pretty much every website and magazine out there has its own variation on the formula, so much so that it’s pretty much impossible to escape filling out one of the damn things. But which one? To help you decide, we’ve picked 16 of the best alternative brackets going around and pitted them against each other in, yes, a bracket.
You can click on the image for a nice hi-res version if you like. Anyway, onwards!
1. The real NCAA bracket vs. 16. Actual brackets Look, I know we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the real March Madness, but then again, y’know, we wouldn’t be doing this without the real March Madness. And anyway, real brackets are useful, and the NBA is better than the NCAA. Winner: 16. Actual brackets
9. The tournament of superpowers vs. 8. Star Wars characters It’s a close-run thing, this, and really it comes down to personal preference (unlike the rest of this exercise, which is clearly highly scientific.) But the Star Wars character showdown has a fancy website, and anyway, everyone knows that no matter which one superpower you ended up choosing, any Jedi worth their lightsaber would still be able to hand you your ass for breakfast. Winner: 8. Star Wars characters
4. Vulture’s “Reality Rumble” vs. 13. Co-Ed’s ridiculous sex moves Vulture’s annual TV-related brackets are becoming something of a tradition, but c’mon: if it’s a choice between a bunch of identikit narcissists and something that promises to tell you what “The Oral Reddenbacher” and “The Alabama Hotpocket” are, there’s only one winner. Winner: 13. Ridiculous Sex Moves
5. io9’s Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy showdown vs. 12. Medium’s middle-class afflictions The middle-class afflictions idea is a clever one, and we’re generally all for social commentary. But look, the sci-fi vs. fantasy one has dragons! And Doctor Who! Winner: 5. Sci-Fi vs. fantasy
2. Jezebel’s drugs vs alcohol tourney vs. 15. VICE’s “Hitler Madness” In the red corner, entertainment that will kill you eventually. In the blue corner, a raving lunatic who will kill you right now. It’s an easy choice, no? Winner: 2. Drugs vs. alcohol
3. The Morning News’s Tournament of Books vs. 14. SBNation’s “Cage Fight” We are a Serious Literary Website, y’know. As such, much as the idea of a competition to find the “most Nicolas Cage movie” sounds like a whole lot of fun, we’d be remiss not to go with the Morning News’s very serious tournament of books. (And anyway, the most Nicolas Cage movie is clearly that dire remake of The Wicker Man.) Winner: 3. Tournament of Books
16. Actual brackets vs. 8. Star Wars characters Punctuation has had a good run here, but there’s no way that a simple pair of squiggly brackets can compare to the power of the Force. Winner: 8. Star Wars characters
13. Ridiculous sex moves vs. 5. Sci-fi vs. Fantasy Behold, two things that will never, ever meet in real life! But seriously, nasty stereotyping of sci-fi/fantasy nerds aside, we have a choice between the Khaleesi and a bunch of entirely questionable sex positions invented by a magazine about college bro life. I don’t believe the California Potato Chip can possibly be a real thing, so… Winner: 5. Sci-fi vs. fantasy
2. Drugs vs. alcohol vs 7. Musical March Madness This is a hard one: all my favorite things in one place! The clinching factor is taking a closer look at the lineup for MTV’s tournament. First thing I notice: they’ve seeded Fall Out Boy above St Vincent. I need a drink. Winner: 2. Drugs vs. alcohol
3. Tournament of Books vs. 11. PBS vs. NPR A decidedly more highbrow match-up than the last one, and it really comes down to a question of whether you like to curl up beside the fire with a good book or with your favorite radio show/podcast. Me, I still like a book, so… Winner: 3. Tournament of Books
8. Star Wars characters vs. 5. Sci-fi vs Fantasy Well, the thing is, Star Wars characters are sci-fi — and actually, they figure in the io9 bracket along with a bunch of other stuff. This means that really, this is a bit of a damp squib as far as semi-finals go — the winner can only be… Winner: 5. Sci-fi vs. fantasy
2. Drugs vs. alcohol vs 3. Tournament of Books I can only keep up this highbrow charade for so long, y’know. Winner: 2. Drugs vs. alcohol
2. Drugs vs. alcohol vs. 5. Sci-fi vs. fantasy Choose life. Choose books. Choose television. Choose Azeroth. Choose a fucking big computer, choose hobbits, dragons, gryphons, and endless bottles of Diet Coke. Choose 20-sided dice, cloaks and three-eyed ravens. Choose a Magic the Gathering budget. Choose a castle. Choose your companions. Choose lightsabers and blaster pistols. Choose a scale model of the starship Enterprise. Choose waking up feeling a bit jittery from too much coffee. Choose pizza. Choose Neuromancer and The Man in the High Castle and the collected works of Arthur C. Clarke. Choose The Silmarillion. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got… Winner: 2. Drugs vs. alcohol!