While I’m a pretty big fan of professional basketball at the NBA level, I pretty much have zero knowledge about basketball at the collegiate level. And even though I know enough about the players in the NBA to make informed decisions regarding the outcome of games and playoff standings (i.e., sports betting, though I don’t do that sort of stuff anyway), I know next to nothing regarding teams in the NCAA. Thus, when March Madness finally made its rounds at my office, I had absolutely no idea how to adequately pick my bracket for the company pool.
Had I the knowledge of college players in the same capacity as I do with anime characters, I probably would be an expert at picking teams. Hence, March Moe Madness was born. By replacing teams with popular moe anime characters, I would predict the outcome of the tournament by comparing the level of moe between cartoon girls that represent each team, and how they would fare against each other in a SaiMoe-esque Internet poll. Thus, I went to the International Saimoe website and assigned all of the top nominated girls from the Nova (newer entrants) division of this year’s event to each of the sixty-four schools participating in the do-or-die tournament.
I took the 12 auto-qualified girls in the Nova division and randomly arranged them into seeds 1-3 in each of four the NCAA divisions, then filled the rest of the seeds based on the number of ballots received for nomination into ISML2012. Afterwards, I predicted the winner of each of the matches in the tournament, all the way to the grand finals. The resulting bracket appeared as follows:
Let’s take a look at each of the divisions!
Aquamarine Division (Top-Left)
Notable seeds: Tachibana Kanade (1), Kuroi Mato (3), Akemi Homura (4), Elucia de Lute Irma (9)
Of the four divisions in the tournament (Aquamarine, Topaz, Sapphire, Amethyst), Aquamarine looks to be the toughest one to survive, as there are a good number of girls that all have good reason to represent in the final four. However, top-seeded Tachibana Kanade (Angel Beats) is most likely to be the one to emerge from the chaos. She’ll have a tough time in each of her rounds, with Aoi Yamada (Working!) in the round of 64, and possibly Elsie (The World God Only Knows), Homura (Madoka Magica), and fellow castmember Yuri Nakamura (Angel Beats) to fend off in later rounds. The most intriguing match would be in the round of 32, with Aria (Hidan no Aria) facing off Homura.
Aquamarine Representative: Tachibana Kanade (1)
Amethyst Division (Top-Right)
Notable Seeds: Goko Ruri (1), Makise Kurisu (5), Kaname Madoka (6), Irisviel von Einzbern (9)
The Amethyst Division might as well be called the Meguca division, since a whopping three characters from wildly popular Puella Magi Madoka Magica are seeded there. We’ll see some intense magical girl-on-girl action right from the start of the tournament, pitting best friends Madoka and Sayaka against each other in the first round. However, I expect Charlotte Dunois (Infinite Stratos), aka France-tan, to end their sufferings throughout her run to the elite eight, beating Mami and Sayaka along the way, but lose to the top seed and fellow Hanakana-voiced character, Goko Ruri (Ore no Imouto). My upset special for this bracket is Sayaka beating Madoka in the first round.
Amethyst representative: Goko Ruri (1)
Topaz Division (Bottom-Left)
Notable Seeds: Kosaka Kirino (2), Hasegawa Kobato (4), Honma Meiko (5), Sakura Kyoko (6)
With the relatively less popular Angel Beats character, Yui taking the top seed in this division, Topaz is probably the weakest overall division in the entire tournament. Don’t tell that to Kosaka Kirino (Ore no Imouto), who is looking to make some noise and hopefully face off against her rival and best friend in the grand finals, Kuroneko. However, weak brackets usually mean Cinderella stories, and my pick for Cinderella of the tournament is none other than sixth-seeded Sakura Kyoko (Madoka Magica). Despite being my least favourite character of the show, she doesn’t have to compete with the other girls in the same division, and she’s not against tournament favourites like Tachibana Kanade or Eucliwood Hellscythe (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?). Honma Meiko is the sole representative of the Noitamina drama Ano Hana, and while she has the series support to upset the HanaKana polychrome from Haganai, Hasegawa Kobato, she doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance against fellow afterlifer Yui (Angel Beats) when they meet deeper in the tournament.
Topaz representative: Sakura Kyoko (6)
Sapphire Division (Bottom-Right)
Notable seeds: Eucliwood Hellscythe (1), Yuzuriha Inori (4), Gasai Yuno (5), Hoshii Miki (9)
The most surprising thing about this year’s International Saimoe was that The iDOLM@STER had very minimal representation in the nomination ballots. Only Hoshii Miki placed high enough to make it to the big dance, with Kisaragi Chihaya barely losing out to Yamada and Horzion for the Aquamarine “play-in” round. That said, I don’t expect Miki to do too well in the tournament, as she will tutu-looooooooose against Mayuri of Steins;Gate fame (she’s been training hard for this event, as I’ve heard). Either way, this division is Eucliwood Hellscythe’s to lose, as she’s been performing remarkably well as of late, especially throughout Saimoe 2011. Notable upsets in this round will all come at the hands of the book girl, Shiomiya Shiori (The World God Only Knows). She’ll barely squeak out an AHO and BAKA against the automatically-seeded, but now pedestrian Victorique (Gosick) and Haruna (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?), but this Cinderella run will turn back into a pumpkin in the hands of Eu.
Sapphire representative: Eucliwood Hellscythe (1)
The Final Four
Tachibana Kanade (1) vs Sakura Kyoko (6)
Goko Ruri (1) vs Eucliwood Hellscythe (1)
This is a very interesting final four, because I had three #1 seeds making it out of their divisions, with only Yui failing to do so, meaning that last year’s auto-qualifiers will have made a return to the finals. That said, I would have greatly enjoyed seeing a HanaKana finals with Tenshi and Kuroneko duking it out, but I have a good feeling that this year is definitely Eu’s year, especially with the second season of Kore Zombie coming out. Translating back to NCAA teams, this would be the equivalent of Kentucky meeting University of North Carolina in the NCAA finals, which is what a lot of sports pundits seem to be riding on. I’ll go with Kentucky/Tachibana to win it all.
Let the Madness Begin
Tomorrow, the round of 64 will begin, and I will be cheering for my selected teams, even though deep down, I’m actually cheering for the anime girl representing that team. Not only do I have a bracket filled out at work, but also in a fun little challenge between members of SCCSAV online on ESPN.com.
March Madness is a North-American sports frenzy and an annually running analog to Eurocup on the other side of the pond. Finally, I’m able to join in on the frenzy by secretly associating people’s picks with anime characters. US president Barack Obama revealed his bracket this morning, and he has Tachibana Kanade, Charlotte Dunois, Kosaka Kirino, and Eucliwood Hellscythe in his final four. The man has fine taste in moe.
I’ll be covering the tournament round by round, speaking strictly in terms of anime characters of course. I certainly can’t wait for the whole thing to begin. It’s electrifying, isn’t it?