April 6, 2017

AKABAS | Bracketology: Who/What Is Winning 2017?

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There are many things that literally everyone on Earth hates, such as airplane seats without flaps to rest your head, Hayden Christensen’s performance in the Star Wars prequels and those stairs leading to the footbridge at Cornell that are the worst possible length – it’s uncomfortable to go one step per stair and it’s even more uncomfortable to go two steps per stair. There aren’t many things that literally everyone on Earth loves, but one of those things is March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. A single-elimination bracket – the concept that you need to win every single game to stay in it – is ingenious.

Since March Madness ended earlier this week, let’s start a new bracket to determine who or what has had the best 2017 so far. The competitors were determined subjectively by me, and the seeds, listed below, were determined primarily by number of Twitter followers (credit to former Grantland-writer Rembert Browne for this idea).

1. Drake
2. LeBron James
3. Donald Trump
4. Kendrick Lamar
5. Roger Federer
6. Disney
7. Alternative Facts
8. James Harden
9. Russell Westbrook
10. New England Patriots
11. Get Out vs. Logan
12. The Search for Aliens
13. Heat
14. Vladimir Putin
15. Lavar Ball
16. Alec Baldwin 

Just as in the actual NCAA tournament, we’ll have a completely unnecessary play-in game to determine who claims the 11 seed.

#11 Logan vs. #11 Get Out

Only three months into 2017, we already have two future classics. There’s a lot to like in Logan, including themes of mortality and old-age, its grounding in the real world and Patrick Stewart’s show-stealing performance, but I think its success largely rests on its R rating and somber tone (as well as fans’ prior attachment to the characters). It’s so satisfyingly different from most comic-book movies that’s it’s easy to ignore things like the underdeveloped villains and the fact that a woman running away from an armed security force manages to leave behind for Wolverine a perfectly-shot, perfectly-edited, perfectly-narrated, informative phone video explaining literally everything that he needs to know. Jordan Peele’s Get Out holds up better to scrutiny, and was flat-out more entertaining.

Side note: The tenth highest grossing movie of 2017 so far is A Dog’s Purpose, sitting at around $180 million. This means that not only did someone out there actually travel to a movie theater, pay money out of their own pocket and spend two hours watching A Dog’s Purpose – a remarkable fact in its own right – but multiple people did that… millions, in fact. I’ve decided on a new career path. The first thing I’m doing when I graduate college is making a sappy movie about a dog. The second thing I’m doing is retiring.

Winner: #11 Get Out


We have our bracket, folks!



#1 Drake vs. #16 Alec Baldwin

You know you’re doing something right when I can’t figure out if I’m listening to Spotify’s Top 50 playlist or if I’m just listening to your album. 1-seeds remain undefeated against 16-seeds, and Drake gets to rest his starters in the second half.

Winner: #1 Drake


#8 James Harden vs. #9 Russell Westbrook

I’m holding off on making an NBA MVP pick until the season is over, but Westbrook’s 37-point, 11-assist, 11-rebound averages in his last seven games might just have flipped a tight race back in his favor. That and the fact that the Thunder would probably be the worst team in the league without him. I mean, has Andre Roberson ever made a basket in his entire life? I feel like there was this one time in the playoffs last year when Westbrook passed it to him wide open under the hoop and he caught the ball, jumped and softly dunked it, but besides that one time, he’s definitely never scored.

Winner: #9 Russell Westbrook


#4 Kendrick Lamar vs. #13 Heat

There’s a great saying courtesy of the Twitter handle @rShowerThoughts: “When you drink alcohol you’re just borrowing happiness from tomorrow.” With Donald Trump’s recent executive order halting the EPA’s attempts to reduce America’s carbon dioxide emissions, I guess Trump is just borrowing a lot of happiness from our grandchildren. Heat will certainly be winning well after 2017 is over, but for now, heat will have to sit down and be humble after a first round loss.

Winner: #4 Kendrick Lamar


#5 Roger Federer vs. #12 The Search for Aliens

The search for aliens scored a victory this year when NASA discovered a single-star system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which are located in the habitable zone, in which planets are most likely to have water. This is exciting news, because the question of “Are we alone in the universe?” is almost as fascinating to ponder as “Why does ‘fridge’ have a ‘d’ but ‘refrigerator’ doesn’t?” But why, again, do we think that aliens are more likely to live on a planet with the same chemical compounds as Earth, orbiting a star the same size as our Sun at the same distance away as we are from our Sun? Seems a little narrow-minded. Also, there’s no need to search for aliens if they’re already on Earth, and we’re pretty sure that Roger Federer is an alien at this point. Are we 100% sure? No. But we’re pretty darn sure.

Winner: #5 Roger Federer




#2 LeBron James vs. #15 LaVar Ball

In his 14th NBA season the same year in which Westbrook is soaking up attention for averaging a triple-double LeBron is going to become the only other player since Oscar Robertson to average 25 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists in a season. But you know who’s been was getting more attention on every sports TV and radio show? A guy who averaged 2.2 points per game in college 30 years ago, then became a professional dad and then became a professional asshole.

Winner: #15 LaVar Ball


#7 Alternative Facts vs. #10 New England Patriots

Alternative Facts could go very far in this tournament. I’ll show you how. Here’s an alternative fact: Julian Edelman never flung his body into three defenders and caught the football by pinning it to his opponent’s shoe with his knuckles. Here’s another: The Patriots didn’t come back from down 28-3 to win the Super Bowl. See how easy that was? I’ll throw in a bonus alternative fact: the Patriots have never cheated since Bill Belichick became their coach.

Winner: #7 Alternative Facts


#3 Donald Trump vs. #14 Vladimir Putin

The ONLY reason Putin is winning this year is because Trump is winning this year, so giving Putin the victory here would be like voting for Steven Adams for MVP instead of Westbrook.

Winner: #3 Donald Trump


#6 Disney vs. #11 Get Out

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is shattering box office numbers, and the studio still has two Pixar movies, three Marvel movies, and Star Wars: Episode VIII left in the bag. I would be surprised, however, if I enjoy any of those as much as Get Out: a hilarious, scary, intense, unsettling, thought-provoking one-man-band of movies, so to speak. The film is an experience. Analyzing it is interesting, but ultimately misses the point. Get Out puts the audience through what I can only begin to imagine resembles how it feels to be African American in this country: sometimes funny, often uncomfortable and occasionally terrifying.

Winner: #11 Get Out


Here’s what our bracket looks like after the first round. Come back for Part 2 to find out who wins.