Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March Madness: Week Three, Round 1

I've been looking forward to these brackets-- Comic book characters and Literature. I am very curious to see who makes it through both brackets. Will it be Batman versus Shakespeare in the Elite Eight? The X-Men against Charles Dickens? Superman vs. Steinbeck? Time will tell, but first the comic book characters face off against one another, and the literary luminaries battle it out.

#1 Superman vs. #8 The Incredible Hulk
Whether he is The Incredible Hulk or just The Hulk, the big, mean, green guy had his work cut out for him against the man with the big S on his chest. Able to fly, laser vision, super strength-- Clark Kent's alter ego can pretty much do it all, and in the opener he looked focused and determined. Whether it was clearing the jumbotron in a single bound to slam the rock home, or swooping in to repeatedly steal the ball from the over matched Hulk, this one was over almost before it began. Indeed, The Incredible Hulk's only point came on a technical foul against Superman, after the man of steel vaporized the basketball with his laser vision before the Hulk could dunk. Final score: Superman 11, The Hulk 1.

#5 Fantastic Four vs. #4 X-Men
This match up took forever-- they had to replace the baskets over a half-dozen times! First it was The Thing accidentally smashing the backboard as he tried to block a shot by Storm, then it was Wolverine "chopping down" one of the support posts as he swiped at Mr. Fantastic's rubber-armed attempt to dunk from mid-court. Plus, there was a thirty minute delay in the second-half when the officials had to borrow several dozen basketballs from a neighboring school because The Human Torch kept melting them, and Cyclops kept zapping them. In the end, it was The Invisible Woman who turned the tide, twice sneaking in late for easy scores and an eventual 7-5 Fantastic Four victory.

#3 Spider-Man vs. #6 Iron Man
Perhaps Iron Man was too busy reading all of his press clippings from the success of his big screen debut last summer. Or maybe the web-slinger is just that good (he's had a few successful movies himself). Either way, this one was a whitewash, with Spidey dominating early and often en route to a 12-0 stomping of Iron Man.

#2 Batman vs. #7 Wonder Woman
Though seeded #2 overall, the Dark Knight is at a disadvantage against the others in the bracket as he has no actual superhuman powers. Lots of cool toys, tremendous physical abilities (for a normal mortal), and tons of money... but would that be enough. Wonder Woman, by comparison, has super-strength, the ability to fly, and that really cool gold lasso. From the beginning it was clear that this was going to be a tight game. The pair traded baskets, Batman seeming a little tentative in the beginning, perhaps feeling some chivalric need to "take it easy" on his opponent because she was a woman. He was soon disabused of the notion that anything would be easy against the amazonian Wonder Woman, and quickly found himself in a 4-1 hole. His utility belt came to his rescue, and four quick hoops put him up 5-4 before Wonder Woman lassoed on a break away, stole the ball and sent it home with a thunderous one-handed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. With the score tied and time running down, Wonder Woman launched a beautiful long-range jumper that seemed destined to be the game winner, but a batarang caught just enough of the ball to cause it hit the back iron and bounce out. Despite Wonder Woman's pleas to the officials for a foul, there was no call and the game headed to overtime. In the extra period it was all defense, with neither player able to get off a clean shot until nearly the end, when Batman was able to dodge under Wonder Woman's lasso, then drive down the court for a layup and a very hard fought berth in the second round against the Fantastic Four.

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