The Madness of March is no longer just for sports fans -- or those of us forced to pretend to be sports fans in an effort to make nice at the office.
ComicBook.com took the bracketing of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and combined it with the passions that our culture embraces for a ComicBook.com Bracket Buster event that will coincide with the sports-ball players schedule of games.
Using the conference affiliations from the teams in the tournament, we compiled a field of 64 geek-centric characters to be put for a vote on the ComicBook Instagram Account to determine the ultimate champion.
Registered users (click here if you aren't already registered) will compete for a chance to win a prize pack valued at nearly $500, including an Infinity Gauntlet, Boba Fett travel suit case, a trio of Black Panther POP! figures, a $75 Fandango gift card, as well as a ComicBook hoodie and t-shirt.
The games will be broken down by days, just like the NCAA event, and beginning on Thursday with one day to vote for your favorite character in each pairing. The advancing character will earn your submitted bracket points for each additional round that you correctly predicted them to pass to the eventual winner claiming ultimate victory.
To stay true to the feel of the NCAA event -- and so that you can nudge some of your less geek-centric friends to play without much explanation -- we seeded our 64-team bracket in the following manner:
Once the completed field was set, we removed the teams from the quadrants and listed them by conference affiliation and their seeding in the field.
We then matched our character sets to the basketball version. More specificially, we used nine, ranked members of the DC Universe to represent the nine teams from the ACC. We replaced the conference top-seed, Virginia, with the DC top-seed, Batman, and so-on down to Syracuse being represented by Aquaman.
The other conferences were broken down as the SEC having its eight teams represented by Anime characters; the Big XII will see its seven members being replaced by those from Star Wars; Marvel only has six members as it filled in for the top-heavy Big East but it has two top-ranked characters as Iron Man took the spot of Villanova and Spider-Man represented Xavier.
Likewise, the Big Ten had its four teams filled with members of The Walking Dead; the Atlantic-10 Conference saw three teams land in the field and were replaced by Pokemon characters; the American Athletic Conference also had three squads advance in the NCAA field and in a clever inclusion we made the X-Men a separate entity from Marvel to force some more popular characters into this event, and then closed with Mountain West Conference landing multiple bids and so the Red and Green Power Ranger will represent Nevada and San Diego State, respectively.
The Pac 12 landed three teams in the field but two are in play-in games, which did not get represented, leaving its lone seeded team of Arizona as Optimus Prime of the Transformers franchise.
Teams from single-bid leagues were given a representative from any ranging corner of fandom from Harry Potter being Gonzaga to Valiant Comic headliner, X-O Manowar filling in for Penn of the Ivy League -- and many others in between.
BREAKING DOWN THE FIELD
Just like any other tournament guide, we will give you the picks to click and where the upsets may fall as we march our way to a champion.
The first quadrant of the bracket has a top-seed of Batman, but also boasts Wolverine, and two of the biggest anime stars with Goku and Naruto in his way to the Final Four.
In fact, Batman may have one of the most difficult paths to winning of any No. 1 seed in the tournament. His opening match is a walk though with Peter Venkman of the Ghostbusters, but then he is likely to face Captain America, before meeting Naruto and then either Goku or Wolverine.
There is no cakewalk for advancing in this bracket as several characters are among the elite in their respective universes but for the most difficult first round the pairing of Captain America with Rey as the No. 8 versus No. 9 characters is going to be a fun debate. In a climate that is pushing strong female characters, it may give the Star Wars leading lady an edge over the Avenger - though some of those accusing her of being a Mary Sue could load up for Cap.
The sleeper in this quadrant is likely to be Harley Quinn. She has become a fan-favorite on the screen -- both in film and cartoon -- and her role in the comics is becoming more compelling, too. If seeds hold and she downs Mario, it would not be a shock to have her advance past Goku, and the winner of Red Ranger or Wolverine.
If there is one character in this bracket that could bust its pairing it would be the Red Ranger. The fandom of the Might Morphin Power Rangers is hot and heavy; with it being the 25th anniversary year of the franchise there could be a groundswell to better Kylo Ren and a Wolverine character that some may be ready to see retire.
In the second quadrant there may be more upsets to be found than in the one above it. There are arguments that can be made that most all of the lower seeds -- outside of Grifter and Drizzt -- can take down the favorite.
Had this bracket been two years ago, perhaps Eren of Attack on Titan would hold a greater edge on Green Arrow, but the second season of the anime did not go over as well as the first, leading to some doubt.
Belle is the lone representative for Disney Princesses -- and in every real NCAA tournament there is always a 12-seed that knocks out a 5 -- so Maggie needs to have her guns drawn because not everything that tries to take you out is a zombie. This time it is a well-read, inventor, ballroom dancing beauty.
All of Buzz Lightyear, the Green Ranger, Leonardo, and Thor are leaders of their respective groups and as such Harry Potter, Cable, Negan, and Luffy need to be prepared.
The most interesting mini-bracket here is the the pocket of Maggie, Belle, Harry, and Buzz. Whichever character comes out of there is likely to be subject to scrutiny and each can make an excellent defense of the selection from the fans. We will be curious to see who takes on Spider-Man with a chance to advance to the finals of this quadrant.
We will not hold back in saying that the result we absolutely want to have happen is for Leia and Luke meet for the right to represent this quadrant. Leia probably has the more difficult path as she opens with Godzilla and then has to down a pop culture darling in either Deadpool or Hellboy -- though she would be the clear favorite versus Hellboy, Deadpool could cause problems. From there it is a likely date with Iron Man just a month before Infinity War, may be too much to overcome.
For Luke, it is probably an easier path as downing Sonic and Izuku or Charizard should be no worry. The way out of the mini-bracket has Rick Grimes as higher seed, but not the favorite, or Gohan if he can edge The Hulk. All of that seems very doable.
It is the back half of that scenario that is very intriguing as Gohan and The Hulk is a toss-up, as will be its winner against Rick. The sentence seems unfathomable as just a few years ago The Walking Dead leader was flying high, but a slow second half to Season 7 and a slumping Season 8, may have made him vulnerable.
If there was a character that could burst your bracket it would be the Merc with the Mouth. The Robert Liefeld creation is going to crush the box office in the forthcoming sequel and that momentum could begin with fans flexing on the ballot box.
The fourth quadrant may be the most interesting, and eclectic, of the groupings.
Its four-seeded characters of Darth Vader, Superman, Michonne, and Vegeta could all be eliminated in the second round, depending on the pairings.
Black Panther has amassed a $1B movie in the last month which could spell doom for the Dark Side. Supes has the top character from the Pokemon franchise, or Yoda, staring him down. Not only does Michonne have a nostalgia favorite in He-Man in the first pairing she could bump into Han Solo for the second round, making it very difficult to advance. While the four-seed, Vegeta, has to be prepared for 2017 movie darling, Wonder Woman, or a comic-favorite and soon-to-the-big-screen, Spawn.7comments
The long shot to be a Cinderella-like fairy tale is He-Man. The Masters of the Universe has been back in the news with a movie version, as well as a re-boot of his partner She-ra in a live-action event. With the popularity of The Walking Dead fading and a second round match with Han Solo or Aquaman, it could be time for Castle Grayskull to firm up its defenses as it could go into the second weekend.