Mississippi’s Greatest Bracket: Round One

On Monday we tipped off the Mississippi’s Greatest March Madness Bracket Contest, pitting the state’s unparalleled greatest in entertainment, arts, athletics, literature and more in one epic bracket. You responded and voted with fervor! Here’s a breakdown of the first round action:

Delta region

(1) William Faulkner def. (8) Hartley Peavey 92-8
(5) Archie Manning def. (4) Willie Morris 70-30
(3) Jim Henson def. (6) Faith Hill 67-33
(2) Medgar Evers def. (7) Tennessee Williams 59-41

Manning provided the fireworks in a mauling of Morris. Many felt Archie was under-seeded, and he showed it. This was the closest 2-7 matchup — a credit to Williams. It sets up a second round battle of Oxford’s most iconic figures: Faulkner and Manning. We expect Evers to stand strong against Henson.

Magnolia region

(1) B.B. King def. (8) John Grisham 76-24
(4) Muddy Waters def. (5) Robert Johnson 54-46
(6) Steve McNair def. (3) James Meredith 52-48
(2) Morgan Freeman def. (7) Walter Anderson 87-13

The deepest bracket in the field lived up to the billing in the first round. Air McNair pulled the only major upset over Civil Rights hero Meredith, and Muddy got past the Godfather in a hard-fought 4-5 battle. Many felt Grisham was underseeded and had a draw he couldn’t overcome.

Catfish region

(1) Elvis Presley def. (8) Fannie Lou Hamer  86-14
(5) Jimmie Buffett def. (4) Britney Spears 76-24
(3) James Earl Jones def. (6) Eudora Welty 66-34
(2) Walter Payton def. (7) Conway Twitty 81-19

Spears was one of the more controversial seedings in the bracket, but Buffett saw to her exit in dominant fashion. Welty had sleeper potential but didn’t provide JEJ the opposition we expected. It’s hard not to foresee a titanic Presley-Payton battle one round ahead.

Gulf Coast region

(1) Oprah Winfrey def. John Lee Hooker 65-35
(5) Dizzy Dean def. (4) Robin Roberts 61-39
(3) Brett Favre def. (6) Leontyne Price 91-9
(2) Jerry Rice def. (7) Jimmie Rodgers 89-11

Favre came to play with a folk-hero following that should have been expected. Hooker challenged Oprah for awhile but the world’s richest woman was too powerful and pulled away. All eyes are on a Favre – Rice showdown in the second round.

Highlights and Analysis

Air Of An Upset: He’s not quite in the pantheon of Payton, Rice & Favre, but few athletes stir the heart strings of Mississippians quite like Steve “Air” McNair. We pegged his matchup with Meredith as the best of the first round and it delivered, with Meredith holding the lead for most of the voting until McNair mounted a patented last-minute charge. McNair going downhill at full speed is a force of nature; Morgan Freeman will have his hands full as well in Round Two.

Chalk Mostly Walks: There weren’t many close matchups of the first round save that one and (4) Muddy Waters – (5) Robert Johnson in the same region. The massive matchups in the second round (did someone say Rice vs. Favre?!) should make things a lot more difficult.

Tough Crowds: Speaking of Favre, we’re not sure the state fully appreciates Leontyne Price’s pioneering contributions in the world of opera. Or maybe Brett’s folk-hero status in Mississippi football was simply too much for her to overcome. But the 91-9 thrashing opened some eyes for a 3-6 matchup, and signified Favre as the hottest name in the tournament.

Five Seeds A Force: The good matchups that weren’t. Willie Morris vs. Archie Manning seemed like a slugfest, but it was a statement victory by Manning; strike a blow for king football and the patriarch of its first family. Britney Spears was a controversial inclusion and perhaps paid for it, proving no match for Jimmy Buffett’s mass appeal. And Dizzy Dean easily dispatched the higher-seeded Robin Roberts.

Bracket Feedback: We were thrilled at the response to the bracket! We misspelled a couple of things, our apologies. There was lively discussion about who was wrongly seeded or didn’t make it at all; many thought Archie Manning and Robert Johnson were disrespected as five seeds, and one guy really felt Gerry Clower should have gotten in. The depth of the bracket shows the brilliance of Mississippi’s people.



Second Round Matchups

Delta region
(1) William Faulkner v (5) Archie Manning
(2) Medgar Evers Jr. v (3) Jim Henson

Catfish region
(1) Elvis Presley v (5) Jimmy Buffett
(2) Walter Payton v (3) James Earl Jones

Gulf Coast region
(1) Oprah Winfrey v (5) Dizzy Dean
(2) Jerry Rice v (3) Brett Favre

Magnolia region
(1) B.B. King vs. (4) Muddy Waters
(2) Morgan Freeman vs. (6) Steve McNair

Second round voting begins Monday. Make sure you follow the contest and vote on Twitter @bashbrosmedia

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