The Famous Faces Bracket


You can almost certainly find a 68-team bracket for anything on the Internet. Brackets are a perfect thing, perfect for the most exciting sporting event in America, and also perfect for debates, no matter how arbitrary.

On Monday, Sports on Earth brought you in-depth analysis of every NCAA tournament region. The rest of the week, we bring you analysis of an incredibly unscientific bracket: Our famous faces of the NCAA tournament. We’ve replaced every team with a famous alum — sometimes the most famous alum, sometimes a famous alum — chosen very quickly. I can assure you that the first- and second-round picks were also made rather quickly. FULL DISCLOSURE: I was born in 1988. Your bracket pickers the rest of the week will have a deeper pool of knowledge to draw from. Argue away in the comments, but, remember, don’t take this too seriously. Please. And SEE THE FULL BRACKET HERE.

**Note: Representatives of schools did not necessarily graduate from those schools, or even attend them for very long.


16 Jesse Jackson (North Carolina A&T) vs. 16 Samantha Ponder (Liberty)

Conversation in relation to this:

“I don’t even know what to say about Jesse Jackson.”

“As little as possible.”

Winner: Samantha Ponder

11 Hillary Scott (Middle Tennessee) vs. 11 Mark Teahen (St. Mary’s)

Scott is the lead singer of Grammy Award favorite Lady Antebellum. Teahen was last seen in the majors playing various positions for the Blue Jays in 2011 (he’s in spring training as a non-roster invitee with the Diamondbacks). When you search’s video archives, his first two results are a sacrifice fly in spring training and a game-tying walk, which sounds about right. But nobody wants to win a Grammy.

Winner: Mark Teahen

13 Michael Hoffman (Boise State) vs. 13 Bill Raftery (La Salle)

Hoffman has directed 13 movies, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and 2012’s “Gambit,” which has a 14-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Bill Raftery may be my favorite thing about college basketball.

Winner: Bill Raftery

16 Nicholas Pileggi (LIU Brooklyn) vs. 16 Lindsay Czarniak (James Madison)

ESPN recently had Czarniak, a “SportsCenter” anchor, throw eggs at Calvin Johnson. Pileggi wrote “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”

Winner: Nicholas Pileggi



1 Sue Grafton (Louisville) vs. 16 Samantha Ponder (Liberty)

Grafton has written a long series of mystery novels, none of which I have read. Ponder is the ESPN sideline reporter who is married to Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder. Tommy Tomlinson picked Sue as the Louisville representative, so I’ll trust his judgment.

Winner: Sue Grafton

8 Keith Carradine (Colorado State) vs. 9 Brad Pitt (Missouri)

Carradine has acted in 128 things, according to IMDB, but that doesn’t trump being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars for a couple decades.

Winner: Brad Pitt

5 Garth Brooks (Oklahoma State) vs. 12 Phil Knight (Oregon)

I wear Nike sneakers almost every day, and I certainly enjoy them more than any bland Garth Brooks song that people annoyingly put on the juke box at bars.

Winner: Phil Knight

4 George Michael (St. Louis) vs. 13 Joe Pisarcik (New Mexico State)

IMPORTANT: We’re talking about the George Michael who was the host of “The George Michael Sports Machine.” Pisarcik was responsible for the “Miracle at the Meadowlands,” which this Philadelphian happily supports.

Winner: Joe Pisarcik

6 Jerry Lawler (Memphis) vs. 11 Mark Teahen (St. Mary’s)

I’m about 12 years past the three-week “watches wrestling” phase of my life, but my entire Twitter feed was in panic mode a few months back when The King collapsed during a broadcast because of a heart attack. Fortunately, Lawler was OK, and just two months later he returned to the air. Teahen once grounded into a league-high 23 double plays.

Winner: Jerry Lawler

3 Magic Johnson (Michigan State) vs. 14 Jacki Lyden (Valparaiso)

Lyden is an NPR correspondent who has reported from all over the world, but I’m not sure how one is supposed to beat Magic in a March Madness bracket.

Winner: Magic Johnson

7 Bob Gibson (Creighton) vs. 10 William Howard Taft (Cincinnati)

The 27th president of the United States, Taft was the handpicked successor to Teddy Roosevelt. So disappointed with Taft’s performance, Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate four years later in 1912, thus splitting the vote and giving Democrat Woodrow Wilson a runaway victory in which he received nearly 82 percent of the electoral vote. Gibson had a 1.12 ERA in 1968 and is one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. Another landslide loss for Taft.

Winner: Bob Gibson

2 Richard Nixon (Duke) vs. 15 Harvey Milk (Albany)

Milk was a trailblazer, one of the first openly gay public officials in America. Richard Nixon was Richard Nixon.

Winner: Harvey Milk


1 Bing Crosby (Gonzaga) vs. Randy Jackson (Southern)

Winner: Bing Crosby

8 Gene Kelly (Pittsburgh) vs. 9 Dan and Frank Carney (Wichita State)

Gene Kelly:

Dan and Frank Carney: Founded Pizza Hut, then Frank helped create the monster that is Papa John Schnatter.

Winner: Gene Kelly

5 Charles Lindbergh (Wisconsin) vs. 12 William Faulkner (Ole Miss)

As a writer I should pick Faulkner, but as a person impressed by the first guy to fly solo across the Atlantic I should probably pick Lindbergh. But as a person who does not sympathize with the whole Nazi-sympathizing thing, I should definitely pick Faulkner.

Winner: William Faulkner

4 Richard Myers (Kansas State) vs. 13 Bill Raftery (La Salle)


Winner: Bill Raftery

6 David Foster Wallace (Arizona) vs. 11 Brad Paisley (Belmont)

David Foster Wallace got his Master’s from Arizona, then wrote “Infinite Jest,” possibly the two best things ever written about tennis, certainly the best thing ever written about vacation cruises, etc., etc., etc.

Winner: David Foster Wallace

3 Penny Marshall (New Mexico) vs. 14 Barack Obama (Harvard)

Let’s first acknowledge that Harvard could have its own bracket of 68 alumni. Then let’s acknowledge that the current president of the United States is not losing his first matchup.

Winner: Barack Obama

7 Regis Philbin (Notre Dame) vs. 10 Henry A. Wallace (Iowa State)

FDR’s vice president from 1941 to 1945, Wallace was replaced by Harry S. Truman, who became president three months after Wallace left office. Regis once cost Norm MacDonald a shot at a million bucks for charity and I never forgave him.

Winner: Henry A. Wallace

2 George Steinbrenner (Ohio State) vs. 15 Robert Greifeld (Iona)

Greifeld is apparently the CEO of NASDAQ. Steinbrenner had seven rings.

Winner: George Steinbrenner


1 Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) vs. 16 Rod Smart (Western Kentucky)

The WKU alum who stuck out most was a guy who became famous for putting “He Hate Me” on the back of his XFL jersey.

Winner: Wilt Chamberlain

8 Michael Jordan (North Carolina) vs. 9 Jim Croce (Villanova)

Winner: Michael Jordan

5 Stephen Furst (Virginia Commonwealth) vs. 12 Dan Auerbach (Akron)

Basically: “Animal House” vs. The Black Keys.

Winner: Flounder

4 Madonna (Michigan) vs. 13 Adam Vinatieri (South Dakota State)

Both have performed at the Super Bowl. Both are highly influential in their particular field. Of course, Vinatieri is highly influential in place kicking, so …

Winner: Madonna

6 Jackie Robinson (UCLA) vs. 11 Bob Dylan (Minnesota)

Congratulations to Bob Dylan for having the worst luck in the history of Sports on Earth’s Famous Faces bracket.

Winner: Jackie Robinson

3 Tim Tebow (Florida) vs. 14 Darryl Willis (Northwestern State)

Willis will forever be known as the guy who wears an orange polo and apologizes on behalf of BP in TV commercials. Even Tebow can’t lose to BP. I’m so sorry.

Winner: Tim Tebow

7 Carl Weathers (San Diego State) vs. 10 James Garner (Oklahoma)

I grew up outside of Philadelphia, thought “Happy Gilmore” was the funniest movie ever when I was a kid and am anxiously awaiting the return of “Arrested Development.”

Winner: Carl Weathers

2 Bill Clinton (Georgetown) vs. 15 Courtney Jolly (Florida Gulf Coast)

This is Courtney Jolly:

Winner: Bill Clinton


1 Mark Cuban (Indiana) vs. 16 Nicholas Pileggi (LIU Brooklyn)

(Admits he’s never seen “Goodfellas.”)


Winner: Mark Cuban

8 Zach Galifianakis (N.C. State) vs. 9 Bill Cosby (Temple)

Everyone loves Bill Cosby, and “The Hangover: Part II” was incredibly lazy.

Winner: Bill Cosby

5 Guy Fieri (UNLV) vs. 12 Steve Wozniak (California)

I do enjoy both terribly unhealthy food and my iPhone. Wozniak is at least not afraid of criticizing his own product, though.

Winner: Steve Wozniak

4 Bob Costas (Syracuse) vs. 13 Carroll O’Connor (Montana)

I was born in 1988, which skews my view of things. But, sanctimonious halftime essays or not, Costas is incredibly good at what he does.

Winner: Bob Costas

6 Kurt Vonnegut (Butler) vs. 11 Philip Roth (Bucknell)

(Tries to think of something smart to say to impress literary types.)

(Collapses under the pressure.)

(Flips coin.)

Winner: Kurt Vonnegut

3 Chris Farley (Marquette) vs. 14 Woodrow Wilson (Davidson)

A brief discussion of this matchup in Sports on Earth’s headquarters elicited split opinions on “Tommy Boy.” Wilson navigated the United States through World War I and is frequently rated as one of the 10 best presidents.

Winner: Woodrow Wilson

7 Roger Ebert (Illinois) vs. 10 Trey Parker and Matt Stone (Colorado)

Yes, I’m 25 and have spent much more time reading Ebert movie reviews than watching “South Park” episodes.

Winner: Roger Ebert

2 The Rock (Miami) vs. 15 Dave Brubeck (Pacific)

I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about jazz. The Rock seems like a nice guy.

Winner: The Rock

THE BRACKET (click for larger version)

Check back Wednesday as Tommy Tomlinson breaks down the third round.


10 thoughts on “The Famous Faces Bracket

  1. I’m afraid you blew it with your Duke–Albany matchup: Richard Nixon is the reason you weren’t drafted and sent to Afghanistan. Nixon in a landslide (kinda like ’72).

  2. Great concept, and I even learned where some famous people went to college. We are stretching it a wee bit with Woodrow Wilson — who, it turns out, spent a year a Davidson (though his undergrad degree is from Princeton, where he was later president of the university) — but my Q is: what’s the story with Kurt Vonnegut and Butler? He went to Cornell, then U of Chicago for grad school, didn’t he?

    • Yeah, should probably clarify that many of the people in the bracket never actually graduated from these schools, but all at least spent some time there.

      Vonnegut did start school at Butler, although yes again it is a bit of a stretch. (From the Butler website: “Author Kurt Vonnegut left Butler in 1942 after managing no better than a “C” average in his English courses.

      • Hey, no sweat; we can’t all graduate from every school we attend. But that Butler thing (which I saw, too) smells apocryphal. Obits & bios place him at Cornell during that time. Maybe it’s a case for Snopes. However I strongly agree with your coin flip, Vonnegut over Philip Roth!

  3. Just thought to let you know, your bracket in the first paragraph (see full bracket here) has lindburgh breating Faulkner… I know your bracket in the lower part of the page is fixed, but just letting you know.

    I thought it was a very cool thought and conversation provoking article. I’m looking forward to your next round and seeing bring crosby and gene kelly face off in particular…

    • I will concede that Bobby Hebert would have been an excellent pick and I am now regretting this decision.

  4. Just because you read Roger Ebert doesn’t mean everybody does. If I asked random people, I bet more would know of Trey Parker/Matt Stone than Roger Ebert.