The whole international pandemic thing that’s going down forced the 2020 March Madness to be cancelled. Or so you thought.
The NCAA is skipping this year’s tournament at all levels, but /r/CollegeBasketball has sponsored its own alternative Men’s Division I tournament: Reddit March Madness. Streamed exclusively on YouTube and executed with a college basketball video game from almost 15 years ago, this year’s March Madness is sure to be unpredictable and full of really dumb turnovers.
Nothing But Nylon is providing the exclusive* coverage of the event from the bedroom of our headquarters. Don’t miss any of the real* quotes and bone-breaking analysis that you’ll only find here because of how exclusive* this content is.
* = this means you can’t sue me
Reddit March Madness Sweet 16 – 3 Kentucky 98, 7 Illinois 79
In an incredible turn of events that no one could have possible foreseen, Kentucky was clutch and Illinois choked so hard, the Heimlich family agreed to rename it the Illini Maneuver.
With 12:15 left to play, Illinois guard Trent Frazier made a nice layup to give his team a 66-64 advantage.
Then, Kentucky unleashed the fury of 10,000 suns upon the Illini, banishing them to a realm of hopelessness and malaise that not even Deron Williams could turn that frown upside down, 98-79.
It’s fitting that this brutal exit from Reddit March Madness would seem appropriate considering only five days ago was the 15-year anniversary of Illinois losing its second game of the entire 2004-05 season to North Carolina in the 2005 National Championship, a game Deron Williams played in.
This time, it was a different blue blood delivering the message to the Illini that they can’t with us.
“It’s a fun little game we like to play, us and the other blue bloods,” said Kentucky head coach John Calipari, smoking a cigarette, periodically ashing it on reporters’ audio recorders and phones spread out on the podium in front of him, which no one dared to question. “We like to let the wannabes like Illinois play around sometimes, get to the Sweet 16 or something, maybe even really throw ’em a bone with a Final Four. Then, we take it all away from, real quick like, see, so they remember who they are and who runs the national turf.”
Remarkably, Illinois head coach Bunderwood had some of his best players on the bench during the later stages of the single-elimination game while his team desperately needed some kind of spark. Even when he called timeout with 6:53 left in the second half, down 84-71, he kept superstar guard Ayo Dosunmu on the sideline. It would be another two minutes before Dosunmu would see the floor.
Perplexed, I asked Bunderwood about his rotations in the second half. He admitted to being distracted by the shinies over on the Kentucky portion of the sideline, largely coming from Calipari.
“Did you see Calipari’s watches?” Bunderwood said, starry eyed. “They were so shiny and sparkly. And he had all that glistening gold jewelry around his neck and on his wrists. Plus those massive diamond rings that shimmers in the light. He told me that if I did him some favors, that he’s a powerful and connected man, and powerful and connected men, they can get things. They can do things.”
Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn did their best to make up for their coaches decisions, combining for 52 points. Cockburn nearly shot perfectly from the field, going 9-of-10, plus hauled in nine rebounds. Dosunmu put up 30 on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor and claiming 11 points at the line.
“It feels like Samson died for nothing,” Dosunmu said, hanging his head and starring blankly in disbelief, referring to when Bunderwood cooked his teammate, Samson Oladimeji, alive and ate him in front of the team in an attempt to motivate them in the first round.
I asked Bunderwood what he thought of his player’s comment.
“No, he didn’t die for nothing,” Bunderwood said, daintily placing his hand on his chest and leaning back in offense to the assertion. “He died for my jewelry collection.”
While a lot of the game is about Illinois shitting its pants, it’s not all about Illinois shitting its pants. Some of it is about Kentucky doing what the opposite of that is, which you are welcome to consider in your own imagination and submit you answers to me, along with an essay explaining why your joke is best, to 9879 Zero National Championships, Not Even In A Video Game Lane, Suite 9879, P.O. Box 9879.
Anyway, the Wildcats turned on the jets for Calipari in the later stages of the game as three of their players have some of the best games of their seasons. Tyrese Maxey put up 24 points, including four triples, while EJ Montgomery and Ashton Hagans both put up double-doubles. Montgomery got his through 20 points and 18 rebounds. Hagans earned his with 10 points and 14 assists.
“I don’t know anything about anything being fixed,” said Montgomery. “If you don’t think it’s perfectly reasonable that Kentucky would whoop the shit out of Illinois in the Sweet 16 like this, then you don’t watch college basketball.”
Montgomery makes a good point that Calipari backed up.
“Did I plan for it to go like it did?” Calipari asked, laughing and sitting back his chair, crossing his arms. “I guess we got a wise guy ‘ere, huh? Well, kid, I did plan for it to go like this. Know how? Because I wanted to make sure Illinois knew where it belongs. I wanted it to know that even when the light at the end of the tunnel looks like it’s getting brighter, I can close the blinds.”
Kentucky will face the winner of No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 5 seed BYU, set to tip at 8:30 p.m. EST tonight in Houston. The Wildcats will play their Elite Eight game Monday at 7 p.m.
Be sure to follow along with Nothing But Nylon’s comprehensively exclusive* coverage of the 2020 Reddit March Madness.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of each #RedditMarchMadness t-shirt will go toward helping those in the basketball community affected by COVID-19. We will be partnering with non-profits like the Give and Go Foundation on the effort. If you know of a worthy group that could use some extra funds, please reach out.