The Sweet 16 did not pay off like I had hoped it would. There were no major upsets. The closest matchup in the entire round was Teez Tabor beating Thurston Armbrister by a vote of 299-172. In the end, we’re left with just two new names in the field.
In all honesty, this tournament has been a dud so far. I blame everyone but myself for that. After all, that’s what leadership is all about these days: Blaming everyone else for my own failures.
Every single one and two seed made it to the elite eight. While I’m glad I finally found my calling—seeding names in a stupid tournament—it doesn’t make for a very exciting few weeks of Name Bracketing.
However, the future is bright. And by bright, I mean the sky is a fluorescent orange, indicating the Name Bracket equivalent of a nuclear holocaust is nigh. The first four rounds of this tournament may have been explicitly boring, but things are about to pick up in a hurry.
Despite the relatively predictable results of the tournament, we have what I consider to be the best Elite 8 field in the history of this tournament. I can say with full honesty that I could see all four of these matchups going either way, and that is extremely exciting/terrifying.
Let’s hurt some feelings.
1 Jace Billingsley vs. 2 Teez Tabor
Do y’all hear that? That’s the sound of Winnemucca, Nevada digging their heels into the turf. They have been quiet this entire tournament, but present enough for Jace Billingsley to make it this far. I was a little confused because unlike last year, it doesn’t seem like the Billingsley crew has been all that rowdy on Twitter. Last year, there were cousins, friends and even local restaurants throwing their support towards Jace online. I haven’t seen any of that this year.
That’s because there’s something called Facebook. It’s much harder to track this site’s reach via Facebook, but I found the major hub for all things Jace Billingsley Name Bracket related: his father’s Facebook page. Jim Billingsley was a key factor in last year’s tournament. So much so, that I decided to interview him after the tournament was over. Look what he’s doing now:
That may not seem like a lot, but 38 shares is no joke. If our Facebook Page—which has over 46,000 likes—gets 38 shares, that’s a pretty decent post. Jim Billingsley managed that with just 908 friends. Winnemucca strong, baby.
Teez Tabor is a fine name, and if we’re being honest, a much more interesting name than Jace Billingsley. But this is his first year in the tournament. He’s going to have to somehow muster a huge groundswell of support to take on the most feared veteran in this tournament.
I was trying to find something new and interesting about the name Teez Tabor. I tried to follow the line of logic that Tabor kind of sounds like the animal tapir. So I googled tapir and found a very, very NSFW fact about the animal. So let’s just vote on this thing.
1 Golden Tate vs. 2 Darius Slay
While our first matchup is between two exciting, fairly new names, the second quarterfinal pairing is between two aging veterans in this tournament.
This is the third consecutive Elite 8 appearance for both Golden Tate and Darius Slay. In fact, both names have made the Final 4 every single year. But the buck stops here. One streak will end.
Tate and Slay have faced off before in this tournament and it was a barn burner. In the 2015 tournament, and man did I phone it in back then, Tate edged Slay by a vote of 352-302 to proceed to the finals.
Has the Name Bracket voting pool matured since then? Is the fact that Tate sounds like taint no longer funny? Has the popularity of Beyoncé’s “Formation” helped Slay in any way? Voting time.
1 Miles Killebrew vs. 2 Storm Norton
This is the main card of the event. Miles Killebrew would be the returning champion had it not been for the city of Winnemucca. It’s easy to see why the name Miles Killebrew is so infectious. People are fans of units of measurement and beer. If you weren’t hipped to it yet, Killebrew actually has a beer named after him, called the Killebrew IPA. Here’s a description of the beer, as provided by Untappd.com:
An Ipa named after Miles Killebrew of the Detroit Lions. Fruity and Piney and just light enough for drinking on the porch or while you play Football in the yard with some friends
Good to know the beer is light enough to drink on the porch. You know if you’re drinking one of those heavy beers, stay off the porch. You’ll fall right through the dang thing.
From the moment the Lions signed Storm Norton, I knew he’d be something special:
Storm Norton could be 2 or 3-seed in the Name Bracket Tournament.— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) April 29, 2017
Norton fulfilled the prophecy and found a spot as a two-seed, but was this a move the Lions made in an attempt to destroy the Billingsley legacy? Some theorized:
Storm Norton was signed just for the name bracket, wasn't he?— (((semillama))) (@semillama) April 30, 2017
@GreggDrewandJim Storm Norton is a GREAT name and should do well in the @PrideOfDetroit Name Tournament Bracket— Alex Bisel (@alexbisel) June 28, 2017
Obviously, Storm is a great name, but the brilliance goes beyond that, as my friend tried to describe to me late on Tuesday.
I still can’t figure out what pop culture reference “Storm Norton” reminds me of, but it is indeed an extremely fun name to say out loud. I hope you are all having a warm morning today.
1 Ezekiel Ansah vs. 2 Zach Zenner
Our 2015 champion returns to the Elite 8 after being upset by Quandre Diggs in the Sweet 16 last year. I’m a little surprised to see Ansah here, to be honest. The novelty of the name has long worn off for me. The name seems as ordinary as John Smith or Ryan Mathews, but I respect the results, even if you all are boring.
Zach Zenner was ousted in the Elite 8 last year by Darius Slay in a fairly close vote. Even though Zenner has now been around for three years, the Z alliteration is so rare and so magnificent that I don’t think its wonder will ever wear off. However, I’m not sure it has enough pop to ever win this thing.
VOTING ENDS AT MIDNIGHT (ET) ON FRIDAY JULY 28.