Welcome to the first annual Mad About Movies March Madness Madness! We could think of no better way to kick off our first bracket challenge than by asking you, the listeners, to join us in picking the best basketball movie of all-time. By now, you have no doubt listened to our Selection Sunday episode (if you haven’t, you can find that here or on the podcast platform of your preference) wherein we broke down the 32 applicable basketball movies and seeded the field. From there, I filled in the bracket in a manner befitting the NCAA Selection Committee (that is, I drank a lot of soda and threw darts at a poster board) and now we hand the results over to you. We’ll do this in stages in conjunction with the actual NCAA Tournament so this week, you can vote on the first round then we’ll move on to the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, etc. from there. Here’s a quick primer on the first-round matchups.
QUICK NOTE: For a movie to be considered for entrance into this highly prestigious event, at least one of us had to have seen said movie. This unfortunately meant the exclusion of such properties as The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Fastbreak, Heaven is a Playground, etc. Apologies to these films and their champions.
THE SHORT SHORTS REGION
(#1) Hoosiers vs (#8) Juwanna Mann
The prohibitive favorite of the tournament, Hoosiers faces a very weak challenger in the form of one of the most offensive and horribly unfunny movies in the history of film, basketball movie or other. If Juwanna Mann wins, I will kill the bracket immediately. You’ve been warned.
(#2) Blue Chips vs (#7) Like Mike
Vegas has decent odds on Like Mike upsetting Shaq and Nick Nolte based solely on recency bias. Blue Chips is not really a good movie but it is a good basketball movie, if that makes sense. Then again, Like Mike has a Dirk Nowitzki cameo and that can’t be underestimated.
(#3) Glory Road vs (#6) The Air Up There
Somewhere between Sweet Home Alabama and The Mysteries of Laura, Josh Lucas looked like he might be a solid B-List movie star in Glory Road, based on the amazing story of the 1979 UTEP basketball team. For its part, The Air Up There features Kevin Bacon trying to play basketball which is unintentionally hilarious.
(#4) The Basketball Diaries vs (#5) Baseketball
It’s always hard to call a 4-5 matchup an “upset” as they are by their very nature close in quality. But were I betting man, I’d throw some money at Baseketball’s upset chances. Steeeeevvvve Perry!
THE SHUTTLESWORTH REGION
(#1) He Got Game vs (#8) Celtic Pride
Someone already contacted us to let us know that Celtic Pride should be a one seed. I can only assume this person was actually involved in the production of Celtic Pride because Celtic Pride is TRASH. He Got Game is the only basketball movie to feature Denzel Washington and that should be enough to get it through the first round at least. (Also, Jesus Shuttlesworth is one of the all-time great character names and that’s worth a few votes.)
(#2) Space Jam vs (#7) High School Musical
Space Jam could’ve easily been a one seed in this tournament if not for some sloppy guard play down the stretch. (How in the world does the final score end up in the mid-70’s when one team features Michael Jordan and the other features a group of intergalactic superstars? Ridiculous!) Despite the late season stumbles, Space Jam enters the tournament as the odds-on favorite while High School Musical is not even a real movie.
(#3) Finding Forrester vs (#6) Air Bud
You can almost smell the upset. (Or maybe that’s the unbathed golden retriever.) Finding Forrester is the VASTLY superior film and features perhaps the only good Sean Connery performance of the 2000’s. But Air Bud features a golden retriever who can magically shoot hoops and apparently a lot of fans who don’t have kids so they haven’t had to watch this recently. A match up for the ages.
(#4) Above the Rim vs (#5) The Pistol
It’s been ages since I’ve seen either of these films but I enjoy a matchup of Tupac and Pistol Pete Maravich. I think Above the Rim wins but almost everyone my age has seen The Pistol at a school or church event a dozen times so maybe nostalgia takes over.
THE HOYLE HUSTLE REGION
(#1) White Men Can’t Jump vs (#8) Thunderstruck
White Men could easily be the number one overall seed in this tournament and Thunderstruck is only NOT the worst movie of the bunch because Juwanna Mann is so awful. You can’t ask much more from a movie than American Treasure Woody Harrelson, peak Wesley Snipes, and lighthearted cons. Not even Kevin Durant’s mother is voting for Thunderstruck.
(#2) Love and Basketball vs (#7) Semi-Pro
L&B should be a prohibitive favorite to move on in this round but Kent’s insistence that Semi-Pro has some funny bits has me worried. I’m counting on our female listeners and anyone who has ever watched Love and Basketball on a date to see us through here.
(#3) Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot vs (#6) Sonicsgate
In a battle of underseen documentaries, I have to believe that Dirk comes out on top. Also, you should know that if Sonicsgate somehow wins, I will personally see that all of your lives are ruined because Dirk Forever.
(#4) Eddie vs (#5) Forget Paris
Eddie is so much worse than Forget Paris as a movie but as a basketball movie, the former destroys the latter. Does Forget Paris feature John Salley in a prominent role? Didn’t think so. Does Forget Paris give Frank Langella leeway to do a really weird Texas (?) accent? Nope. Does Eddie seem increasingly likely to actually happen given James Dolan’s horrific handling of the Knicks over the last decade? YEP. Team Eddie.
THE WINDY CITY REGION
(#1) Hoop Dreams vs (#8) Rebound
Hoop Dreams would have a prominent place in the Greatest Documentaries of All-Time bracket. Rebound only made the list because we ran out of basketball movies. That’s all I need to say, right?
(#2) Teen Wolf vs (#7) Just Wright
There’s no more perplexing movie in this tournament than Teen Wolf. On the one hand, it is not a very good movie (I’m sorry, it isn’t). On the other, it does feature North American Treasure Michael J. Fox playing basketball AS A TEEN WOLF. Which side of this equation wins out?! I think it gets through Just Wright easily but it could be primed for an upset down the line.
(#3) Coach Carter vs (#6) O
This is what makes March Madness so great. Nowhere else would a powerhouse like Samuel L. Jackson face off against a weird mid-major Shakespearian adaptation like O. Coach Carter takes this one but the first half is a lot closer than anyone expects.
(#4) The Other Dream Team vs (#5) The 6th Man
This one hurts me because I love The Other Dream Team and I wish people would get out and see it. But no one has and thus, I think The 6th Man pulls out the upset. (Also, it should be noted that as a kid I rented The 6th Man at least a dozen times from my local Blockbuster.)