Over the course of American naval history, there has been a USS Valparaiso, a USS Miami, a USS La Salle, a USS Iona ... in fact, almost every team in this year's NCAA Basketball Tournament shares a name with an American vessel of yore. As such, I've decided to imagine each team as its warship, and predict the first round of the tourney accordingly
These accounts are actually real, as seen on Wikipedia. Like, the ship with cotton armor that caught fire all the time? That one's real, swear to God. Enjoy!
Liberty vs. North Carolina A&T. The good ship Liberty University collapses under the enormous weight of irony on account of telling LGBT folks they're confused and don't deserve rights and still having the gall to call itself f***ing Liberty University. Winner: North Carolina A&T.
Middle Tennessee State. vs. St. Mary's. In 1864, the Confederacy commissioned the CSS Tennessee, an ironclad vessel that was soon captured by Union forces and scrapped for metal. Still, though, the racists got iron to float! Winner: St. Mary's.
LIU Brooklyn vs. JMU. The USS Brooklyn was laid down in 1937, did some World War II stuff, and in 1951 was sold to Chile ... who used it for another 40 years. Given that much time, a ship would be able to sail along the entire coastline of Chile three times. That damn republic is just long as Hell! Winner: LIU Brooklyn.
Boise State vs. La Salle. The USS La Salle was a transport ship in the Pacific during World War II, which means she experienced years of ceaseless terror. And she somehow survived. Also, Boise State's navy is a handful of blue urinal cakes. Winner: La Salle.
(1) Louisville vs. (16) North Carolina A&T. The Belle of Louisville is a paddle-wheel steamboat. Her sole purpose is to ferry around folks who want to be drunk on a river, and in so doing crushes all foes through the sheer might of ballin'. Winner: Louisville.
(8) Colorado State vs. (9) Missouri. The newest USS Missouri is a submarine. Submarines happen because shipbuilders build the bottom half of the ship and say "ahhh f*** it." Winner: Colorado State.
(5) Oklahoma State vs. (12) Oregon. Maaaan I don't know which dysentery-delirious Confederate admiral decided to call a Southern vessel the damn CSS Oregon, but that actually happened and I have to respect the hubris behind it. That would be like the United States adding a 51st star on the flag for the Moon. Winner: Oregon.
(4) Saint Louis vs. (13) New Mexico State. One of the many USS St. Louises was an amphibious cargo ship with a ramp thingy on the hull that lets folks just roll right on up out its ass. That is some G.I. Joe vehicle shit. Bet it's got a bunch of pegs on the deck for dudes to stick their feet and everything. Winner: Saint Louis.
(6) Memphis vs. (11) St. Mary's. When the USS Memphis caught fire, they just jumped ship and let it burn. An apt metaphor. It's like I always say about Memphis: "I have never actually been there but have heard jokes about it from online people, and on a related subject, Memphis' basketball team is not bad." Winner: Memphis.
(3) Michigan State vs. (14) Valparaiso. By the time the Civil War rolled around, the USS Valparaiso was pretty old, and the Union decided to fill her with rocks and just sort of let her hang out there and get in the Confederacy's way. Then they decided she wasn't good enough for that. Winner: Michigan State.
(7) Creighton vs. (10) Cincinnati. During the Civil War, the USS Cincinnati was sunk twice, and came back from the dead both times. According to Wikipedia there was never a ship called the Creighton, which is weird because that word is just shippy as all get out. Winner: Cincinnati.
(2) Duke vs. (15) Albany. OK OK OK OK OK OK okay okay okay, OK, okay, hold up. We already know that the Confederacy laid down ironclad ships. But the CSS Grand Duke is listed as a cottonclad ship. Like, her hull was protected by bales of cotton, which obviously would catch fire sometimes. Ahahaha holy shit what a horrible boat. Winner: Albany.
(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Southern. I wasn't able to find a ship with either of these names. Winner: nobody.
(8) Pittsburgh vs. (9) Wichita State. The USS Pittsburgh was nicknamed "Longest ship in the world" for a rather terrifying reason: it sailed straight into the middle of a typhoon, which ripped the ship's bow clean off. Winner: Wichita State.
(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Ole Miss. The Wisconsin is the name of a shipwreck site near Kenosha that is apparently frequented by tourists. It seems like the world's worst family outing.
"here's where the Wisconsin sank!"
"what's the Wisconsin"
"i don't see it"
"yeah because it sank"
[sips Capri Sun]
Winner: Ole Miss.
(4) Kansas State vs. (13) La Salle. The USS Manhattan, a Naval tugboat, was sold in 2005 for approximately $150,000. Uh, that's cheaper than a lot of houses. I think I might skip the entire homeowner phase of my life and go straight to "tugboat phase." Winner: Kansas State.
(6) Arizona vs. (11) Belmont. Judging from the Wikipedia article, the Belmont enjoyed the most boring career in the history of the U.S. Navy. "Research ship." Sounds great, Captain Dorkwad. Winner: Arizona.
(3) New Mexico vs. (14) Harvard. The USS Harvard was a yacht. Of course it was a f***in' yacht, man. Winner: New Mexico.
(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Iowa State. During the Civil War, the Union started building the Iowa because it was afraid the British would join the Confederacy and launch an attack. Then the British were like "ehhhhhhhhh" and then so the United States were like "ehhhhhh" and the ship never got built. "Ehhhhhh" could be used three times a page in any history book and said book would be no less accurate. Winner: Notre Dame.
(2) Ohio State vs. (15) Iona. The USS Iona was a wooden ship that was built in 1944, like a hundred years after they started laying down ironclads, and during a war in which basically every ship was made of metal. I'm sure there's some really good reason for this and some war historian/captain's grandkid would be all WELL WHAT YOU FAIL TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT THIS but lol what a shitty boat
Winner: Ohio State.
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Western Kentucky. The closest thing to a USS Western Kentucky is the time a high school friend of mine read a Jack Kerouac book and then decided it would be awesome for him and his brother to try to canoe down the Ohio River. They bought two canoe paddles they found really cheap at a garage sale, but the expedition was scrapped shortly thereafter because Metal Gear Solid 2 came out. Winner: Kansas.
(8) North Carolina vs. (9) Villanova. The USS Villanova, subsequently renamed, was a minesweeper ship in service during World War II. She was transferred for disposal in 1945 after the U.S. Navy gradually shifted to spider solitaire-oriented defense tactics. Winner: North Carolina.
(5) VCU vs. (12) Akron. The USS Akron was a helium airship commissioned by the U.S. Navy in the 1930s, and nearly all of her 76 hands were lost in a devastating storm. This is a joke-free zone: airships are terrifying. Winner: VCU.
(4) Michigan vs. (13) South Dakota State. The USS South Dakota was half-finished when the Navy decided to abandon construction in 1922. "War is dumb," they said, "so we aren't going to build warships anymore." No wars were fought ever again. Winner: Michigan.
(6) UCLA vs. (11) Minnesota. The Navy is currently building the USS Minnesota, a submarine that is scheduled to be commissioned in 2014. Wait, I don't get why we're building-- ahhhh shit. Man we are totally going to war with China in like 20 years aren't we
(3) Florida vs. (14) Northwestern State. The USS Florida was laid down in 1863 and intended to be used against the Confederacy, but Navy heads got cranky over its design and it wasn't completed until the war was over. In 1869 they got cranky about it again and condemned her. Most historical happenings can be explained by one or more parties getting grumpy, cranky, bummed out, and/or totally down in the dumpskis. Winner: Northwestern State.
(7) San Diego State vs. (10) Oklahoma. There was some debate over what exactly happened to the USS San Diego, which sank in 1918. Some believed a German U-boat attacked it, others believe it struck a mine. At any rate, the Navy sent planes to the site as the vessel was sinking and dropped bombs on it. War is the worst f***ing thing and I'm glad we're playing basketball instead. Winner: Oklahoma.
(2) Georgetown vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast. The U.S. Coast Guard patrols the waters of Florida and bravely defends us from the scourge of inbound refugees who plot to find gainful employment and add to the cultural diversity of our country. Sorry, I know your dad was in the Coast Guard. I've met him. He's a cool guy. Winner: Georgetown.
(1) Indiana vs. (16) JMU. The USRC James Madison was built by the U.S. Navy, captured by the British, sold to Ireland, used as a Mediterranean cruise liner, and eventually sold to the King of Naples. Note: it is impossible to ball any harder than to repurpose an ill-gotten American war vessel as your personal Carnival ship. Winner: JMU.
(8) N.C. State vs. (9) Temple. The USS North Carolina, now docked for the benefit of tourists in Wilmington, received 15 World War II battle stars and is basically the Forrest Gump of battleships. Seriously, go see it. It took me a while to reconcile my radical anti-war stance with my appreciation with the sheer majesty of its instruments of death, but I'm really glad I did, because holy God. These ships and planes and guns and tanks are so damn cool. Winner: N.C. State.
(5) UNLV vs. (12) California. The Wikipedia entry for the USS Las Vegas Victory ends with the following, boldface theirs:
As of 25 February 2010, PMARS (Property Management and & Archive Record System) contact administrator advised that the U.S.S. Las Vegas Victory was SOLD FOR SCRAP in 1993 and is NO LONGER berthed at any U.S. Naval Shipyard.
Jeez, sorry! I was just humoring you, I didn't actually give a shit about your stupid boat. I'm just a writer, and I'm doing an NCAA tournament thing, and whatever. Don't shout. Winner: California.
(4) Syracuse vs. (13) Montana. There were four Naval warships named for the state of Montana. One was renamed, one was sunk by a U-boat, and two were half-finished before construction was abandoned. To the entire population of Montana, I would like to say: sorry, dude (singular (your state boasts low population density (joke)))! Winner: Syracuse.
(6) Butler vs. (11) Bucknell. There was a ship named the SS Bucknell Victory, and I was able to find out as much about it as I know about Bucknell basketball. Winner: Bucknell, I guess.
(3) Marquette vs. (14) Davidson. The USS Marquette was deployed right as World War II ended, and spent its entire career as that ship you built in Age of Empires but didn't really need. It sailed through the waters of Greenland, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, which is a real-life auto-explore if I've ever heard of one. Winner: Davidson.
(7) Illinois vs. (10) Colorado. All right so the USS Illinois was around for nearly 60 years and served in a variety of important roles, but c'mon:
On 17 November 1901, Illinois was presented with a silver service dining set provided by the state of Illinois and presented by Senator William E. Mason. It consisted of a large and small punch bowl, two candelabra, an ornamented fruit dish, a small fruit dish, two epicurean dishes, a large centerpiece and a ladle. Each item featured engravings of the crest of Illinois and an ear of corn.
This Wikipedia entry was totally written by the ship's mom. Winner: Colorado.
(2) Miami vs. (15) Pacific. Oh man, I think we saved the best story for last. The USS Miami is an active submarine. Last year, a civilian employee deliberately started a fire on the sub so he could get out of work early. He probably did get out of work early. He also caused $400 million in damages, which very nearly caused the Miami to be scrapped. His name: CASEY FURY. I need you to understand that I am not making this up. Winner: Pacific.