On Sunday, those of us from the Big East District gathered in the center of town as we prepared for the annual naming of "tributes" from each district in the nation known as NCAAnem. As you know, each district is asked to send a various number of tributes into a tournament known as The Hunger Games, where every tribute must fight one another until only one remains, all for the glory of NCAAnem.
On this particular day, nine names were called. Three of them, the Syracuse Orange, Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers, were sent to the East Region of The 73rd Annual Hunger Games. They and thirteen other teams will fight for the right to represent East Region.
The participants have spent the last week training and preparing for the carnage ahead of them. NCAAnem revealed that the location for this year's Hunger Games would be the desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland known as "Pittsburgh," only adding to the intrigue.
As we prepare for the 73rd Annual Hunger Games to begin, let's take a look at the participants to see who has a chance of surviving and whose face we'll see in the sky at the end of the day one.
May the opening tip be ever in your favor.
slightly-spoilerish if you read closely enough...
16. UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (District 9 Male) - Likely to make mistake of going for same set of supplies as Syracuse in dash to the Cornucopia. Not nearly a match for the Orange, they'll try to reach for the same weapons, leaving themselves vulnerable to the attack that was always destined to kill them quickly.
15. Loyola, Md. Greyhounds (District 9 Female) - Likely to die in a bloodbath on day one.
14. St. Bonaventure Bonnies - (Rue) - Syracuse sees so much of themselves in the Bonnies. They excel at leaping with relative ease. Good snugglers. Don't seem to pose a real threat according to the predictions and yet, there's something about them that just cries out for protection. Syracuse will try to help for as long as it can.
13. Montana Grizzlies (District 5 Male) - Likely to die in a bloodbath on day one.
12. Harvard Crimson (Foxface) - Relies on smarts and cunning to survive. Not likely to try and kill anyone, will simply attempt to evade and survive for as long as they can.
11. Texas Longhorns (Marvel) - We don't know too much about them other than not much is expected. However, they might just sneak up on one competitor and show their true nature when we least expect it. If we need to, can probably be dispatched quickly.
10. West Virginia Mountaineers (Peeta Mallark) - Drawn together by a shared district, they're an uneasy ally for Syracuse to take on. They have history with Syracuse and not all of it is good, hard to know what to make of their chances in the Games. They don't bring any innate weapons or hunting skills with them (oddly, given where they're from) and yet there's something about them that might just come in handy. Hopefully someone else kills them first so Syracuse have to.
9. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (District 4 Male) - Likely to die in a bloodbath on day one.
8. Kansas St. Wildcats (Clove) - Arrogant, strong, and features many weapons. Rarely known to miss their target. Has a special hatred of Syracuse because of their high seed and proximity.
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (District 8 Female) - Might survive the initial bloodbath but too naive to last past a couple days in this harsh environment.
6. Cincinnati Bearcats (District 4 Female) - Can survive a day or two, but likely easy enough to dispatch with a few tricks.
5. Vanderbilt Commodores (Glimmer) - This tribute has what it takes to take down one of the favorites, they've been training for this all season. Still, they have enough flaws and lack of awareness that they're extremely vulnerable to attacks from above.
4. Wisconsin Badgers (District 3 Male) - A whiz at slowing opponents down thanks to setting "mines" as a form of defense, they're likely to be survive a while. However a lack of a true offensive power means they're unlikely to last too long.
3. Florida St. Seminoles (Thresh) - A physical wonder, Florida State has put together an impressive run under the radar. Received high marks before the tournament, almost as much as Ohio State. No one wants to go into the tall grass after them. If anyone is going to take out the Buckeyes before a showdown with Syracuse, it's them.
2. Ohio St. Buckeyes (Cato) - The one Syracuse considers its most fearsome opponent because of his size and strength, skill with many weapons, and savage pleasure in killing. Ohio State has complete confidence in its abilities and expects that he will be the victor, as do many pundits. Not likely to die without a fight.
1. Syracuse Orange (Katniss Everdeen) - On paper, Syracuse has all the tools capable of winning the Hunger Games. Skilled at hunting and tracking, worked way up from humble beginnings and has a lot to play for. But in practice, no one gives them a chance. Sure, they looked great during training but what chance do they really have in the arena against Careers like Ohio State? Mentor Jim Boeheim (Haymitch) can only help so far. With so much to fight for, so much to overcome and no one believing in them, they truly are "the team on fire."