2751: March Madness

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March Madness
My bracket has 76 trombones led by John Philip Sousa facing off against thousands of emperor penguins led by Morgan Freeman.
Title text: My bracket has 76 trombones led by John Philip Sousa facing off against thousands of emperor penguins led by Morgan Freeman.


Randall has created yet another single-elimination tournament bracket. This time, everything in the bracket relates to the word March.

Upper Left: This section has things that are named after March.

  • March Madness is the (trademarked!) colloquial name given to the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, the season-culminating college basketball tournament played each spring in the US. It's common for college basketball fans—and even people who pay no attention to the sport for 11 months of the year—to make guesses as to how the tournament will play out by filling out brackets similar to the one shown here. They often compete against each other to see who in a group has the most accurate predictions.
  • Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by the English author George Eliot, based around the eponymous (but fictional) central English town. The name was a rather tongue-in-cheek constructed British placename, given that a -march is associated with borderlands (such as the Welsh and Scottish Marches) and yet depicted as being set in the rather unremarkable heartlands of the middle-England of the age.
    • Or, more simply, it could just refer to the middle of the month of March, when March Madness takes place, as well as the Ides (see below), in a way that is rather self-referential for this particular branch of the bracket.

Lower Left:

  • All entries in this quadrant refer to the song "Seventy-Six Trombones" from the 1957 musical The Music Man. The song describes an imagined parade, particularly the large marching band leading it. ("March" can be a synonym for "parade", in this context.) The opening line of that song states that "76 trombones led the big parade, with 110 cornets close behind." The song also includes the lyrics "there were more than a thousand reeds springing up like weeds" and "there were fifty mounted cannon in the battery".

Upper Right: All entries in this section have the words "march of" in their full names.

  • March of Dimes is a charity program advocating for mothers and babies.

Lower Right: All entries in this section end with the word "march".

  • "The Imperial March" is a theme from Star Wars which often plays when characters from the Empire, particularly large batches of storm troopers, are on screen.

In the title text, Randall claims his bracket has 76 trombones being led by John Philip Sousa (a famous bandleader and composer who also wrote the national march of the United States; the lead character in The Music Man claims that he led the supposed parade) against the March of the Penguins, led by Morgan Freeman (who narrated the English release of the film).


[A tournament bracket with 16 entries, divided in four quadrants, two to the left and two to the right, is shown. The 16 are paired in 8 matches, which then pair in four new matches, which further pair in two. And then those two meet in the center where there is an empty rectangle for the winner. Above the bracket there is a title:]
March Madness
[Upper left quadrant:]
[Lower left quadrant:]
76 Trombones
110 Cornets
1000+ Reeds
50 Mounted Cannon
[Upper right quadrant:]
Toy Soldiers
[Lower right quadrant:]

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An hour, and still no explanation. Is this harder to get than usual, or is it just me?

Left top two are march [word], next two are [word] of march, bottom left section all reference Seventy-Six Trombones, which is apparently a common song for marching bands. Top right section is March of the [word], and bottom right is [word] March. NyanSequitur (talk) 19:15, 17 March 2023 (UTC)

Well I was going to say something, but now I find myself doubting my ability to find patterns and understand references. This man is on another level. Toriski3037 (talk) 19:29, 17 March 2023 (UTC)

Not confident enough to edit the actual article directly, but I can get the gist of these references:

- March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament)
- March Hare ("Mad as a march hare" being a common idiom in English, and the March Hare being a 'mad' character in Alice in Wonderland)
- Middlemarch (novel by George Eliot)
- Ides of March (March 15th, aka Julius Caesar Assassination Day)
- aforementioned "Seventy-Six Trombones" references - the first three lines, followed by an impressive option later in the lyrics
- "Seventy-six trombones led the big parade"
- "with a hundred and ten cornets right behind"
- "there were more than a thousand reeds springing up like weeds"
- "there were fifty mounted cannon in the battery/ thundering, thundering, louder than before"
- (possibly worth noting: the first version of the song ends with "the kids began to march/ and they're marching still, right today!" - it was a pain to confirm this, since the reprise of the song is much easier to find)
- (also worth noting for the title text: the song is introduced with the character claiming that the 76 trombone parade was from the day when several historical notables, culminating in "John Philip Sousa", "all came to town on the very same historic day")
- March of the Dimes (charity)
- March of the Toy Soldiers (musical piece from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker)
- March of the Ents (from Lord of the Rings)
- March of the Penguins (documentary about emperor penguins, narrated by Morgan Freeman, also relevant to title text)
- Wedding March (musical piece - per Wikipedia, the "here comes the bride" piece which I thought of is actually the "Bridal Chorus" from Wagner's Lohengrin; the most famous Wedding March is from Felix Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, used more commonly at the end of weddings)
- Funeral March (musical piece - most famous version is Chopin's)
- Imperial March (musical piece by John Williams for Star Wars)
- Nissan March (model of car; Nissan is also the official sponsor of March Madness)

Hopefully this will help someone look up properly cited references! 19:53, 17 March 2023 (UTC)

nice work! Iggynelix (talk) 12:51, 18 March 2023 (UTC)

I hope the previous contributor doesn't mind that I tidied up their layout. I hope the ExplainXKCD Police don't object to the way I did that. :) 00:46, 18 March 2023 (UTC)

March is not another word for parade. 01:27, 18 March 2023 (UTC)

It can be. I wouldn't call a Mardi Gras parade a march, but I would do an Orange Order one, for example. And the defining characteristic of a "band parade", above even a mishmash of men just shuffling along the road in a group, is (generally!) walking in lockstep (keeping the music in lockstep), so that (frivolity and syncopation aside) it is as much a march as anything. I mean, I'm not the OA of that phrase linking the sense, but there's clear overlap that cannot be denied as intended. 09:59, 18 March 2023 (UTC)

For the second bracket in the top left quadrant, "Ides" refers to "Ides of March", which implies the structure used here is "___ of March", which means that the reference would rather be "Middle of March" (rather than Middlemarch), which is used in crossword puzzle as a clue for the word "arc". 12:23, 18 March 2023 (UTC)

Since the "Ides of March" and "Middle of March" are almost the same, this bracket will settle that question. I do not see any relationship between "Ides of March" and the novel "Middlemarch." Therefore, I agree with "Middle of March" over "Middlemarch" for the explanation. TCMits (talk) 14:46, 18 March 2023 (UTC)
Why does there need to be any kind of relationship between Ides (Of) March and Middlemarch, other than the "March" bit? And "Middle Of March" is weirdly generic/obscure for a humourous reference, anyway. If you ask me, Randall just missed a trick to put "Ides Of" in that spot, for the sake of pedants. Or deliberately didn't as a pedant-snipe, perhaps. I'll live with Middlemarch as a good enough basis for what is written, because it's perfectly in keeping with other bracket-oddities we've seen. IMHO, HTH, HAND, TTFN. 15:55, 18 March 2023 (UTC)
"Middle of March" is not a specific thing, and there's no reason to think the bracket would be aiming to "settle the question" between two things that are "almost the same" in exactly one pairing. This is clearly a reference to Middlemarch. 15:36, 23 March 2023 (UTC)

The note about the (effective) oxymoronicity of "Middlemarch" is nice to see, but note that the Midlands (more or less) reflect the ancient kingdom of Mercia (a "march"/borderland, in its own time, where the heptarchy of the Anglo-Saxons butted up against those they) and the rather middling-midlands location would be considered a 'modern' instance of mid-Mercia. We have a lot of such legacy placenames. (Though I think I prefer Torpenhow (which is "Hillhillhill"), Pendle Hill (likewise), etc...) 23:19, 19 March 2023 (UTC)