After two rounds of upsets and upheaval, MTV's Musical March Madness has finally reached the Sweet 16, where things really start to get interesting.
Because at this point in the tournament, only the strong remain: Our last two champions are both still alive, as are the last two runners-up. There are the perennial powerhouses still looking for that elusive MMM title, and a few hard-to-kill underdogs, too, each hoping to shock the world.
And with matchups that include Evanescence vs. Linkin Park, Paramore vs. 30 Seconds to Mars and Green Day vs. James Durbin, this year's Sweet 16 is shaping up to be one for the ages. And if your favorite band is still alive, you can help them move one step closer to the MMM title by voting now.
But you've got to hurry; voting in all Sweet 16 matchups closes Tuesday, March 27, at midnight ET, and on Wednesday, the tournament moves to the Elite 8.
And since time is short, we're gonna cut right to the chase ... here's a look at all the Sweet 16 matchups in MMM 2012.
It's #5 My Chemical Romance versus #16 AWOLNATION in the top half of the bracket, and we'd say this one should be a cakewalk for the mighty MCR ... except, just to reach the Sweet 16, AWOL has already fought their way past #1 the Black Keys and the tournament-tested Rise Against!, which means they'll probably be a tougher test than most imagine. Still, though they might face a struggle, it's difficult to not see MCR moving on here.
The same can't be said about the matchup in the bottom half of the region, however, as #7 Metallica squares off against #14 Five Finger Death Punch, in a hard-hitting, heavy-riffing battle that truly is impossible to predict. Metallica disposed of Guns N' Roses in the opening round, then rallied to overtake Sum 41 in round two. (thanks, John Cena!) Meanwhile, Five Finger blew out #3 Pearl Jam in the first round, and then withstood a late charge from #11 Chevelle to secure their spot in the Sweet 16. Who comes out on top here? In a pinch, we'll take Metallica, though this one seems destined to come right down to the wire.
Defending MMM champs Green Day draw #16 James Durbin in the top half of the bracket, and, much like the MCR/AWOL matchup, on the surface, this one looks like it'll be Green Day in a rout. But at this point, Durbin has dumped #1 Foo Fighters and #8 Best Coast, both by huge margins. Can he dethrone the champions and advance to the Elite 8? You know what? We're going to say yes. Consider yourselves on upset alert, Green Day.
In the bottom of the West bracket, it's #11 Adam Lambert versus #15 Panic! at the Disco, in a matchup that pits two of MMM's most fervent fanbases against each other. Both acts have been through the March Madness wringer before, but neither has been able to make it over that final hump. Could this be the year one of them raises the big gold trophy? Perhaps. This is another contest that's going to be too close to call.
The march toward the inevitable Tokio Hotel/Coheed and Cambria showdown continues, as both draw lower-seeded opponents in the Sweet 16. In Tokio's case, they get the underdogs to end all underdogs, Toronto wailers F---ed Up, who have shocked everybody by taking down Mumford & Sons and Radiohead during their dream run to the Sweet 16. Sadly, we're pretty sure that run ends here, as Tokio have been flexing their MMM muscles throughout the tourney, and may very well be the team to beat in 2012.
Then again, they'll have to get through 2010 champs Coheed and Cambria, who draw #11 Semi-Precious Weapons in their Sweet 16 matchup. And though SPW have battled past Fun. And Florence and the Machine just to make it this far, they've yet to go up against a fanbase like Coheed and Cambria's Children of the Fence ... and, well, let's just say we're already looking forward to Wednesday's Tokio/Coheed Elite 8 battle. It's sure to be epic.
We've saved the best for last. Because things are about to get hot down in the South, with a pair of heavyweight Sweet 16 matchups that are sure to be barn-burners. In the top half of the bracket, it's lone-remaining #1, Evanescence, taking on tournament-tested #5 Linkin Park. Amy Lee and company have yet to really be challenged in MMM 2012, pasting #16 Alabama Shakes and #9 Dave Matthews Band. Meanwhile, Shinoda, Bennington and the guys have had to fight every step of the way, holding off a late-charge from #12 At the Drive In and another huge rally from #4 Jack White just to advance. Something's gotta give here ... and, in a pinch, we're taking Evanescence. Though, again, it's gonna be close.
Down in the bottom half of the bracket, it's #2 Paramore against #6 30 Seconds to Mars, and to anyone who's followed the tournament over the years, well, you know that this is basically the Duke/North Carolina of MMM. Both bands have come close to winning it all (Paramore were edged out in last year's championship game), and both are supported by huge fan armies, so, yeah, this one is serious. We've honestly got no idea how it plays out, so instead, we're just gonna sit back and enjoy this one.
Is your favorite band still alive in the Sweet 16? Do you want to avenge an early exit? Well, get voting ... polls in the Sweet 16 close Tuesday at midnight ET, and then we'll head on to the Elite 8! The MMM title is within reach, and you can determine who'll grab it.
MTV's 2012 Musical March Madness tournament has reached the Sweet 16! Voting runs until midnight ET on Tuesday, March 27, and winners are determined by fan votes, so if your favorite act is still alive, it'll be up to you to guide them to glory. You can rally the troops on Twitter using the hashtag #MMM or by downloading one of our custom badges — but get ready, it only gets more difficult from here on out.