Two weeks ago, when we tipped off the 2011 Musical March Madness tournament, sixty-four bands entered the fray with championship dreams on their minds. For 32 of those bands, that dream died after one round. And for half of the remaining 32, the dream is over today.
Because we've reached the Sweet 16, the midway point on the quest for the 2011 MMM title. And while the bands still left standing would no doubt like a moment to recover from their epic battles, as any tournament vet will tell you, there's no rest for the weary. From here on out, the challenges only get tougher, and the cost of defeat is high: To come so close and leave empty-handed would be a heartbreaker, indeed.
So just who will be left in the competition? Well, our Sweet 16 is certainly packed with some prohibitive favorites — #1 seeds 30 Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park, #2s Blink-182 and Muse, tournament-tested vets like Panic! at the Disco and Tokio Hotel, not to mention last year's champ, Coheed and Cambria — but there are also a host of underdogs still in the mix (#9 Disturbed, #16 Sum 41), and if they've survived this long, you'd be foolish to count them out now.
Voting in the Sweet 16 will continue until Tuesday at midnight, and then it's on to the Elite 8 (we weren't kidding about that "no rest for the weary" thing). So while you consider your votes, here's a look at the matchups.
There were upsets galore in the Midwest — #12 Patrick Stump edged #4 Rise Against, #7 Avenged Sevenfold knocked off #2 the Black Keys — though perhaps none was as huge as Disturbed's eye-opening victory over #1 the Foo Fighters, which served notice to the rest of the field that David Draiman and Co. were legitimate MMM threats. They draw Stump in the Sweet 16 and, at this point, an Elite 8 spot is a definite possibility. In the other matchup, Avenged face a tough challenge in defending champs Coheed and Cambria, who steamrolled Vampire Weekend in their second-round tilt and may very well be the team to beat in this year's tourney.
#9 Disturbed vs. #12 Patrick Stump
#6 Coheed and Cambria vs. #7 Avenged Sevenfold
Top-seeded 30 Seconds to Mars continue to live up to their billing, as they handled #8 Pearl Jam to earn a berth in the Sweet 16. The same can be said about #5 Panic! at the Disco, who got by #4 Florence and the Machine ... unfortunately, the two bands go head-to-head with a spot in the Elite 8 on the line. There may be no bigger matchup in the tournament to date. In the bottom half of the bracket, #3 Green Day fell behind early to #6 U2, but staged a late comeback to advance, and Blink-182 rallied the troops to knock off #7 the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And if Green Day versus Blink is the undercard, well, then you know the West was a brutal region indeed.
#1 30 Seconds to Mars vs. #5 Panic! at the Disco
#3 Green Day vs. #2 Blink-182
In a region that, to date, has produced more blow-out victories than any other in the 2011 MMM tournament, it's fitting that the four bands left standing were the ones who did all of the blowing out. #1 Linkin Park ripped #8 R.E.M. in the second round, #5 Paramore surged past #4 Kings of Leon, #14 Tokio Hotel breezed by #11 Adele and #2 Muse easily handled #7 Weezer. Will any of the South's Sweet 16 matchups be close? We're willing to bet that this time out, they'll buck the region's trends. We could be in for a pair of thrillers.
#1 Linkin Park vs. #5 Paramore
#14 Tokio Hotel vs. #2 Muse
At this point, is there anyone who can stop Sum 41? The 16th-seeded Canadian quartet continued their VCU-like run through the MMM tourney, scoring their second-straight upset victory when they sent #8 Coldplay packing in round two. In the Sweet 16, they'll face off against #4 the Strokes, who handled #5 Phoenix with relative ease in the second round ... and, frankly, we like Sum's chances (even if Deryck Whibley doesn't). In the bottom half of the bracket, #3 My Chemical Romance — who took down #11 Rage Against Machine in round two — and #2 Radiohead, who ripped #7 Owl City, square off in a matchup that's the very definition of a style clash.
#16 Sum 41 vs. #4 the Strokes
#3 My Chemical Romance vs. #2 Radiohead
MTV's Musical March Madness has reached the Sweet 16! Voting is now open and will continue until Tuesday at midnight, when we'll roll on to the Elite 8. All winners are determined by your votes, so, if your favorite act is still standing, it's up to you to guide them to glory. You can rally the troops on Twitter using the hashtag #MMM — but get ready, things only get tougher from here on out!