We've reached the Elite 8 of MTV's Musical March Madness tournament, and it's a fitting title, indeed. Because the eight bands left standing in the tournament are most certainly elite, each having survived increasingly tough challenges to stand on the precipice of championship glory.
And nowhere was that more apparent than in the MMM's Sweet 16, which saw not only a historic number of votes being cast by fans, but more nail-bitingly close contests than we can ever remember: Fifth-seeded Paramore came from way back to nip #1 Linkin Park; #5 Panic! at the Disco edged heavily-favored (and top-seeded) 30 Seconds to Mars; and, in perhaps the most remarkable matchup in MMM history, defending champs Coheed and Cambria snuck by #7 Avenged Sevenfold thanks to a last-second surge in votes ... our first-ever buzzer beater!
It was, to say the least, a remarkable round ... and we expect nothing less in the Elite 8: One of these bands will hoist the MMM championship trophy next week, and you can help them do it. But you've got to hurry — Elite 8 voting is now open on the Newsroom blog, and will continue until Thursday at midnight ET.
We'll reveal our Final Four on Friday ... but before we get there, let's take a look at our Elite 8 matchups!
In one of the few drama-free Sweet 16 contests, #9 Disturbed handled #12 Patrick Stump with relative ease, moving David Draiman and Co. on to the Elite 8. The undercard — the now-legendary Coheed/A7X tussle — was anything but: Upset-minded Avenged took an early lead, stretched it to more than 4,000 votes, and then, with victory in sight, got complacent. That allowed Coheed (and their fans) to sneak back into things, slowly closing the gap and, finally, with less than 10 minutes to go in voting, overtaking A7X for good. In the end, in a contest that saw some 60,000 votes cast, Coheed won by less than 300 ... a remarkable contest, and more proof that you should never underestimate the heart of a champion. And thanks to those last-second heroics, our Midwest final is now set:
#9 Disturbed vs. #6 Coheed and Cambria
We knew heading into the Sweet 16 that the 30 Seconds to Mars/ Panic! at the Disco battle was going to be epic, but even we had no idea just how huge it would end up becoming. Top-seeded 30 STM cruised to an early lead, but then, thanks to some pretty heavy campaigning, #5 Panic! slowly started to chip away, and with less than two hours left in voting, they overtook Leto and his boys for good, winning by nearly 5,000 votes. In the undercard, what was expected to be a barnburner ended up being nothing more than a laugher, as #3 Green Day blasted #2 Blink-182 — despite Mark Hoppus's efforts to rally the troops. And so, our East final is set:
#5 Panic! at the Disco vs. #3 Green Day
A pair of hotly contested Sweet 16 matchups here, as #5 Paramore came roaring back against #1 Linkin Park (behold, the power of Facebook!), erasing a 3,000-vote deficit in the round's final hours and ultimately coasting to a 2,000-vote win — a pretty slight edge in a contest that saw more than 150,000 votes cast. In the region's other battle, the unstoppable Tokio Hotel rolled on, besting a surprisingly game #2 Muse — TH's 3,000-vote victory is by far their lowest margin to date. And so, we head to the South final, with a matchup that's sure to deliver on every level:
#5 Paramore vs. #14 Tokio Hotel
Sum 41 continue their VCU-like run through the tournament, as they pasted the fourth-seeded Strokes in the Sweet 16. But, like their NCAA counterparts, can Deryck Whibley and Co. advance to the Final Four? Standing in their way are last year's MMM runners-up, #3 My Chemical Romance, who handled #2 Radiohead with ease. At this point, they could be the sneaky favorites to win the whole thing. But first, they've got to get past MMM's Cinderellas, in what is perhaps the most unlikely East final of all time:
#16 Sum 14 vs. #3 My Chemical Romance
MTV's Musical March Madness has reached the Elite 8! Voting is now open and will continue until Thursday at midnight, when we'll roll on to the Final Four. 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!