People can debate the identity of William Shakespeare, but the one thing we know for certain is that Will Shakespeare was a huge fan of March Madness and famously admonishes basketball fans to "remember March, the ides of March remember!" Now that the Ides of March is past, we have our basketball Sweet Sixteen, and Shakespeare through his friends at the American Shakespeare Center is weighing in on the Bracket to the Final Four and the 2009 national championship.
In the East the Pitt Panthers are up against the Xavier Muskteers and Shakespeare says of the Muskets that they are "leaden messengers" (All's Well, 3.2) and thinks the game will "rouse the proudest Panther in the chase" (Titus, 2.2).
As to the other game, where the Duke Blue Devils take on the Villanova Wildcats, Shakespeare tells Coach K that in "despite of the Devils and hell," (2 Henry VI, 4.8), there will be "Wildcats in your kitchen" (Othello, 2.1).
In the Midwest, the Louisville Cardinals take on the other Wildcats, and though Shakespeare thinks that out west Arizona is "the king of Cats" (Romeo and Juliet, 3.1), he says quite clearly that in choosing between the two teams he "would the college of Cardinals" (Henry VIII, 3.2).
In the second game, the Michigan State Spartans battle the Kansas Jayhawks, and in this one Shakespeare says his favorites are "bred out of the Spartan kind" (Dream, 4.1) and are "of more delight than Hawks" (Sonnets: XCI).
The Oklahoma Sooners meet the Syracuse Orange, and despite Syracuse's valiant six-overtime win against Connecticut, Shakespeare is emphatic: "Give not this rotten Orange to your friends," (Much Ado, 4.1) and urges bracketeers to choose Oklahoma with this advice: "Sooner, Sweet, for you." (Othello, 3.2).
In game two between the North Carolina Tarheels and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Will has no patience with the underdogs from the Northwest - "Down, down, dogs!" (1 Henry IV, 2.4) - and that for those of us who love the ACC "our grace is only in the Heels" (Henry V, 3.2).
In the West, the Connecticut Huskies go against the Purdue Boilermakers, and here Shakespeare gets downright nasty in with Purdue - "You shames! you herd of Boils" (Coriolanus, 1.4) - and predicts that "what's to come is strew'd with Husks" (Troilus and Cressida, 4.4).
In the second game, where the Memphis Tiger plays the Missouri Tigers, Shakespeare predicts unhelpfully that "Tigers must prey" (Titus Andronicus, 3.1), but tells us later that Memphis will "triumph upon my Missouri" (Taming of the Shrew, 4.3).
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