(1) Paris vs. (12) Isle of Skye, Scotland
Yesterday strange legal twists have the entire tournament community up in arms. Final Four qualifiers Nepal, Easter Island and Wyoming have already sent out their scouting teams to prepare for newcomers Isle of Skye should they qualify for the Finals. Regional number one seed Paris is not about to let that happen. Although the French have been known to lie down in the past (see World War I, World War II, most notably), Paris’ defensive strategy is hardly the Maginot Line. Stacking up the Eiffel Tower under the basket, Paris is hoping for divine intervention as it starts 4 churches: Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur, Sainte Chapelle, and l'Eglise du Dome. The religious angle seems to confuse the Isle of Skye, as they had anticipated an all museum offense. At half, Paris’ run and gun church offense has the Isle of Skye on the ropes. To make matters worse for the Scots, the French line up the museum card to start the 2nd half. The Louvre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Les Invalides, Musée d'Orsay, the Picasso Museum continue the thwarting of the Isle of Skye. The French are most or less toying with the Scots, as they have benched the Arc de Triomphe (for staying out past curfew the night before). Playing coach Chateau de Versailles (placed on the team after Round 1 by the The Hague’s court injuction) subs itself into the game at random intervals, but prefers sitting on the sidelines, dining on wine and cheese. At the end of the game, the two teams get drunk reminiscing over their shared history of hatred and animosity with the English over the years. The most visited tourist destination in the world – Paris – will indeed make an appearance in the Regional Final.
(10) Trans-Siberian Express vs. (3) Rome
Rome, seat of the greatest empire the world has ever seen, has been defeated this evening, but a lowly mode of transportation. The difference in the game proved to be turnovers, as the Romans could simply not avoid giving it up to the Russians. With no identifiable star players, it was a complete team effort by the Russians. Caboose after caboose was sent out onto the court and simply out-hustled the Italians. Rome, not to be outdone, vowed vengeance and a return to its former glory. Of course, if Mussolini couldn’t figure out how to lead his country in the 20th Century, there is not much hope for Rome in the 21st Century. The city simply proved to be too old-school and too old; although the Russian train journey is nearly 100 years old, the Roman are over 2000 years old. Russian head of tourism had this to say “Those old empirical geezers are stuck in the past, no one wants to drink aqueduct water anymore. Even we have bottled water on our communist trains.” Although it was seen as a bit of a shock that the train system should usurp Rome in their journey to the Final Four, insiders pointed to the shear beauty of the Russian countryside (outside of the villagers themselves that is) and the fact that the Trans-Siberian is by far the most involved of the 65 participants in the tournament, requiring over 2 weeks to simply travel along its length. If a train leaves Moscow at one o’clock traveling at 60 km/h and another train leaves Vladivostok at 6 o’clock traveling at 75 km/h, when will the train meets up? I’m not sure, but whichever is the case, they better makes sure they bring their A game for the Regional Finals!