Yes THE FINAL FOUR, but most people have stopped giving a shit--our brackets are shot, our Dunk Cities have gone the way of the Baltimore Port System, and our tolerance for Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley has most definitely reached a breaking point.
That said, there is another Final Four on the horizon. One that’s not just applicable to a handful of schools such as “Obnoxious hordes of people who wear Orange and pretend to be 'hard' despite coming from mostly upper-middle class backgrounds,” or “Too many people from the Northeast, who are compromising the image of this school.” I am of course, talking about the Final Four of drunk food.
It’s been a long #grind, but these foods have done what they needed to do to survive and advance into the demanding mouths of college kids and young adults nationwide. Presenting, the contenders:
How They Got Here: Out of the “Fast Food Region,” they went relatively unchallenged until the Elite 8, where they managed to fend off a feisty Taco Bell squad led by POY Candidate Doritos Locos Tacos. DLT put up a remarkable 43 points (34 in the second half...that kick is legendary), though as always, the formidable frontcourt combo of McChicken and McDouble proved to be too much to handle.
Biggest Strength: Depth. Their range of scoring options is virtually limitless. Even Filet-O-Fish, who’s logged only 20 minutes all season, would likely be an effective starter on most other squads.
Biggest Weakness: Communication. As we’ve seen far too many times this season, drunk ordering at the drive-thru has caused some HUGE problems for this team.
(3) Dirty Water Hot Dogs
How They Got Here: Winners of the “Street Food” region, this is probably the most surprising team of the bunch. Most people were expecting Gyros, Falafel, and Kebabs to emerge, but Chicken and Rice really just knew how to play them--Gyro really couldn’t get anything going against the C & R's trademark "White Sauce" defense.
Biggest Strength: Quick Scoring. Their ability to quickly put up huge numbers goes arguably unmatched. A fifteen hot-dog deficit is virtually nothing when in a heated drunk battle.
Biggest Weakness: Style of Play. This is a city team, and we’ve seen them struggle tremendously against the more rural squads. Certain matchups could prove to be a nightmare, especially if McDonalds goes for the bearded guy in a truck wearing a hat offense.
(1) Pizza With Ranch
How They Got Here: Despite getting arguably the toughest draw of them all, (that pizza region was stacked) they’re certainly playing like the National Title Favorite and number one overall seed. Wins over incredibly talented squads like Dominos, Bagel Bites, and a tough matchup against That Pizza Hut Box were certainly huge tests. And they made all of them look easy. As well as really fucking cheesy.
Biggest Strength: Balance. Great carbs, gooey cheese, and the four-time All-American who seems to be getting better with every bite, ranch dressing. Most experts agree they’ve perfected the formula for the ultimate drunk food.
Biggest Weakness: Expectations. They know who they are, and they know what’s expected of them. A lot is one the line. They could easily burn themselves under pressure.
How They Got Here: That incredible comeback win over “random shit in your fridge” was one of the more exciting tourney games in a long time. Gotta think Pad Thai will have nightmares over that last-second rim-out for years. A crushed peanut more, and it'd probably be them we'd be talking about.
Biggest Strength: Versatility. The only team left standing that could be equally enjoyed cold.
Biggest Weakness: Consistency. Chipotle’s lackluster late-night hours have proven to be a killer for this squad all season. If they don’t purchase that burrito early enough in the evening, they’ve got no chance. This is a team that NEEDS to get off to a good start.
(1) McDonald's vs. (3) Dirty Water Hot Dogs
You can never count dirty water hot dogs out of any game, but it’s tough to see relish holding its own against 20 piece McNuggets, or mustard and bun hanging tough with Big Mac and Fries. Coach "Ethnic Guy with an accent who you spend two minutes wondering about where he lives and what he does in his free time" will definitely be overwhelmed here. Particularly with Coach "Indifferent High School Kid who smokes weed during shift break"’s remarkable flair for in-game adjustments. Don’t expect this one to be close.
Prediction: McDonald's by a landslide. Wouldn’t be surprised if Apple Pie even got some minutes.
(2) Burritos vs. (1) Pizza with Ranch
Burritos definitely have the craving intangible on their side...if that becomes a factor, Pizza with Ranch will certainly have their hands full. But being two slices instead of one has always put pizza with ranch over the edge, and that should be enough to get them the “W” here.
Prediction: Pizza with Ranch. Won’t be a blowout, but shouldn’t be eat the crust close.
(1) McDonald's vs. (1) Pizza with Ranch
The matchup everyone wants to see, and would arguably be a bigger deal than Bird vs. Magic back in '79. The two best teams in the land--their execution of trademark qualities like smell, line management, and overall customer passion go arguably unmatched. McDonald's certainly has more weapons (even their 10th guy on the bench, the Southern Style Crispy Chicken sandwich, is a dangerous, dangerous player), though Pizza with Ranch's role players are certainly solid as well--parmesan cheese most notably, but red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and oregano have all really held their own in limited action this year.
The key here, will be ranch. If ranch tries to do to much, like Carmelo on the Knicks, he'll end up stagnating the offense, and the ginourmous mountains of ranch will make the rest of the pizza much less effective. But if it plays within itself, even the mighty McDonald's may not be able to beat the goodness. Whatever the result, this should be a classic...and the game will likely be decided by no more than one happy meal.
Prediction: Pizza with Ranch. The difference will be the coaching. The McDonald's coach is great, but he can sometimes fold under the pressure of receiving a text. The Pizza guy is much friendlier. And he delivers.
Awesome pizza pic via shutterstock
burrito pic via shutterstock