Simply put, Dick Vitale is the face of college basketball, but after going up against dolphins, a longhorn and Punxsutawney Phil in recent seasons, the affable sports commentator needed a real challenge. So Vitale, ESPN college basketball analyst and one of the sport’s most recognizable icons, is putting his NCAA® bracket picking skills to the ultimate test going head-to-head against Buzz Aldrin, former astronaut and the second man to walk on the moon, as part of the Allstate March Mayhem™ Challenge that was announced on March 15, 2016 at Aldrin’s home arena, the Space Center in Houston.
“This time I am going against a superstar, an American legend in Buzz Aldrin,” Vitale said in a an exclusive interview. “Allstate has brought in a guy with a doctorate in aeronautical engineering, and I ‘m just a kid from Jersey having fun with what I do.”
This is not the first time Allstate Insurance Company, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, has challenged Vitale to put his college basketball expertise to the test against an improbable opponent. The broadcasting legend remains undefeated against a variety of animal prognosticators. With Vitale’s winning streak on the line, the mission is clear for Aldrin – correctly predict the winners and beat Dickie V at his own game once and for all.
While Aldrin has the educational credentials in his favor, Vitale has decades worth of knowledge filed away covering the sport he loves. “I am incredibly fortunate. I have been given a microphone and the opportunity to talk about the game I love. There is no greater three weeks in the world of sports than the NCAA Basketball Tournament that starts tonight. None,” Vitale said with a passion that only Dickie V can exude.
Every year, millions of people around the world fill out tournament brackets whether they deem themselves “experts” or pick winners based on team mascots. While Vitale will rely on inside information gleaned from watching hundreds of games this season, Aldrin’s strategy will rely on a more fact based approach, including looking at patterns that have emerged throughout tournament history and analyzing different match-ups using the Mayhem Bracket Predictor. He may not know a lot about college basketball, but his space travel background has made him an expert at identifying the best resources for predicting the unpredictable.
As for his longevity, Vitale thinks the formula remains simple. “I think the average fan can relate to what I am about. I really feel I am one of them.” But the former head coach at the University of Detroit continues to underestimate himself. While Vitale may feel he is just like everyone else, it remains clear that college basketball fans really look up to the “gym rat from Jersey.”
Unlike the real March Madness on the basketball court, however, March Mayhem will have no loser. No matter which expert reigns supreme this March, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, Allstate will make a donation to the Space Center Houston and the V Foundation for cancer research on behalf of each competitor.
Let the games begin