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A Short Art History Guide to March Madness 2016

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It’s March Madness and while many fans obsess over their carefully-designed brackets, a select few of us remain surprisingly uninterested. 

If you belong in the last category, yet you find yourself being involuntarily surrounded by the college basketball festivities, we may have just what you need to help get you in the mood.

With Sartle’s short guide to March Madness, you will not only learn about the most notorious teams of the tournament, but you’ll be doing it art history style. 

The only kind of dunking we partake in.  

Kansas Jayhawks— Michelangelo’s David

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David by Michelangelo at the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence

Kansas is the team that’s most heavily-favored to win. They have a famous coach and experienced players that have been playing together for a long time. 

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Like Michelangelo’s David, Kansas has surely demonstrated expertise in their field, but because they make such fine skill look so easy, they’re just not that interesting anymore.

Duke Blue Devils— anything Jeff Koons

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Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank by Jeff Koons at the Tate Britain

Like the artist who heavily advertises himself and likes to talk about himself in the third person, the Blue Devils are extremely easy to dislike. The fact that they’re actually good at what they do makes things even more annoying. 

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Unfortunately, no matter how eccentric Koons’s pieces get or how many games the Blue Devils win, there’s just no getting past all the douchebaggery that is so essential to their identities. 


Kentucky Wildcats— Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans

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Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol at the Museum of Modern Art


Just like Warhol’s obsession with mass-production, Kentucky prides itself in continuously churning out NBA-worthy players. With their old players constantly leaving for the NBA, their new recruits always help them maintain their contemporary edge.

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Unfortunately, their loss to Indiana this past weekend probably destroyed many hearts— and brackets— across the nation.

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Yale Bulldogs— Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain

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Fountain by Marcel Duchamp at the Museum of Destroyed and Lost Art

Duchamp is clearly a worthy artist, but the first time somebody saw his Fountain at a museum they must have asked themselves, “Why is this here?” This reaction isn’t too far off from how fans around the nation reacted when finding out that Yale had been chosen to play in this year’s NCAA tournament.

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But after some brief explanation, or in Yale’s case an unexpected win against Baylor, viewers nodded their heads saying, “Hmm, I kind of get it now.”  

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Yup, totally get it.


Though everyone likes seeing the underdog win, it wasn’t too surprising when the Ivy League lost to Duke this past weekend.

Special Mention: Ben Simmons— Diego Rivera

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Here’s something the Australian player (and touted number 1 NBA draft pick) and the Mexican artist have in common: they’re really good at what they do, but they chose to play for the wrong team.

Maybe next year, if you play your cards right, you’ll actually get to be on the court, huh mate?

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Fans are bracing themselves for another weekend of match-ups, taking us one step closer to the national championships. We hope you’ll join them and that you were finally able to get in the spirit of college basketball. 

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By Kyla

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Kyla Crisostomo

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