Three Ducks to compete in academic version of the Sweet 16

Bracket Genius logo

Three students from the UO’s Clark Honors College are in Chicago this week to pit their brains, rather than brawn, against student teams from schools competing in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men’s Championship basketball tournament.

Bracket Genius is a bracket-style, winner-take-all game show in which three-person teams representing the final 16 schools in the March Madness men’s college basketball tournament compete in a trivia game show for a chance at winning the grand prize of $100,000 in scholarships to be shared equally among winning teammates.

The competition is designed to let contestants show their school spirit and pride while emphasizing academics with trivia categories including arts, geography and politics, history, pop culture, science, and sports. Twenty-four UO contestants battled it out in a preliminary elimination round earlier this month at Falling Sky in the EMU for the honor of making it onto the final team.

Nadav Menashe, a biology major with psychology and chemistry minors; Bryce Thompson, a cinema studies and humanities double major with history and English minors; and John Dechert, a math major, prevailed. Collectively their interests and academic strengths cover a variety of subject areas.

“It’s a true honor to be selected to represent the university in Bracket Genius,” Nadav said. “I hope I can make the entire student body proud and represent the school well, and of course, hopefully win some money as well.”

During the preliminary elimination round, Menashe correctly answered the question, “Name the famous portrait photographer who has taken pictures of people such as John Lennon and Miley Cyrus?” earning him a spot on the team.

“For some odd reason, I knew the answer was Annie Leibovitz,” Menashe said. “As soon as I got that question correct, I really believed I had a good shot of making it past the preliminary round.”

For Dechert, the question that made the difference was, “What is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy to have sunk an enemy vessel?” The answer is the USS Constitution.

“When I was young I received a book from my grandparents detailing the battles of the past 3 or 4 millennia. Of course, this included that a 200-year-old sailing ship was not only still commissioned in the U.S. Navy but was also the most decorated,” Dechert said. “It is great to see that all the hours of my youth spent with my head in some history book or some novel or some science magazine has not gone to waste.”

Bracket Genius will air on ESPN2 or ESPNU and will also be available on the ESPN app, WatchESPN. Episodes will also be placed on ESPN3 for replay after each initial airing on ESPN2 and posted to ESPN VOD.

Show schedule:

  • Tip-off show, Wednesday, March 15, 3:30 p.m.
  • Episode 1, Wednesday, March 22, 2 p.m.
  • Episode 2, Wednesday, March 22, 2:30 p.m.
  • Episode 3, Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
  • Episode 4, Sunday, March 26, 2:20 p.m.
  • Bonus episode, Monday, March 27, 3 p.m.
  • Bonus episode, Monday, March 27, 3:30 p.m.              
  • Finale, Tuesday, April 4, 4 p.m.

Both the Duck women's and men's basketball teams advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball championships. It is the first time the women's team has reached the round of 16.