We wrap up the opening round of competition with matchups featuring the tournament’s only Oscar winner, a former Miss USA, the Big Aristotle, and a famously gutsy Grambling Tiger. (For Day 7’s results, click here.)
FOXES: Reese Witherspoon (2) vs. Arlene Howell (15)
Second-seeded Reese Witherspoon may be best known for her role in the film Sweet Home Alabama, but she was born in New Orleans. A blonde, blue-eyed Southern girl with a reputation for injecting energy and life into even the limpest of movies (giggity), Witherspoon made her film debut at the age of 14 as the female lead in The Man in the Moon. And while her breakthrough role came in 2001 with the hit Legally Blonde, she received worldwide praise and brought home the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics Choice Awards for Best Actress for her role as June Carter Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line. And the fact she was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2013 makes her that much hotter.
She’s a blonde, blue-eyed Southern girl with a reputation for injecting energy and life into even the limpest of movies (giggity).
In 1958, No. 15 seed Arlene Howell became the first of three Miss Louisiana USA titleholders to win the Miss USA crown. Later that same week, after winning the Miss USA pageant in Long Beach, CA, the Delhi native placed as third runner-up in the Miss Universe competition. She was soon cast as a regular in the ABC/Warner Brothers crime drama Bourbon Street Beat, which was undoubtedly the inspiration for the current hit TV show NCIS: New Orleans. She made a few more appearances on shows like Maverick (with James Garner) and 77 Sunset Strip before apparently leaving show business after her character Flora in a 1966 episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was paired off with Sergeant Carter by Gomer himself. Well, gawwww-lee!
JOCKS(es): Shaquille O’Neal (2) vs. Willis Reed (15)
No. 2 seed Shaquille O’Neal was born in Newark, NJ, and went to high school in San Antonio, TX, but he’s a proud LSU Tiger. With forays into rapping, acting, broadcasting, business, law enforcement, and mixed martial arts, the 7’1″, 325-pound Hall of Famer is almost literally larger than life. The 15-time All-Star has four NBA championship rings, two Olympic gold medals, three college degrees, and an assload of nicknames. In 2011, Shaq helped unveil a 900-pound, 20-foot-tall bronze statue of his younger self dunking with both hands outside the LSU practice facility. CAN YOU DIG IT?
The 15-time All-Star has four NBA championship rings, two Olympic gold medals, three college degrees, and an assload of nicknames.
While Shaq was known for bruising opponents, his opponent is most famous for playing bruised in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. A torn muscle in 15th-seeded Willis Reed’s right thigh kept him out of Game 6 when the Lakers tied the series behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 45 points and 27 rebounds. The former Grambling State star and Lincoln Parish native wasn’t expected to play in Game 7, and he didn’t warm up with his New York Knicks teammates, but when the future Hall of Famer emerged from the tunnel, limping onto the floor for the opening tip, the cheering crowd witnessed what’s been called the greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden. The gutsy team captain inspired the Knicks to win their first NBA title — and garnered the series MVP honors — that night. Three years later, he and the Knicks did it all over again, except without all the drama and limping.
Ready. Set. VOTE! (Polls close nightly at 10 p.m. CDT.)
FYI: If you’re trying to figure out our brotastic competition, here’s an explanation.