Never Tell Me the Odds

When we left off last time, we'd made it to the Star Wars March Madness Sith Sixteen (I had to make it Star Wars somehow). For the most part the higher seeds won, though Wedge Antilles and Grand Moff Tarkin don't care that their chances of winning the whole thing are 3,719 to 1 (slightly better than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field). It's the big time, though - serious this time. No more room for Cinderellas and Sleeping Beauties and Mulans or any of those other princesses. The players have tasted the Star Wars March Madness blood, now it's time for the killing blow.

Also, as the images in these posts will show, mixing basketball and Star Wars is more of a thing than I would have guessed.

Sith Sixteen

Han Solo vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi - It's time to see whether hokey religions and ancient weapons really aren't a match for a good blaster at your side. Good looks versus the Force, a Wookie sidekick versus Jar-Jar, the Milennium Falcon versus some ship Obi-Wan is going to destroy or lose anyway. There are a lot of factors at play, but it comes down to this: swagger. I hate this word for its modern utility, but that's the best way to put it. Who can blend in to a crowd of scum and villainy? Who's got the crooked smile that draws a swoon from even the surliest Sarlacc? Who's directly responsible for the destruction of two Death Stars? One word: Solo. My pick: Han Solo shoots first. He always did does.

Wedge Antilles vs. Yoda - Another surprise grudge match as Wedge continues his fairy-tale run at the title. Yoda's got the cute-old-man-goofy-backwards-talking thing going for him; Wedge has his X-Wing (which Yoda can lift with a wave of his hand). But Wedge is there when you need him. In orbit around Yavin 4, above the icy plains of Hoth, weaving through the belly of a massive steel battle station - you need a wingman, Wedge is your guy. It's a veritable blood bath, but in the end, Yoda goes hunkering back to Dagobah. My pick: Wedge Antilles in a massive upset over the little green gremlin.

R2-D2 versus Princess Leia - Again, it comes down to "clutch." Leia needs to get the Death Star plans off the Tantive IV and into the hands of Obi-Wan, she goes to R2-D2. Leia needs the garbage masher on the detention level shut down, she goes to Artoo. Leia needs to open the blast doors on a bunker protecting the controls for a Death Star shield generator, she calls for the little astromech droid. My pick: R2-D2 zaps the sass out of Her Royal Highness.

Chewbacca vs. Ahsoka Tano - big hairy Wookie whom everyone has impersonated at some point in his or her life? Jedi Padawan of whom only the most dedicated nerds have heard? Come on, not even close. This one easily goes to the one who merited his own legendary reference in The Simpsons. My pick: Chewbacca roars and Ahsoka scampers like a mouse droid.

Darth Vader vs. Darth Maul - Sith vs. Sith. Soon-to-be-master against the ultimate Dark Side assassin. Armored juggernaut versus tattooed terror. The only reason this goes the way it goes is because one still has good in him. Also, double-bladed lightsaber and taking on two Jedi. My pick: Darth Maul in as close a match as it gets.

Jabba the Hutt vs. Cad Bane - One can literally eat the other whole. And probably would, too. Also, Bane doesn't have a pet Rancor. My pick: Jabba the Hutt gets another light snack.

Boba Fett vs. Jango Fett - It's a family affair as son takes on dad. Technically, they both have the same tools at their disposal. Literally, the exact same set of armor and weapons. As in Boba took it when Jango lost his head so there's no physical way they could both be wearing it for this match. So that's awkward. But really, there's no real contest. No one heard of Jango before the Clone Wars. No on really heard of him after the Clone Wars even though his face was plastered on each and every clone. The words "Boba Fett" = don't screw with me. My pick: Boba Fett in cold-blooded patricide.

Grand Moff Tarkin vs. Emperor Palpatine - Man, these just keep getting tougher. You have the guy with the ultimate heart of stone versus the guy with the ultimate heart of stone and he can shoot lightning. But Tarkin was able to dress down Vader in front of the other kids in a way no one else has. And he's got good teeth. And he never says the words "midi-chlorians." My pick: Grand Moff Tarkin chucks Palpy down the power shaft again.

Endor Eight (these aren't going to get any better)

Han Solo vs. Wedge Antilles - In the battle between Corellian cool guys, there are few advantages. Both are master pilots with two Death Stars painted on the hulls of their ships. Both were there when Luke/Lando needed them.  Both are real, genuine heroes of the Rebellion. But Han's got the Millennium Falcon, which beats an X-Wing any day of the week. My pick: Han Solo accepts gracious defeat from his kinsman.

R2-D2 vs. Chewbacca - I've got a feeling a little bit of electricity won't be enough to stop the flying fur and razor-sharp claws of an angry Wookie. He's a feisty little droid, but Artoo's run at the title ends here. My pick: Chewbacca crumples the astromech into a little ball of bleeping and booping metal.

Darth Maul vs. Jabba the Hutt - Oh, please. One guy moves like black and red lightning, the other needs to have hoverpads on his dais to move around. Sure, the vile gangster could send his dozens of lackeys against the Sith lord, but would it help? I'd bet a double-bladed lightsaber and a lot of severed limbs it wouldn't. My pick: Darth Maul makes a feast of slimy slug-flavored hors d'oeuvres. Which he then throws in the trash because they're gross.

Boba Fett vs. Grand Moff Tarkin
 - both these guys are as cold as the ice on Mygeeto, but there's something to be said about overconfidence. If Tarkin had chosen wisely and evacuated despite his moment of triumph, maybe he'd be around to find and destroy another Rebel base. It's probably safe to say the galaxy's most fearsome bounty hunter never underestimates his enemies' chances. My pick: Boba Fett ties Tarkin up, tosses him in the cargo hold and auctions him off to the highest bidder.

TIE Fighter Four

Han Solo vs. Chewbacca - this is like one of those movies where two family members face off in some kind of sport or contest and both refuse to win so they can preserve brotherly love. Except that won't happen here, because Han plays to win and Chewbacca...also...plays to win. The edge in this one, however, goes to the one who doesn't have a life debt to the other. My pick: Han Solo defeats Chewbacca because of an ancient Wookie tradition the origin of which no one likely remembers.

Boba Fett vs. Darth Maul - The ultimate bounty hunter against the ultimate Sith warrior. This is a doozy, but it really comes down to this: both have been tossed down some gaping maw by their adversaries. Only one crawled out (okay, according to Star Wars canon, Darth Maul survived his bifurcation/fall in kind of a stupidly conceived storyline that wouldn't have been necessary had George Lucas done things right in the first place). My pick: Boba Fett blasts a massive hole in both halves of Darth Maul, then kicks him back down the shaft with nothing more than a menacing glare.

Championship Round

Han Solo vs. Boba Fett - We've been here before, folks. Twice. These two heavyweights are no strangers. You might even say they have a storied rivalry: one the ultimate payday for any enterprising bounty hunter, the other the ultimate nightmare for anyone foolish enough to cross Jabba the Hutt. Both are dead-eyes with a blaster, both are master pilots at the controls of their equally impressive ships. One's a bad boy turned good, the other a bad boy who just got badder.

Round one went to the Mandalorian clone, who got the better of Solo via creative camouflage (hiding amid floating garbage), powerful friends (Darth Vader) and good old-fashioned resourcefulness. That ended with Han in carbonite hanging on the wall of Jabba's throne room. Round two went to Solo, who despite a not-quite-restored sense of sight managed to hit the exact spot on Fett's storied Mandalorian armor that would ignite his jet pack and send the bounty hunter careening into the side of Jabba's sail barge and down into the waiting tentaculatory jaws of the almighty Sarlacc, there to be slowly digested over a thousand years.

And that's what it boils down to: luck. Han is a gambler, so he knows the ins and outs of luck almost as intimately as he knows his beloved Millennium Falcon. She's a lady he's taken to the dance often, so he knows when and where she may or may not show up. She got him out of Mos Eisley, out of the Death Star, away from Hoth, through an asteroid field, out of Jabba's palace and out of a fierce battle on the forest moon  of Endor. They're friends, Han and Luck (not Luke, though they're friends as well), and she'll come to rescue him yet again.

My pick: Han Solo beats Boba Fett, as Lady Luck favors the stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder and sends the bounty hunter back into the Pit of Carkoon.

This has nothing to do with basketball, but I SO want this to be a real thing.


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