Follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on all the tournament action.
It's March once again and that means that much of the United States' sports-obsessed population is deeply embroiled in a certain basketball tournament whose name shall remain unsaid (let's at least TRY to keep the lawyers from descending into "madness"). With University hoopsters from around the country competing for the NCAA crown, we here at Smokingpipes have been left feeling just a touch left out. Not ones to be on the outside looking in, we've devised a fun way for our friends in the pipe community to experience the passion, fanfare, and exhilaration of competition that comes with an annual championship tournament.
Introducing March Mayhem — a showstopping, eight-blend tournament of elite tobacco champions.
We've identified the eight best-selling tobacco mixtures from our good friends over at Cornell & Diehl (you can learn more about Cornell & Diehl's best-selling blends in our recent Daily Reader post) and, like the diabolical monsters that we are, have pit them against one another in pitched battle to determine which blend has what it takes to stand above the rest.
Starting on Monday, March 28th, we'll be posting one matchup per day (weekends excluded) as a poll on our Smokingpipes Instagram Story. You can follow us on Instagram at @smokingpipescom. There, you'll be able to vote for your tobaccos of choice via the posted poll and we'll tabulate winners for the next round. We'll start with an Elite Eight, whittle the field down to a Final Four, and ultimately crown a tournament champion on Friday, April 8th. This article will be updated after each round, so check back for results and scintillating commentary from our very own bracket insiders.
The Elite Eight:
- Monday, March 28th - Game One: (1) Haunted Bookshop vs. (8) Super Balkan
- Tuesday, March 29th - Game Two: (2) Bayou Morning vs. (7) Star of the East
- Wednesday, March 30th - Game Three: (3) Briar Fox vs. (6) Old Joe Krantz
- Thursday, March 31st - Game Four: (4) Autumn Evening vs. (5) Pirate Kake
Our illustrious broadcast team will be with you every step with piercing insights and dazzling blow-by-blow coverage, made up of myself, David Wheelock, Marketing Strategist, and grizzled veteran and resident Lead Copywriter Truett Smith, whose unique brand of "off-color" commentary is sure to
insult our sensibilities enrapture us all. Let's head into the booth and get things started:
[David Wheelock] (sounding like a poor man's Bruce Buffer): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to March Mayhem! What an incredible field of blends we have assembled as we prepare to kick off the Elite Eight. Truett, can you feel the energy in this arena? I've never experienced anything like it.
[Truett Smith] (channeling an inner Dick Vitale): You said it, Dave. It's more electric than a Tesla on a powerline up in here. I mean, are you kidding me? Eight blends, seven matchups, one winner. It really doesn't get any better than this, and the fans are absolutely loving it. March is back, baby!
[DW]: Glad to see you're all jacked up on energy drinks, Truett! We're gonna need that enthusiasm down the stretch. As you've said, the field is absolutely stacked, but before we break down the blends in this year's bracket, let's talk about the ones whose bubbles burst. Some perennial powerhouses were left out in the cold. What are the biggest shockers?
[TS]: For me, it's Nutty Irishman. It's blasphemous they're not in the field. The Irish have been among the top of the Aromatic standings for years now led by one of the country's most dynamic front-court duos in Frangelico and Irish Mist, but they've consistently been edged out by the juggernaut that is Autumn Evening. The Pancakes are looking to make a deep run this year as a four seed, and boy, can I smell the syrup! Other notable bubble teams were Pegasus and Billy Budd, but their wings were clipped by the committee, with Star of the East and Super Balkan coming in as the seven and eight seeds. It's a strong showing from the English conference: three teams in the field, including the five-seeded Pirate Kake, and things are bound to get smoky in the rounds to come.
[DW]: Great insights as usual. As you say, the luck of the Irish was unfortunately not on tap for this year's tournament but I expect to see them back in the field next year. Simply too good to be overlooked again.
So many strong blends this year, Truett. It's hard to pick a winner. You mentioned Autumn Evening and I have to agree: It's a fan favorite for sure. But, we've been doing this long enough to know that upsets and spoilers are inevitable in this game. All I can say for certain is that the field is smoking and I can't wait for all the action to come! Are you ready to roll, my friend?
[TS]: One hundred percent, Dave. It's gonna be a tournament for the ages: Good ol' Joey Krantz is looking to cement his legacy; the Briar Foxes are raring for a fight; the Bayou Morning River Rafters personify calm, cool, and collected class; and one-seeded Haunted Bookshop is poised to vex its way to the finals. Booyah, baby! Let the games begin!
Elite Eight: Winners and Commentary
The March Mayhem Tournament of Blends rolls into its second week of action with the Elite Eight having produced plenty of high stakes drama and some dominant performances from the tournament's heavy hitters. The fans were out in full voice supporting their favorite Cornell & Diehl blends and the level of competition inside Smokingpipes Arena didn't disappoint. With all of the higher seeded favorites advancing out of the Elite Eight, we're gearing up for a colossal set of matchups in the highly anticipated Final Four.
Before announcing this year's Final Four, let's take a look back at all of the highlights from Round One. First, let me see if I can locate my trusty broadcast colleague, Truett Smith, who was last seen celebrating indulgently with some of the Elite Eight winners.
[David Wheelock] (Looking relieved but amused): Truett! You're alive. When I saw you last, you and the Haunted Bookshop fans were launching rockets from empty champagne bottles. Looked like one heck of a celebration. How ya feeling, buddy?
[Truett Smith] (Clearly over-caffeinated): Wooo! I'm as spry as a squirrel on Adderall, Dave. What a first round we've had this week: Despite a lack of upsets, the sheer dominance and prowess of the top seeds have made for impressive displays — ensuring an exhilarating Final Four to come. I can't wait to see who comes out on top, and it's sure to be a barn burner!
Elite Eight: Haunted Bookshop vs Super Balkan
[DW]: Let's take a look at our first match in the Tournament of Blends where Haunted Bookshop easily cast aside Super Balkan. Talk about a one-sided affair. It was always going to be an uphill battle for Super Balkan — particularly against a perennial powerhouse like Haunted Bookshop, but I didn't see this scoreline coming. Truett, what were your takeaways from this lopsided matchup?
[TS]: Yeah, Super Balkan may be one of C&D's oldest and most experienced blends, but they were no match for chart-topping Haunted Bookshop. The Eldritch Tomes shone with star performances by Burley and Virginia, and Perique dominated the offensive glass from the first whistle. Despite a good showing from Super Balkan's Latakia and Turkish draft-lottery prospect, they simply weren't able to make shots — a testament to Bookshop's defense, keeping the Balkans to only 22 percent shooting on the night. Haunted Bookshop will face Briar Fox in the Final Four in what's slated to be a matchup for the ages.
Elite Eight: Bayou Morning vs Star of the East
[DW]: In what began as a back-and-forth contest, our second match of the tournament ended in a comfortable victory for Bayou Morning. Truett, I have to say that Bayou Morning has started this tournament with a vengeance. First it was Haunted Bookshop registering a first round blowout and now Bayou Morning has produced a truly dominant display over Star of the East. Did you see this one coming?
[TS]: I'm not saying I'm Nostradamus, Dave, but yeah, I had the River Rafters making it smoothly into my bracket's Final Four. I mean, Perique is a heavy hitter, and when combined with top-shelf Virginias, that's a hard starting lineup to beat. I've always been a supporter of Star of the East — especially as a flake — but Bayou Morning has been a mainstay in this league for years, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. That said, I can see Autumn Evening giving them a run for their money in the semi-finals.
Elite Eight: Old Joe Krantz vs Briar Fox
[DW]: Match three pitted the powerhouse Briar Fox against oldie but goodie Old Joe Krantz in an all Virginia/Burley affair. So many similarities between these two blends, and it really could've gone either way. In the end, it was the Foxes who comfortably prevailed to reach the coveted Final Four. Truett, I actually saw this one going in the other direction. Where did I go wrong?
[TS]: Despite the seeding disparity, Dave, I can't fault you too much for anticipating an upset. Of all the lower seeds, Ol' Joe had the best chance of making a run, but this wasn't the fox hunt it could've been. The prey became the predator as the Foxes jumped to an early lead in the first half, and though Krantz made a push near halftime, the compactness and cohesiveness of the Foxes' crumble-cake defense ensured a decisive victory.
[DW]: The old crumble-cake defense, for the win! Let's take a look at Match four.
Elite Eight: Autumn Evening vs Pirate Kake
[DW]: The final matchup of the Elite Eight was an interesting bout of contrasting styles with the maple-flavored Aromatic, Autumn Evening, going head-to-head with the Latakia-lover's dream, Pirate Kake. Truett, they say styles make fights and, in the end, it was the fan-favorite Autumn Evening who pulled away late to secure the victory. What were your takeaways from this one?
[TS]: When life tries to take your booty, make pancakes! The Autumn Evening Pancakes came out on top in the final Elite Eight game — and the best one of the round in my opinion. The Pirates' veteran Latakia was smokin' from three-point range, shooting an impressive 43 percent from deep, but despite a standout performance, it was no match for the Pancakes' sweet and buttery offense and sticky zone defense. Autumn Evening's proprietary Red-Virginia Cavendish is a clear x-factor in this tournament, separating it from the competition, and it just might be enough to see them to the Finals.
[DW]: Now I want pancakes.
[TS]: I'm more of a waffle guy.
[DW]: To each his own, Truett. Let's talk Final Four!
Announcing the Final Four:
Week one of March Mayhem is in the books and it's no surprise that all of the favorites are still alive. Four top-notch blends are within arm's reach of the Tournament of Blends crown and we're all buckled in for what promises to be an epic Final Four. Which one of these elite blends will take home the trophy?
The Final Four:
- Monday, April 4th - Game Five: Haunted Bookshop vs. Briar Fox
- Tuesday, April 5th - Game Six: Bayou Morning vs. Autumn Evening
In the first game of the Final Four, Haunted Bookshop will take on Briar Fox and on the other side of the bracket, Bayou Morning will duel it out with Autumn Evening. Let's break down these matchups of heavyweight contenders.
[DW]: Truett, we're finally here and this is for all the marbles! It's the Tournament of Blends Final Four. Before we get into the matchups, help us set the stage. What does this mean to these blends and their fans, and what's it going to take to run the gauntlet and make it to the Championship final?
[TS]: To misquote the great Jeremy Reeves: "It ain't over till the dottle's dashed," and we're just barely halfway through the bowl at this point! There's really no comparison to winning March Mayhem — the banners, the parades, the trophy. It's a title fans will remember for decades, and all the more so with this being the inaugural tournament. Honestly, it's anyone's game at this point, too, but my dark-fired horse is four-seed Autumn Evening. I know I've said it before, but I think the Pancakes' Red-Virginia Cavendish really has the legs to take them to the Finals and even take home the trophy. It's a blend that appeals even to those who don't regularly smoke Aromatics, so I think the fan support has potential to give them an edge over higher-seeded opponents. Who's your pick to make the Finals, Dave?
[DW]: I have my eyes squarely fixed on the other side of the bracket as Haunted Bookshop excelled in round one with an epic performance. I'm not one for prognostication, but the spooky librarians look pretty unstoppable to me. I think Perique could be the decider for them adding just enough spice and flair to their game to push them through to the finals. Speaking of Haunted Bookshop, they'll take on Briar Fox in the Final Four. Do you see the Foxes keeping pace with these ghostly juggernauts?
[TS]: Oh boy, I don't expect a blowout like last round, regardless of the winner. They're both Burley-based blends with numerous like-for-like matchups, but I have a feeling Haunted Bookshop will hound the Foxes just enough to secure a victory: The Eldritch Tomes have ranked among the top three of our best-selling Cornell & Diehl blends for years now, and while the Foxes have climbed those rankings recently, I'm gonna have to stick with experience and longevity in this matchup.
[DW]: Wise insights, my friend. Now let's shift gears to the other matchup. Truett, I know you're riding the Autumn Evening bandwagon all the way to the Finals, but Bayou Morning is no slouch. I think this matchup could be tougher than many anticipate. The Virginia/Perique fans really showed out in round one. Do you think Bayou Morning can avoid the upset and advance to the finals?
[TS]: You're not wrong about that, Dave: Va/Pers voraciously value vital vies, and this matchup versus Autumn Evening is one that Va/Per nation will show up for in massive numbers. While I'm still gonna stick with the Pancakes, it wouldn't shock me to see the River Rafters entering the finals with a full, post-breakfast belly.
[DW]: Whatever the outcome, we're definitely going to be in for a treat. Well, that about wraps things up. Truett, it's been a pleasure as always! I'll join you back in the booth for the Tournament of Blends Final Four. We'll announce Championship finalists on Instagram and provide updated commentary on this post on Wednesday, April 6th. Until then, I'll be on pins and needles with anticipation.
Take part in all of the pageantry and fanfare of the Cornell & Diehl Tournament of Blends on our Instagram page.
Final Four Winners and Commentary
And then there were two. The Cornell & Diehl Tournament of Blends shifts into Championship mode after a rock-em-sock-em Final Four where a quartet of the tournament's heavyweights dueled it out for a coveted spot in the final. It was a shame to see some of the most celebrated Cornell & Diehl blends bite the dust but, in the end, this is a winner-take-all battle for the ages and, as the format dictates, there's little room for sentimentality. Inside of the hallowed halls of Smokingpipes arena, there is little doubt that mayhem truly reigns and, out of the chaos, two Championship-caliber blends have emerged with a chance to make tournament and pipe-smoking history.
The March Mayhem Final Four featured two scintillating matchups, and the teams didn't disappoint as they tickled the briar with jaw-dropping showmanship and flavor-packed excitement. In our first contest, we saw the formidable Haunted Bookshop battle it out with fellow Burley stalwart Briar Fox, and in match two, the Virginia/Perique hotshot Bayou Morning went to war with the tournament's only remaining Aromatic blend, Autumn Evening.
Let me step inside the broadcast booth and join my trusty sidekick, Truett Smith, as we sift through the leftover ashes from the Final Four inferno.
[David Wheelock]: Truett, I have to say, you have an intensity about you that I haven't seen since McClelland decided to take their ball and go home. Looks like a case of "Championship Fever'' to me. What's going on inside of that pressure-cooker of yours?
[Truett Smith] (Like there aren't enough stress balls in the world to calm his spirit): "Fever," you say!? I'm talking about flavor, David! I've not slept in 36 hours and have been smoking longer than a slow-cooked pork butt. Man, did we have some delicious matchups for this Tournament's Final Four. Let's go over the results of the semi-finals' first game.
Final Four: Haunted Bookshop vs Briar Fox
[DW]: In our first Final Four matchup, action was not in short supply but, alas, there were no surprises. Haunted Bookshop performed like the juggernaut we know it to be and soundly defeated the upstart Briar Fox. There's no shame in the Foxes' performance, Truett. They represented themselves quite well in this tournament with a strong Final Four showing. Give us your thoughts on this one.
[TS]: I mean, I hate to say it was destiny, or that it was over before it ever started, but the scoreline pretty much sums it up, David. It wouldn't be fair to say the Foxes didn't show up; they did. They just weren't any match for Haunted Bookshop: Like they did with their first- and second-round opponents, the Eldritch Tomes quickly conjured an explosive concoction that obliterated the Foxes — not unlike the end of the blend's eponymous Morely novel. The question going into the second half was how high Haunted Bookshop would be able to run up the score, and well, the answer was nearly double that of Briar Fox.
[DW]: Did you say destiny? Only time will tell if Haunted Bookshop can continue to enchant the opposition and lift to the tournament crown. Let's take a deeper look at our second Final Four matchup.
Final Four: Bayou Morning vs Autumn Evening
[DW]: In the late game, we saw a matchup of fan-favorites with antithetical styles — a budding rivalry between two blends who simply take a different approach to the game but with equally satisfying results. The lower seeded Aromatic titan we all know and love, Autumn Evening, clashed with the higher seeded Cajun-colossus, Bayou Morning. Let me tell you, this one did not disappoint. We speculated that this wouldn't be a layup for either blend, and boy were we right. While not a nail-biter of a match, it was the slight favorite, Bayou Morning, who squeaked out the victory with a 60-40 win over Autumn Evening. Truett, tell us how this stylistic head scratcher unfolded.
[TS]: Welp, consider my bracket officially busted, Dave! I went with the upset on this one, but to my detriment I clearly doubted Bayou Morning. It was always going to be a matter of who showed up stronger: the River Rafters' genuine St. James Perique or the Pancakes' Red-Virginia Cavendish. The blends' star players vied one-on-one the entire game, and despite Cavendish's sweet shots from deep, it was Perique's dominance on the glass and prowess in the paint that sealed the victory for Bayou Morning. We're headed for a blue-blooded Final of Burley vs. Virginia/Perique — sure to be an instant classic!
Announcing the Championship Round:
It's all come down to this. After a grueling two-week battle royale, our Championship blends are set, and only one of these amazing showstoppers can earn the title of March Mayhem Tournament of Blends Champion. This is for all the marbles, it's the big enchilada, and the icing on the cake. Only one important question remains: Will it be Haunted Bookshop or Bayou Morning who pack a well-earned victory bowl on Thursday night?
[DW]: Truett, we made it, buddy. We've smoked and dissected all of these amazing blends and, with the help of the devoted fans, have narrowed it down to two worthy finalists. It'll be Haunted Bookshop facing off against Bayou Morning on Thursday with absolutely everything to play for. I'm happy to see you're still in one piece, my friend. Are you ready to strap in for this epic roller coaster ride for the ages?
[TS]: Oh man, I'm readier than a red wren on Ritalin! These blends have all put their heart and souls, components and casings into this tournament, and it's a shame we can't give them all a trophy. But as in Highlander, "There can only be one." This arena is going to be bumping with fans of Haunted Bookshop and Bayou Morning, and I can't wait to bask in the energy and witness these two titans battle it out for the title!
Be sure to visit our Instagram page on Thursday, April 7th and cast your winning vote as we look to crown the Cornell & Diehl Tournament of Blends Champion!
March Mayhem Tournament of Blends: And The Winner Is...
After much enthusiasm and anticipation, the inaugural March Mayhem Tournament of Blends, featuring Cornell & Diehl's top-selling tobacco mixtures, has come to a glorious conclusion. At the close of two action-packed weeks of Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship competition, we're finally able to crown a worthy Champion.
It's been a wild ride as Truett Smith and I have gone deep to analyze matchups, predict outcomes (with mixed success), and generally behave like the crazed pipe tobacco lovers that we are. We've lost sleep, overindulged on caffeine, and smoked countless bowls across the bracket. We hope that you were able to smoke some of them as well — they're best-sellers for good reason.
From all of the head-spinning action and tournament drama, a few truths have emerged. First, your love for the spicy condimental tobacco, Perique came through loud and clear with both of our finalists featuring the piquant, Bayou-born leaf. We also learned that Aromatics were out of favor this year with only one classic Aromatic making the tournament field. With that said, Autumn Evening did the Aromatic family proud with an impressive Final Four showing. Finally, and less critically, we discovered that Truett and I diverge on our preferred breakfast confections. I'm holding my ground with pancakes for what it's worth.
To all of the engaged members of our pipe smoking community who participated by casting votes, cheering on their favorite tournament blends in the comments, and making this event such an exhilarating experience, we'd like to say a sincere, "thank you." You are the real MVPs!
Now, let's dive back into the action to recap the final match in our Tournament of Blends where we saw the two top-seeded Cornell & Diehl mixtures lay it all on the line for March Mayhem glory.
Championship Matchup Summary:
As championship matchups go, this one was a doozie! Haunted Bookshop and Bayou Morning faced off in what was, appropriately, one of our more closely contested battles of the tournament. Alas, there could be only one champion and, while Bayou Morning competed valiantly, Haunted Bookshop was just too strong down the stretch.
Cornell & Diehl Tournament of Blends Champion:
[David Wheelock]: In the words of Christopher Morley, "Human beings pay very little attention to what is told them unless they know something about it already." Thankfully, the fans know a thing or two about pipe tobaccos, so our words haven't fallen on deaf ears. Yet, despite all of our conjecture and pontification, we couldn't conjure up an upset in our championship match. Maybe the outcome was written in the stars. We have a Champion and unsurprisingly, it's Haunted Bookshop!
[Truett Smith]: The fans absolutely know their pipe tobaccos, Dave, cheering on their favorites throughout this tournament as if every game were the final. It shouldn't come as a surprise that number one seed Haunted Bookshop prevailed at the end, and yet it's still not what I would've guessed. That's the last time I'll bet against the Eldritch Tomes: Their triple-threat combo of Burley, Virginias, and Perique were dominant throughout the stretch, and they showed up in massive force in the final game, putting to rest any doubters — like myself — and showing the world who truly is the favorite C&D blend. What are your takeaways from this result and the tournament at large, Dave?
[D.W.]: Haunted Bookshop certainly earned their top seed, and they never faltered. Whichever blend the tournament threw their way, they handled with relative ease. To be honest, I was feeling like an upset was in order. Bayou Morning is a stout and celebrated blend, and I thought they might power their way to an unexpected victory. In the end, it was not to be.
All in all, this tournament has been a blast — thanks to the fans who cheered their hearts out each step of the way. A big thank you to you as well, partner. Your enthusiasm, while bordering on unadulterated frenzy at times, was just the injection of energy we needed to see this thing through. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a long nap. Any final words before we congratulate our Champion and sign off?
[T.S.]: The pleasure was all mine, my friend, and yes, thank you to everyone who participated and followed along. We couldn't have done it without you. Also, a big thank you to Cornell & Diehl for these trusted blends. Be sure to try them all and potentially find your own dark-horse favorite. We'll see you next year!
[D.W.]: That's a wrap, partner! Congratulations to our Champions, Haunted Bookshop, and to all the exemplary Cornell & Diehl blends that competed. For Truett Smith — I'm David Wheelock — signing off. Until next year, folks!