Autostraddle March Madness 2024: Fill Out Your Brackets Now!

Header: The 6th Annual Autostraddle March Madness 2024

Follow our March Madness content all tournament long and don’t forget to vote for your favs!

If you’ve been around Autostraddle long enough — or if you only stop by to vote for your favorite ships in March Madness every year — you know how much of a basketball fanatic I am. I genuinely take joy from watching anyone play the game: from the 4 year olds on my nephew’s team who can barely get their balls over a lowered rim to the college I’ve never heard of who somehow made their way into the tournament. But in all my years of basketball fandom, I don’t think I’ve ever had a couple of weeks like the last two.

First there were the major women’s conference tournaments. I’m hard-pressed to recall ever seeing so many tightly contested college tournaments. Tennessee’s valiant effort to dethrone an undefeated South Carolina team, stymied by a Kamilla Cardoso three at the last possible second. UCLA and USC battling through two overtimes to see who’d get to face Stanford for the PAC-12’s final championship. My beloved Wolfpack falling short of capturing their fourth ACC title in five years. Nebraska looking like they had the Big Ten championship in their grasp but then Caitlin Clark came alive and secured the win for Iowa in overtime. Paige Bueckers shifting into overdrive to power a short-handed UCONN team to their 22nd Big East Championship.

Then came the men’s conference tournaments. Now, admittedly, usually I’m not nearly as excited about the men’s tournaments as I am the women’s but this year, the men delivered some madness of their own. Top seeds in the AAC, the ACC, the Atlantic 10, the Big 10, the Big 12, the PAC-12, and the SEC all lost. Oregon, Duquesne, and NC State weren’t predicted to go to the NCAA tournament at all but stole an invitation by pulling upsets in their conference tournaments.

And now we have our brackets! I’m still in shock over the region of death — to borrow some soccer lingo — that has LSU, Iowa, and UCLA in the same region. A potential rematch of last year’s championship before we even make it to the Final Four? Unreal. We could see a rematch of the season’s opening game if South Carolina and Notre Dame can survive until the Elite 8. And, in a potential match-up that’s especially thrilling for me and Heather Hogan, NC State could see Tennessee (led by former NC State coach, Kellie Harper) in the second round! AHHHHHH! I can’t wait.

I mention all that to say: the rest of March has a lot to live up to… and, if Autostraddle’s March Madness is going to compete with that level of excitement, we’ve got some work to do too. So let’s get it started, shall we?

Welcome to the 6th Edition of Autostraddle March Madness!

Our theme for this year’s contest is “The Kids are All Right” and it was chosen for a reason. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of right-wing attacks on LGBT kids. They’ve written their bigotry into law, prohibiting kids from reading the books that they want, being called what they want, and received the health care that they need. But it’s the homophobia and the transphobia that are the problem — that has always been the problem — and not the kids. The kids are all right.

Admittedly, it’s not much but I wanted to create this year’s contest as a celebration of those kids. The entire field of this year’s March Madness revisits some of the best young queer representation on television. Of course, we’re celebrating all the new boundary-pushing characters on today while also waxing nostalgic about some of our favorite characters from years past. My hope is that if a queer kid somehow stumbles on this post, they’ve got a great list of 68 characters who they can turn to and feel a little less alone in the world.

Now, before anyone hops in the comments and yells about who’s missing, trust me, I know. I’m particularly frustrated that I was able to find space for Naomi from Skins but not Emily. Unfortunately, there are only 68 slots and the characters had to fit into one of these four regions:

  • Brainiacs — Pretty self-explanatory, right? From Elena Alvarez to Ashley Banks, these are the girls who impress everyone around them with their knowledge and how quickly they pick up new skills.
  • Jocks — Everyone loves an athletic girl, right? We’ve got representation from across the sports world: from soccer and cheerleading (which are, apparently, the gayest TV sports) to skating and wrestling.
  • Rebels — This group is an interesting mix of folks: on the one hand, you’ve got your ordinary rebels… just regular folks content to confound expectations. The kind of girls your parents would’ve called a bad influence. On the other, you’ve got your badasses: characters who have to balance regular teenage drama with the responsibility of vanquishing demons and saving lives.
  • Thesbians — I couldn’t resist the play on words here but, rest assured, this category is filled with artists of all types: actors, musicians, dancers… or in the case of the GLEE girls, all of the above.

Kudos to anyone that recognized that the regions are a High School Musical reference. Y’all are truly my people.

On Saturday, we kicked off this year’s Madness with our First Four match-ups to determine the last four characters to qualify for the first round. We gave the responsibility for determining the outcomes of those match-ups exclusively to our AF+ members. For the last 48 hours, they’ve been deciding which couples escape their play-in games and make it into the Field of 64. Here’s what they decided:

In the Brainiacs region, the AF+ advanced Bel-Airs Ashley Banks over La Breas Izzy Harris, by a considerable margin. In hindsight, this was always going to be a difficult match-up for Izzy: she was competing with the new iteration of Ashley Banks and nostalgia from six seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the Round of 64, when Ashley Banks faces another reimagined character, the region’s #1 seed, Elena Alvarez.

Over in the Jocks region, Big Shot’s Carolyn “Mouse” Smith put up a better showing than expected, but ultimately fell to Dare Me‘s Beth Cassidy. So, clearly, it’s not just our managing editor, Kayla, who still laments that Dare Me wasn’t a more celebrated show. The former cheer captain has a tall task in front of her, though, as she faces Casey Gardner of Atypical in the next round of voting.

We had the closest competition of the First Four in the Rebels region, as the couple from Gen V battled it out together. Just three votes separated our two competitors in the end! Ultimately, Jordan Li won out: their shapeshifting, superhuman agility just too much for Marie Moreau’s blood manipulation.

And, finally, in the Thesbians region, where, apparently, everything does not suck, AF+ voted to advance Emaline Addario to the next round over Ginny & Georgia’s Max Baker. Personally, I was more impressed with Max’s performance in Sing Sing (a Chicago knockoff) and Wellington (a Bridgerton homage) than Emaline’s performance in Intergalatic Lust — but to each their own.

Now that the final 64 have been chosen, it’s time for you to make your predictions! Our annual bracket challenge is ready to go and I can’t wait to compete against you all. Head over to to make your picks.

If you’re new here: these are not votes; that portion of the process starts later this week. The bracket challenge is a predictions contest. You look at the match-ups and guess who will advance before any votes have been cast. How do you know which character to pick? That’s completely up to you. Pick your faves. Pick whatever character you’ve seen trending on social media or whose clips keep showing up on your FYP. Head over to YouTube and track down clips of the characters you’ve never heard of. There’s no method to this madness, just pick the character you think is most likely to win the match-up.

Just remember to get your picks in ASAP. The bracket challenge will close on Wednesday, March 20 — just before voting in the Brainiacs Region begins. With each round of new voting, I’ll update readers on who’s leading in the bracket challenge.

Fill Out Your Brackets Now, Before It’s Too Late!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 396 articles for us.


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