I'm no basketball fan. Actually, I'm not much of a sports fan at all (although I confess to suffering from a heart-breaking affection for, and interest in, the New Orleans Saints ).
So unlike many Americans at this time of year, I remain sane throughout this period of "March Madness." But all the alliteration is inescapable — "March Madness"; "Sweet Sixteen"; "Final Four"; "Elite Eight."
Wait! "Elite Eight"? What a terrible term for the eight college basketball teams remaining in the annual NCAA tournament. It's not alliterative at all.
I suppose people use it because "elite" starts with an "e" — just like "eight" starts with an "e." Alliteration, though, is not about the alphabet; it's about sound.
The first sound heard when an American says "elite" is a long E. The first sound heard when an American says "eight" is a long A.
A better term for the eight teams remaining in the tournament is, say, "Awesome Eight." "Amazing Eight" also works pretty well. Even "Great Eight" works better than the abominable term now used.
Hearing sportscasters say "elite eight" is grating.