MTV’s Musical March Madness: Linkin Park Vs. Sleigh Bells, R.E.M. Vs. Hinder

It’s MTV’s second annual Musical March Madness! MTV News took the 64 biggest names in rock, split them up into four regions, assigned them seeds and puts them up against one another in a single-elimination series of match-ups in a winner-take-all contest. We’re leaving it to you to decide an actual champ in this field of 64, so over the next few weeks, fan voting will determine who will emerge as this year’s champion. It’s all about the fans, and the artist with the most passionate fan base will score the awesome Musical March Madness trophy!

Welcome to the third day of MTV’s Musical March Madness. With the Midwest and West portions of the bracket already alive and kicking, it’s time to dive deep into the South, which features a healthy combination of veterans, newcomers, titans and underdogs that should stay interesting right up until first round voting closes.

Just as a reminder, first round voting continues through Sunday night (March 20), and you can catch up with any match-ups you might have missed here. Let’s get to the match-ups!

(1) Linkin Park vs. (16) Sleigh Bells
Linkin Park earned themselves a number one seed largely on the basis of their challenging, gutsy, brilliant 2010 album A Thousand Suns. Since they continue to be one of the biggest bands on this and other planets (did you catch their VMA performance at the planetarium?), they were a natural fit for a top spot. They take on Sleigh Bells, who have been steadily building an audience and have a legion of devoted fans ready to go to bat for them. Who will move into round two? Your votes will decide!

(8) R.E.M. vs. (9) Hinder
R.E.M. just released their latest album Collapse Into Now, another stirring entry in a legendary career. They have been up and down but can never be counted out (they’re the Villanova of this tournament, really). Meanwhile, Oklahoma hard rockers Hinder have shed their punchline status and graduated to a much heavier, edgier sound (2010′s All American Nightmare is as jagged as anything released last year). Will their extra volume be enough to topple the workmanlike attack of their opponents? Only your votes know for sure!

Watch Sleigh Bells singer Alexis Krauss make the case for her band!

show|1659386|video|629126

Check out the Musical March Madness bracket and be take a look at the hoops-centric photos of some of the tournament’s biggest bands.