(4) Aristotle vs. (13) Evel Knievel
Aristotle's academic lineage alone is enough to get him into the tournament. He was Plato's brightest pupil and tutored a young Alexander the Great. It wasn't just who Aristotle knew, though, it was what he knew. With a seemingly boundless enthusiasm for any number of subjects, Aristotle made major breakthroughs in philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry, and ethics. On top of that, he pioneered both formal logic and zoology. If you were in Greece in the fourth century B.C. and had a question about pretty much anything, you knew whom to ask.
(13) Evel Knievel
Geniuses don't see problems; they see solutions. Lesser daredevils would have scoffed at the notion of crossing the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle. Knievel, though, knew that you just needed a rocket-powered bike. Sure, he didn't make it across the gorge, but has there ever been a more legend-cementing failure? Throughout the 1960s and 70s, there wasn't a span, fountain, or line of buses Knievel wouldn't take a crack at jumping across with the sort of showman's flair that can only be described as ingenious. To seal the deal, nobody has ever made a starred jumpsuit look as insanely cool.
Sure, Aristotle mastered an almost inconceivable number of disciplines, but he never ran any risk of broken bones during his pontificating. Metaphysics are swell, but they'd be ratings poison for Wide World of Sports. You may not see busts of Evel in any museums, but does that mean Aristotle's the greater genius?
[See the whole bracket here.]