April 17, 2024

Mascot March Madness: One winner to rule them all

March Madness is upon us. Because the Round of 64 games started Thursday, I decided to fill out my own bracket. Simple, right? I just pick Kentucky to win it all, pick a few upsets (*ahem* Eastern Washington) and I should be in good shape. Not quite. My match-up winners are based on mascots alone.

Logo by Rob Heller.

March Madness is upon us.  Because the Round of 64 games started Thursday, I decided to fill out my own bracket.

Simple, right?  I just pick Kentucky to win it all, pick a few upsets (*ahem* Eastern Washington) and I should be in good shape. Not quite.  My match-up winners are based on mascots alone.

The guidelines:

– One of each mascot (i.e. a wildcat for Kentucky and a pirate for Hampton) are hypothetically placed in a gladiator arena.

– The winner is the chosen victor of a hypothetical fight-to-the-death.

– This winner moves on to the next round, same as in a regular bracket and is a completely healed person/animal/mascot thing.

– For match-ups that include animals bound to the water, the non-aquatic challenger will hypothetically be placed in water against the aquatic animal.

Round of 64 highlights:

(1) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (16) Hampton Pirates: Ironically, a pirate wouldn’t have much trouble defeat a wildcat in combat.  Wildcats aren’t very big.  The largest prey they usually kill are small deer.  Throw a wildcat up against a foe twice a small deer’s size and give the opponent a sword?  The Hampton Pirates become the first ever 16 seed to defeat a 1 seed in the NCAA Mascot Fight to the Death Tournament and also the first lower seed to defeat a higher seed and the first winner of any mascot match-up ever.

(1) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (16) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers: The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were named after a character named Chanticleer from a Geoffrey Chaucer story.  Chanticleer was a proud rooster whose voice was the loudest at his farm.  A badger would waste no time tearing him to shreds. On, Wisconsin.

(5) Northern Iowa Panthers vs. (12) Wyoming Cowboys: A panther facing off against a cowboy?  Where’s Clint Eastwood when you need him? Probably sitting on his couch, watching actual March Madness games.  Given that the cowboy has at least one gun and a lasso, I’m picking Wyoming.

(2) Virginia Cavaliers vs. (15) Belmont Bruins: A cavalier is basically a dressed-down knight.  A bruin is a brown bear.  A ferocious, angry, cavalier-pummeling brown bear.  If any readers wish to fight a brown bear, I hope you wear something more than tights.

(3) Iowa State Cyclones vs. (14) UAB Blazers: This was a tough one to lay out.  Because a cyclone and a dragon can’t really “fight,” I decided to base the match-up off of whether a dragon could survive a powerful cyclone or not.  And it can.  It’s a dragon, like, a real dragon.  Is it possible to call a dragon my Cinderella story? Heck, I’m doing it anyway.  UAB moves on.

Round of 32 Highlights

(11) Texas Longhorns vs. (3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish: After spending a long time trying to figure out what kind of weapon an Irishman would have, I decided to go with a glass.  A drinking glass.  Appropriate? In some ways. Helpful whilst fighting a 1,300 pound Longhorn? No. 11 Texas nabs a Sweet 16 appearance.

(1) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys: This cowboy has at least six bullets in his gun along with a lasso, knife and the legacy of the Wild West on his side.  He takes down the badger in a tough fight.

(7) Michigan State Spartans vs. (15) Belmont Bruins: Earlier, I pitted a cavalier against a bruin and picked the bear.  With better armor and more impressive swordsmanship, Sparty is moving on.

(1) Duke Blue Devils vs. (9) St. John’s Red Storm: Duke’s nickname, the Blue Devils, originated from a French military unit that impressed some Duke students.  They may have impressed during wartime, but they won’t be defeating any red storms.  St. John’s eliminates the final No. 1 seed.

Sweet 16 Highlights: 

(16) Hampton Pirates vs. (13) Valparaiso Crusaders: There aren’t many things scarier than a man with a sword inflamed with religion, but a pirate who specializes in sword fighting is one of them.  The Pirates are one step closer to the glory they normally wouldn’t deserve.

(3) Baylor Bears vs. (15) Texas Southern Tigers: And now the cream of the predator crop start to face off.  Size and strength versus speed and slashing.  Wait a minute, isn’t this a Big 10 vs. SEC football storyline? The Big 10 has a lot of size and a nasty swipe, but the SEC is able to strike quickly and often to wear the Big 1o down to defeat.  I mean tiger and bear.  Baylor doesn’t get left out of this playoff.

Elite Eight Highlights:

(9) Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. (3) Baylor Bears: I’ve picked these cowboys and the Wyoming cowboys in every match.  That stops now.  The cowboy will have some firepower, but nothing strong enough to take down the bear.  That big ol’ boy will have the cowboy pinned in a corner in short order.

(9) St. John’s Red Storm vs. (14) UAB Blazers: The same situation applies here as it did in the Blazer’s Round of 64 match-up with the Cyclones.  The UAB dragon survives another storm to take on the Wyoming Cowboy.

Final Four:

(16) Hampton Pirates vs. (3) Baylor Bears: The streak ends here for play-in game winner Hampton.  As skilled as a pirate is,  he cannot get close enough to the bear to consistently attack without getting mauled.  On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Baylor.

(12) Wyoming Cowboys vs. (14) UAB Blazers: Sorry, cowboy.  You aren’t gonna be shooting down any dragons with your magnums anytime soon. Cinderella dances on.

Championship Game:

(3) Baylor Bears vs. (14) UAB Blazers: Baylor’s bear can hope for midnight all it wants to, but Cinderella is going to be dancing all night long.  The dragon cooks its meal by torching the bear in one breath, then gulps it down in one bite. UAB wins the National Championship.  The athletic department raises so much money that they have no choice but to resurrect the football program.  Everyone wins.

Edited by Maggie Jones

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Nathan is a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He spends most of his free time eating meaningless foods and watching sports. If you wish to contact Nathan, you can email him at wodom3@vols.utk.edu or find him on Twitter, @NathanOdom11.