It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, so they say (at least Stanley Kramer), and this is just the month for it because the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is just the occasion to manufacture such madness. As I’ve stated before, each year, my friends and I like to not only compete against each other in the most entertaining annual guessing game we all get tired of after the first week when our brackets are #rekt, but we also like to throw a wild card into the mix that might just cut the brakes and jump out the back of a moving van filled with gasoline: we make a mascot bracket!
The gist of a mascot bracket is simple. You take a look at the matchups on the bracket, but instead of weighing the merits of each team by whatever degree of whatever metrics you choose, you weigh how hilarious each team’s mascot looks and advance the funniest, goofiest, strangest, or most awesome anthropomorphic assemblage of fur, feathers, and funky clothing until you have crowned a champion. Today, I’ll be walking you all through this year’s bracket to see who is the best (in my eyes – don’t like it? Make your own blog!). Ready? No? Too bad! Here we go!
I will include links to my favorite picture of each mascot in their school’s name. Bear in mind that each mascot’s full history is in play. All right! Let’s start in the top-left corner on most brackets that is the South region.
Round of 64
Virginia Cavaliers vs. University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers – The Retrievers had a great American East tourney run to clinch a spot in the big dance, but none of that matters in the mascot bracket, where the muscular, mustached Zorro-like Cavalier of UVA gets the edge over the grimacing Labrador.
Creighton Blue Jays vs. Kansas State Wildcats – There are a lot of Wildcats in college athletics, but none as scary as the KSU cat. As much as I like the more happy faced Jay, I cannot deny the incredible guitar playing by Willie the Wildcat in the GIF I found. I never said the pictures had to be static, after all.
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – Proving my point immediately about the number of Wildcats in college sports, this catty matchup features more wild takes on the wildcat, but even with Kentucky making a more loveably dopey version to join their freakish historic hellcat, they have a looooong way to go to get on Davidson’s level of derp cat.
Arizona Wildcats vs. Buffalo Bulls – Jesus Christ that’s a lot of cats! The emphasis here though is on the competing couples, and as much as I love the horrible hair on the lady Bull, the floppy hat-adorned, angry hick looking tomcat practically wins this one on his own.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers – Like other Loyola Universities, the Ramblers of Chicago have a wolf as their mascot thanks to the coat of arms of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some may see my selecting them in this matchup as favoring Jesuit schools as I attended such educational institutions for half of my academic career, but I am more picking them because the angry ibis of Miami is scary.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Wright State Raiders – Wright State is the first of many teams from my native Ohio in this year’s tournament, and I like what they bring to the table. I don’t know how good their basketball team it, but damn their mascot game is strong. Currently they are represented by a wolf, but in the past the Rowdy Raider, a wide-eyed Viking has led the charge into games. I LOVE the Rowdy Raider. In every picture I’ve seen him in, he always is looking away from the camera at a distant wall or ceiling as if he’s contemplating the serious shit he’s seen. Perhaps that’s why he was replaced by the more focused wolf. Either way, Rowdy’s the mascot I’m looking to here, and Tennessee’s Smokey is almost certainly the first of many to fall before this Viking’s vacant gaze.
Nevada Wolfpack vs. Texas Longhorns – It’s a family affair for the Wolfpack against Bevo, and why wouldn’t it be? Like they always say, the family that mascots together, advances together. Okay, so nobody’s ever said that until now, but it applies here.
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Georgia State Panthers – Panthers, so hot right now! Regardless, the GSU Panther is a little too Kansas State for my liking, and Cincinnati gets props for having the criminally lesser-represented binturong, more commonly called a bearcat, as their mascot, even if theirs has awful taste in shorts.
Xavier Musketeers vs. North Carolina Central Eagles/Texas Southern Tigers – Okay, for these games we need to first tackle the First Four teams’ mascots to get to the matchup in the Round of 64. In this case we have an Eagle who is experienced at taking on Tigers, but I give it to Texas Southern’s Tigers for actually having two tigers. Good on you Texans for actually having multiple tigers when the word is plural!
However, the victory is short lived when you take on the musketeers who have the special edition Blue Blob pop up against rival Cincinnati.
Missouri Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles – Truman the Tiger might be the saddest mascot I’ve ever laid eyes upon, but that only works in his favor.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits – A strong match in the opening round! I do my best to check my bias at the door, but there is an Ohio State rug outside of it. Regardless, that old, sad looking nut gets the advantage over the floppy-eared rabbit, who honestly, isn’t even the best mascot in his state. That honor goes to Charlie Coyote at South Dakota. Look at him show up Jack here.
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans – There are about as many bulldogs in college sports as there are wildcats, but the especially wrinkly bulldog of Gonzaga stands out among them and bests the freaky-faced Spartan of UNCG.
Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs – The Cougar is not overly impressive to me, but human mascots like the SDSU Aztec don’t score as many points as cartoonish animals.
Whimpering Weasels Wolverines vs. Montana Grizzlies – Michigan has had mascots in the past, including living Wolverines named Biff and Bennie loaned by the Detroit Zoo, but they currently have nothing. I look upon the complete history of all mascots in this comprehensive study of mascot analysis, but only if the team has one during this season. Is this a stupid technicality that I made up on the spot to disqualify Michigan because I hate them? Yes. Would I have pulled this on any other school? No. Your point being?
Regardless, the Grizzly from Montana looks ready to Chuck Norris some shit up.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Providence Friars – The A&M Aggie live Collie is adorable, especially when gnawing on a Bevo chew toy, but this dog stands no chance against a previous Mascot Bracket Champion in the frightening Friar from Rhode Island. Anything that looks like screaming Donald Sutherland from the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is terrifyingly well positioned for advancement in this tourney.
North Carolina Tarheels vs. Lipscomb Bison – This is a fairly weak contest, but the Tarheel is good enough to move on.
Villanova Wildcats vs. Long Island Brooklyn Blackbirds/Radford Highlanders – More Wildcats, and more First Fours. Firstly, let’s post the Blackbirds up against the Highlanders. Here we find a surprising contender for the big prize in Radford’s history of mascots. Formerly, they had Rowdy Red who looks like Elmo’s grandpa who’s not a fan of the riff raff who have moved onto Sesame Street. Currently, they have a more of a traditional Highlander… if a Scottish Chuck Norris is your idea of traditional Highlander. Needless to say, they advance.
Against another vicious Wildcat in Villanova, I still like whomever Radford is going with.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – More typically football powers, these schools have made basketball waves this season. Their mascots have always gotten into the public eye, but of the two, it’s pretty easy to see the superior player.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Murray State Racers – Once again: cartoonish animal suit beats human in themed clothing.
Wichita State Shockers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd – Bonus points to Marshall for putting a literal twinkle in the eye of their mascot, but one does not simple surpass WuShock in all his wheaty glory.
Florida Gators vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies/UCLA Bruins – For the Bonnies vs. Bruins it seems to point towars the buffer version of the bear from Ted, but wait, what’s this I see in the past of St. Bonaventure? A tremendous historical mascot! Bonnies 4 sho.
Now can they beat out the Gators? Albert apparently invested in some Lasik and has more reptilian eyes, but that derpy basketball-snouted dog is just too much.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks – Ripoff Yosemite Sam takes on John Cena with an ax. Again, the nod is given to the cartoony guy over the beefcake with the plaid shirt posing as a mascot.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Butler Bulldogs – Hogs or dogs? The pig is big.
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Cal-State Fullerton Titans – Purdue Pete is a soulless monster with a sledgehammer but no emotions. The Titans have an irritated looking elephant. This is one of the few instances I lean toward the human with a helmet costume, if for no other reason than I fear for my life if I pick otherwise.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Penn Quakers – Oatmeal man is a challenger, but my perennial favorite Jayhawk is a thing of beauty.
Seton Hall Pirates vs. NC State Wolfpack – Oh this is a good one, but history proves to be on the side of Seton Hall.
Clemson Tigers vs. New Mexico State Aggies – I love me a funny tiger over humans in minimal themed attire anyday.
Auburn Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – There are bunch of Tigers in this tournament too. I guess Wildcats must have already been overdone so these schools opted for an even bigger kitty. Regardless, of the size difference in these two cats, the Dale the chipmunk take on Charleston’s Cougar gives them the victory.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Arizona State Sun Devils/Syracuse Orange – ‘Cuse wisely switched from once being the Orangemen to simply the Orange, and they also wisely manufactured a magnificent mascot that I think outsears Sparky.
In fact, I think it even outperforms the Horned Frog.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Bucknell Bison – As much as the egregiously-muscled Sparty would enjoy this post’s title, he won’t enjoy my ruling here when he’s compared to that incredible Bison.
Rhode Island Rams vs. Oklahoma Sooners – Oklahoma’s mascot answers the question of what Ben Stiller would look like if he were a horse, but Rhody the Ram wins this round.
Duke Blue Devils vs. Iona Gaels – I prefer the Blue Devil that looks like it was stung by a swarm of bees, but even its bloated face cannot match the freaky Freddy Krueger grin and monstrous mutton chops of the Gael.
Now it’s on! Onto the
Round of 32
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Kansas State Wildcats – Gotta still dig that guitar.
Davidson Wildcats vs. Arizona Wildcats – The second straight round of Wildcats on Wildcats for Davidson, and they’re on for a third.
Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. Wright State Raiders – Further searching did unearth an earlier Loyola-Chicago mascot called Bo Rambler, but when it comes to historical mascots, I still love that Viking on LSD.
Nevada Wolfpack vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – If cartoons have taught me anything, it’s that dogs chase cats, but it never said anything about Bearcats.
Xavier Musketeers vs. Missouri Tigers – Blue Blob for the big win!
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Good ol’ goofy nut.
Houston Cougars vs. Montana Grizzlies – Chuck Norris-y bear over over-mascaraed cat.
Providence Friars vs. North Carolina Tarheels – Not contest here.
Radford Highlanders vs. Virginia Tech Hokies – I am so glad this pursuit led me to this fantastic Highlander.
Murray State Racers vs. Wichita State Shockers – WUSHOCK!
St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – This was a tough one, but the ruby red mustache of that raider edged out the Bonnies.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Purdue Boilermakers – Is the hog still hot? Like it was at a luau.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Seton Hall Pirates – Rock chalk, baby.
Clemson Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – The claws are coming out in this one which sees the Tigers having a sharper swipe.
Syracuse Orange vs. Bucknell Bison – Happy fro Bison for the win!
Rhode Island Rams vs. Iona Gaels – I like these Rams; they’re gonna go places someday, but not against these Gaels.
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – I’ll tell you one thing: a Wildcat is going to win. The charm of the K-State guitar jam has waned in the face of adversity… specifically this face.
Wright State Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – That Viking’s eyes are bigger than most mascots… which allows them to see the trophy awaiting the winner of this tourney.
Xavier Musketeers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes – This battle for Ohio shall be won by the silly. It was a tough call between rolling blob and cross-eyed Brutus, but I laughed the most at the motion of the blob.
Montana Grizzlies vs. Providence Friars – The bear is good. However: No. Contest.
Radford Highlanders vs. Wichita State Shockers – It takes a hell of a mascot to knock out a power like WuShock, but damn it, Radford has a hell of a mascot.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks – I’m kind of boared with this bacon, but am loving that kooky cowboy.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Clemson Tigers – Please.
Bucknell Bison vs. Iona Gaels – Puh-leese!
Davidson Wildcats vs. Wright State Raiders – With no more Wildcats to face off against, Davidson loses its mojo. Also, that Viking dude has me staring at the wall in wonder. Have you ever, like, looked at a wall?
Xavier Musketeers vs. Providence Friars – It’s tough, but the blob is less freaky deeky.
Radford Highlanders vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – The aren’t enough guns even in Texas to combat this Texas Ranger of a Highlander.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Iona Gaels – The cartoonish happiness of the Jayhawk prevails over the cartoonish demonic grin of the Gael.
Wright State Raiders vs. Xavier Musketeers – These mascots have put a lot of time in to face off against an opponent they live about an hour away from. The complete assemblage of mascots has helped both of these, but I’m losing my shit over the previous Rowdy Raider Viking dude.
Radford Highlanders vs. Kansas Jayhawks – I love these matchups! What a solid Final Four. Nevertheless, there can be only one, and we get closer to that with only two. Much as I love that Jayhawk, this is the year of the Raider and Highlander.
Wright State Raiders vs. Radford Highlanders – It’s tough, but it’s really not. It’s the MVP of this Mascot Bracket, the Rowdy Raider, who brings home the plunder for his team.
Wright State Raiders
Soak it up, boys; you’ve earned it.
Thanks for reading and rolling along with that ridiculous ride. I quite enjoyed it, and I hope you did too! Drop me a line with any questions, comments, or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to dribble back here next week for more fun.
Let the chaos begin!