For several years now, I have ventured to fill out the NCAA Tournament bracket based on one question: "Who would win each game if a single mascot representative from each team got in a fight?" I put a great deal of thought into this; far too much than any grown man probably should. The following are the annotations for decisions that might need a bit more of an explanation.
- Judgement call: Ole Miss loses mainly because their mascot situation is murky. Who is their rebel? A cougar would destroy their old Colonel Reb mascot. Their game mascot is a bear, but then I would have to consider game mascots for other teams. Had they opted for their mascot representing the Rebel Alliance from Star Wars, they could won this whole thing.
- An inanimate object versus a horse.
- A chanticleer is the rooster from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Unfortunately, literary pedigree does not win many physical fights.
- Mascot Madness Law #29: A color loses every time.
- I have a general rule that a bear, with its increased mobility, would win a fight against any wildcat with the possible exception of a lion.
- Mascot Madness Law #8: A chestnut loses every time. Even if it is an anthropomorphized chestnut. If I had my druthers, buckeyes would be barred from mascot melees altogether.
- Specificity trumps generality. A wildcat could be anything from a feral house cat to a lion.
- By designating their mascot as a wolfpack, NC State gets to short circuit the rules meaning that while Mascot Madness posits what would happen if single mascots representing schools clash (e.g. a cowboy to represent the Cowboys), you cannot reduce a wolfpack to a single entity. Thus a pack of wolves would probably defeat a single tiger.
- I just want to welcome UC Irvine to the tournament. You won’t go far, but it is delightful to have a mascot as random as an anteater a part of the proceedings.
- People ride horses.
- Apologies to Dumas, but I don’t have a high opinion of musketeers and cavaliers. Maybe it’s the feathery hat. Maybe it’s the tights. Perhaps it’s the fencing-like sword. While I gave the Xavier Musketeer a pass against the BYU Cougar, I just can’t see one of these guys beating a bear. Is that bias? Yes. Do I feel bad about it? Nope.
- There is a standing rule for the Blue Devils that they are judged by their on-the-floor mascot: a goofy blue horned guy in pajamas. Since we have no evidence of actual blue devils in scripture, that’s all we’ve got to go on. We could base it on the DC Comic superhero Blue Devil, but I would like to cash my nerd points elsewhere.
- Typically forces of nature destroy this bracket, which makes this a truly shocking first round upset. Whereas I wouldn’t have given an aztec warrior a chance against a cyclone (spoiler alert), I think he can ride out a storm. Even a red one.
- Near annual reminder that a Hoya is simply a student of Georgetown. No offense to that institution, but I don’t think many college students would fare well in a fight against an eagle.
- It’s ironic for a wildcat to win a match due to a lack of specificity, but just what is a hawkeye? I don’t know. It’s a nickname for the state. They aren’t the Hawks. They really should just make Alan Alda their mascot.
16. A mountaineer would have a gun. A crusader would not. A crusader would also be one who wages war in God’s name; something the Mascot Madness Committee frowns upon.
17. My thinking is this: The fighting Irish individual is unarmed. The longhorn is basically a bull, an animal from which people in Pamplona run for their lives for fear of death by goring or trampling.
18. A Hoosier could be any person from Indiana. At least with an Aggie, we know they have a particular skill set of making do in adverse conditions.
19. Again, just what is a Tar Heel? Random citizen from North Carolina? The UNC page says it could refer to when North Carolinians placed tar on the ground to slow down British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Great piece of history, but doesn’t that mean the Tar Heels would be the Brits? Last time I checked, Mascot Madness is the embodiment of America.
20. See my previous comment about a lack of faith in feathery hat-wearing swordsmen.
21. What human do I think could stop a bear? The dudes from 300, that’s who.
22. An aztec trumps the colonial because a colonial could have been a soldier or a farmer or a tri-corner hat-wearing fancy pants.
23. This was a tough one. Ultimately it came down to believing a pirate is familiar with a wider array of weapons and generally being a less moral individual (which unfortunately would be an advantage).
24. An aggie could domesticate the longhorn.
25. A cowboy has a six-shooter, but we are talking about six wolves on average in a wolfpack. He would have to be perfect.
26. So I googled “How many shots does it take to kill a bear?” The answer awarded best read: "I wouldn't bet my life on a .38 in bear country. Bear can absorb a lot of lead.” So there you go.
27. Just a historic run for animals going up against humans with weapons this year. Bear and Wolfpack, hold your heads high.
28. For the 4th consecutive year, the Cyclones make the Final Four and, thanks to no team with any variation of Hurricane making the NCAA Tournament this year, Iowa State grabs the Mascot Madness crown for the first time since 2012. Congrats to all this year’s participants. Cue up Luther Vandross.