Mascot Madness 2019
It is time for my annual tradition of filling out the NCAA Tournament bracket based on the very important question “Which mascot would win in a fight?” As always, the answers of these questions are thoroughly researched (i.e. Google, Wikipedia, and a host of college athletic websites), based on the concept of a one-on-one fight, and follow an ironclad set of internal rules that I have kept as I been doing this for many, many years. I’ll go through the regions to explain some of my reasoning.
I had to think about two of these for a moment. A bruin is easily going to beat an owl and a knight is definitely going to defeat a panther (weapons and armor are a key factor). Eagle versus Bison (NC Central vs. ND State)? I went back and forth but ultimately went with the eagle for its ability of flight. If the bison could rear up on its hind legs and swat at the eagle like a bear, then I’d give it a shot. And then there is Sun Devils versus Red Storm (Arizona State vs. St. John’s). These are two nebulous, hard-to-define mascots. Ultimately, the Sun Devil mascot looks goofy and if in some hypothetical scenario it receives power from the sun then a storm should take it out (also, Arizona State clearly had a weaker basketball resume than my alma mater Furman and shouldn’t be in the tournament at all).
Every year I have no idea what to do with Duke. Do I all that a Blue Devil has supernatural powers? Do I base it off the of the C-list DC Comics superhero? Do I just base it on (again) their goofy-looking mascot? No. If they changed their name to the Duke Zion Williamsons then they would go to the Final Four every year, but with their current name they lose to an eagle in the first round.
VA Tech and Saint Louis was the only other first rounder that I had to think about. A Hokie isn’t really a thing. It’s kind of a turkey and it’s kind of a nod to the fact that Virginia Tech football players gobbled down their food. A Billiken was a popular charm doll created in the early 1900s that is supposed to represent things as they ought to be. So the Hokie wins, I guess?
In the second round, a bruin beats a tiger because a bear can also fight on its hind legs. And that leaves us with the Elite Eight matchup between the UCF Knights and the Michigan State Spartans. Two evenly matched opponents, either of which could win the fight. I gave the edge to the Spartans because of their legendary characterization as fierce warriors. Also, Sparta was a democracy while knights typically served under a king. So bonus points for fighting for each other rather than a royal.
Typically humans beat animals in these brackets, but the Marquette Golden Eagles take out the Murray State Racers, because it’s literally a guy on a horse. He’s got nothing to defend himself. What’s he going to do? Swat the eagle? The Red Storm loses to the Bulls of Buffalo because I feel like a bull could outlast a storm. And in another tight contest the Norse of Northern Kentucky defeat the Texas Tech Red Raiders. I’m already second guessing this one because a Red Raider would technically have access to weaponry to defeat the Norse, but Vikings are tough people so my gut went with them. Finally, the Nevada Wolf Pack defeated the Florida Gators solely by virtue that they are a wolf pack. If they were the Nevada Wolves, I would have been more apt to give the gator a shot.
In the second round, the Bulls defeat the Norse probably because I felt like the Norse shouldn’t have made it out of the first round. Also one non-matador person fighting an angry bull doesn’t seem like it would work. The Grizzlies defeat the Wolf Pack because I googled about whether a grizzly bear would win in a fight against wolves and the first person I saw was convinced that the bear would be successful against a normal sized wolf pack.
In the Sweet Sixteen, Knights defeat Seminoles in a very closely contested battle and Grizzlies take down the Bulls (it has been a running theme of Mascot Madness that I have enormous respect for the ursine family). The weaponry of the Knights ends the Grizzly reign of terror in the West Regional Final.
I wish that both the Rebels and the Sooners could lose in the Ole Miss-Oklahoma matchup. It’s a battle between a team that is named after the Confederacy and a team named after people who cheated and stormed Oklahoma to claim land (a.k.a. steal it from Natives) before they were supposed to). Regardless, the winner doesn’t get out of the second round. I don’t have anything to say about the Kansas State-UC Irvine matchup other than to give a shout out to Irvine for nicknaming their team the Anteaters. It didn’t win the school its matchup, but it did win my respect. Boilermakers defeat Monarchs because a boilermaker is a railroad worker and a monarch doesn’t seem like he could take on the working class folk in a fight. Raiders defeat Volunteers, because Tennessee is the Volunteer State so we’re talking about the average Tennesseean. I live in Tennessee. I don’t think the average Tennesseean is winning against a person whose profession is to raid things. I know I couldn’t.
The rest of the bracket shakes out how you would expect. I have long thought that the Cavaliers are some of the weakest of the human fighter mascot genre so losing to the Raiders in the Elite Eight is a great accomplishment for them.
A Tar Heel is a citizen of North Carolina. A Gael is someone who hails from a Gaelic-speaking country (Ireland, Scotland, etc.). Do the Gaels win because I’m from South Carolina and I have an inferiority complex when it comes to North Carolina? I’m not saying that’s the case. But I’m not not saying that’s the case either.
The second round presents an interesting matchup: Cyclones versus Pirates. Long time followers of Mascot Madness know that Iowa State, Tulsa (Golden Hurricanes), and Miami (Hurricanes) have a stranglehold on the coveted crown of mascot fight supremacy. But could a pirate survive a showdown with a cyclone on the high seas? They have a good shot. However in consulting my rules these battles are one-on-one fights unless the team’s mascot indicates plurality that goes beyond the typical placing of the letter s on a mascot’s name (the Wolf Pack Amendment). So does one pirate on a ship stand a chance against a cyclone? I don’t think s/he does. You need a ship full of pirates to navigate the boat through that kind of storm. So what I’m saying is Seton Hall needs to change their mascot to the Pirate Crew and they might be able to accomplish something that no other non-natural disaster mascot has accomplished in the history of this tournament.
Spartan takes down Knight for the second round in a row and the Cyclone makes quick work of the Raider. I don’t have to tell you how the championship ends because this tournament was over when the bracket was announced. Michigan State has a great run, but it was ultimately not enough to take down Iowa State. Congratulations to the Cyclones on winning yet another NCAA Tournament Mascot Championship. See everyone next year!