We’ve had four-and-a-half months of watching college basketball to help you determine how to fill out your NCAA bracket. You’ve got all of the stats and coaches’ previous tournament records as a guide. Will all of the top seeds advance to the Final Four? Will the power conferences rule the day, or will there be a Butler-like Cinderella this year?
Well, you can throw all of that info out with Digger Phelps’ stupid colored-highlighters, because there’s only one REAL way to fill out a bracket: What school's mascot would win in a heads up fight to the death?
This is America. Carnage and blood is part of our DNA. I'm just trying to give the people what they want.
Since there are 63 matchups to determine one ultimate champion, we'll do this thing in two parts.
Read Part 2 of the 2012 NCAA Mascot Death Match Tourney tomorrow.
(And yes, I know that some of the schools competing in play-in games aren’t represented. But it’s my list. Get over it. The NCAA already ruined my tournament experience by adding four teams. They will NOT ruin my fantasy, too.)
1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. 16 Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Kentucky was the best team all year long, but their Wildcat moniker is overly abundant in this tournament, and doesn’t do much to scare an opponent. Especially, when going up against the Delta Devil, which just sounds a lot scarier than a normal devil.
8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. 9 UConn Huskies
I think it is safe to assume that no non-domesticated Husky has ever been caught in a cyclone. That fact alone makes me think that the Arctic dog would be disoriented, scared, and ultimately blown away with Uncle Elmer’s double-wide.
5 Wichita State Shockers vs. 12 Virginia Commonwealth Rams
What is a Shocker anyway? Well, I know one definition. And in that case, performing that specific lewd act on a ram would most definitely mean certain victory. But further investigation into the nickname reveals that it means someone who “shocks” or harvests wheat. That has a lot less cachet. I envision a ram violently head-butting an unsuspecting wheat harvester, knocking him cold and ruining the fall crop in the process.
4 Indiana Hoosiers vs. 13 New Mexico State Aggies
Another issue of not really knowing the origin or a nickname here. What are Hoosiers, aside from the name of the greatest basketball film of all time? Best I can tell it’s just someone who is from Indiana. In that scenario, the Aggie just shows up, spits out a huge wad of chaw, and shoots the Hoosier right between the eyes. Who’s yer daddy now?
6 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. 11 Colorado Buffaloes
Listen, we all used to be rebels, right? I know I didn’t always come home in time for curfew, or snuck an occasional nip off the old man’s “adult beverage.” But I’ve also never tried to square up on a one ton raging Buffalo. That just seems like a losing scenario to me. So, Ralphie rides on!
3 Baylor Bears vs. 14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits
These mascots actually have something in common, in that I loved to hunt for both of them when I used to play “Oregon Trail” during computer class in elementary school. And while the Jackrabbits might be one of the coolest mascots in the tourney field, in a death match, it’s short lived. The bears lick their paws clean after this massacre.
7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. 10 Xavier Musketeers
I’ve got a few Irish friends, and at the risk of perpetuating a ridiculous stereotype… yeah, some of them kinda like to fight. But how well do fists and often-irrational, Whiskey-induced courage serve you when matched up with a skilled swordsman? Especially a swordsman who likely has a fancy name and more likely has an epic mustache. While I desperately want to pull for the Irish, the Musketeer advances.
2 Duke Blue Devils vs. 15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Blue Devils are evil. Mountain Hawks are graceful and majestic. Evil beats majestic every time in a death match.
1 Michigan State Spartans vs. 16 Long Island University Blackbirds
I saw 300. There’s no way I want to tangle with a pissed off Spartan. Nor does the Blackbird, who upon seeing the Spartan’s “situation” in the abs department, shamelessly agrees to become the warrior’s messenger raven, and doesn’t even engage in battle.
8 Memphis Tigers vs. 9 St. Louis Billikens
OK, what in God’s name is a billiken? Supposedly, it’s a mischievous charm doll created by a teacher in 1908, and is supposed to bring the owner good luck. Well, you’re gonna need luck, because a Tiger will rip your lungs out! And no pansy little doll is gonna stop it.
5 New Mexico Lobos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
A wolf versus a prospector? What, you think those seeking their fortunes out Californy-way never had to deal with wolves along the journey? And dysentery? And a broken wagon wheel? That’s right, TWO Oregon Trail references, Son! It’ll take a little more to stop the 49ers than wolves.
4 Louisville Cardinals vs. 13 Davidson Wildcats
Cardinals are cool birds, I’ll grant you that. But there’s no way a Cardinal is taking down a Wildcat unless it employs the help of one Peyton Williams Manning. Which may happen soon. Stay tuned. (You see what I did there?)
6 Murray State Racers vs. 11 Colorado State Rams
For as impressive as thoroughbred race horses are, make no mistake, they are sometimes frail. I’m currently watching Luck, so I know what a stray horseshoe can do to a horse, let along taking a ram’s head-butt to the hind quarters. And sadly, you know what happens when a horse breaks a leg. More rams advance to the next round.
3 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. 14 BYU Cougars
I love birds of prey, but they are just not going to advance in this tournament unless they’re facing mice or rabbits or smaller birds. I’ll roll with the Cougars. It was my motto in college, and it served me well. Very well. Just trust me on this.
7 Florida Gators vs. 10 Virginia Cavaliers
Cavaliers have swords, which would lend you to think that it would have an advantage. However, a cavalier is also arrogant and vain, and would be distracted by getting mud on his frilly, lace blouse-like garment, allowing the gator to take it down and have lunch. Like they say, if you’re not a gator, you’re gator bait.
2 Missouri Tigers vs. 15 Norfolk State Spartans
Toughest matchup of the tourney so far. Does the tiger use its elusiveness, speed and strength to overpower the Spartan? Or does the Spartans armor and weaponry give it the advantage? I remember Russell Crowe fighting a tiger in the movie Gladiator, and he didn’t die until the end of the movie, and since gladiators are kind of like Spartans, let’s go with that.
1 Syracuse Orange vs. 16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs
Regarding the orange, what are we talking about, here? The fruit? The color? Agent Orange (aka napalm)? If we assume the latter, and for the sake of this round, we will, then bye, bye, Bulldog.
8 Kansas State Wildcats vs. 9 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Again, we are faced with the birds of prey corollary. Unless, it’s a really small wildcat, or one big-ass eagle, then the cat comes out on top.
5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. 12 Harvard Crimson
We should call this one the brain bowl. This would make a much tougher matchup on Jeopardy! but unlike Syracuse’s designation, Crimson most certainly IS a color. And I’m not going with any color to advance unless it’s burnt sienna. Or cerulean.
4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. 13 Montana Grizzlies
Now we’re talking! A veritable cacophony of fur, teeth, claws, and really stinky saliva. I would probably have the badger advancing in nearly any other matchup, but a grizzly bear is basically the equivalent of like 25 badgers, so it has to move on, and might be the early favorite.
6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. 11 Texas Longhorns
I respect the bearcat. I really do. I mean, it’s half bear-half cat. Or something like that. (Not really.) But I just read that it hangs out in trees and eats eggs, shoots, leaves, and small rodents. You know what it doesn’t it? 1,300 pounds of delicious steak that is a longhorn steer. Bevo stomps mudholes into the bearcat and moves on.
3 Florida State Seminoles vs. 14 St. Bonaventure’s Bonnies
Really, St. Bonaventure’s? How about a little creativity? Whether their mascot is the actual Saint, or a wolflike creature that their logo depicts, either way the Seminole moves on, as neither would be able to live through an arrow to the heart. In fact, the Seminole would probably skin the wolf and use it as a headdress to keep warm in winter. Resourceful!
7 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers
All I ever see of Bulldogs is them waddling down the street, looking sad and making rather large “deposits” on the sidewalk. Not the least threatening, unless you’re an unsuspecting jogger who gets distracted and doesn’t look where you’re running. I’ll go with the Mountaineers, only because I want to be able to shout “Let’s go Mountaineers, let’s go drink some beers!” as often as possible.
2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 15 Loyola University (Maryland) Greyhounds
A buckeye can refer to many things: a kind of tree, the nut that grows on that tree, or a kind of candy with peanut butter and chocolate that is made to resemble said nut. All things that don’t lend to great success in a death match. However, the buckeyes got lucky and drew a dog in the first round. The Greyhound eats the chocolate candy, and gets violently ill. The Buckeyes move on in what is sure to be a short-lived advancement.
1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. 16 Lamar Cardinals
According to legend, soldiers from the state of North Carolina garnered the nickname Tar Heels during the Civil War because they were steadfast in their ability to hold a line, never wavering, never retreating. Gen. Robert E. Lee once said they were rooted to the ground “as if they had tar on their heels.” Hmmm… a stationary figure unwilling to move? Sounds a lot like a scarecrow. Or in the case, a “scarecardinal.” My guess is the cardinal just gets bored, and flies away from the fight, leaving the Tar Heel victorious.
8 Creighton Blue Jays vs. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide
Seriously, what is it with colleges naming their sports teams after wimpy birds? The Crimson Tide is another curious nickname, allegedly being named after a historic football game between Alabama and rival Auburn in 1906 that was played on field of red mud. Sure. But when I think of Crimson Tide, my mind instantly goes to The Shining, and the massive amounts of blood coming out of the elevator and filling up the hallway. And naturally “death match” and The Shining go hand in hand. Roll Tide!
5 Temple Owls vs. 12 California Golden Bears/South Florida Bulls
Let’s forget about Temple for a second and focus on this play-in game. Bears vs. Bulls. It’s either a battle for Chicago sports bragging rights, or a depiction of the American stock market. And last time I checked, we’re still in a crippling recession, so yeah, I think the Bear might be winning. And what about the owl? While they’re not natural woodland enemies, I guarantee you more owls have been killed by bears than vice versa. Am I starting to lose creativity? You betcha!
4 Michigan Wolverines vs. 13 Ohio Bobcats
Another tasty matchup of teeth and claws, which I would ABSOLUTELY pay money to see in real life. While I respect all bobcats (except Goldthwait – yes I’m showing my age), I’ve always heard that wolverines are the most ferocious animals in nature. And let’s face it, they didn’t name one of the X-Men “Bobcat” for good reason.
6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. 11 North Carolina State Wolfpack
It hasn’t been a great tournament for wolves, I gotta say. Why is it that the wolves can’t matchup with a docile bird, rather than a race of ancient savages, who prayed to a great Jaguar god, and who regularly practiced cannibalism and human sacrifice? Aztecs in a laugher. Though there is nothing funny about cannibalism, just so we’re clear.
3 Georgetown Hoyas vs. 14 Belmont Bruins
More bears, which usually means “bad news” for the opposition. (Man, I’m on fire!) It rings more true when I learn that the term “Hoya” doesn’t really signify anything, and is thought to be derived from a Greek word meaning “what” or “such.” Well, Hoya the hell kind of nickname is that? Hoya a total fail! Bruins move on.
7 Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. 10 Purdue Boilermakers
Gaels refers to the very old inhabitants of Ireland and Scotland, who spoke, shockingly enough, Gaelic. Boilermakers, in addition to a fantastic beer cocktail, are quite literally, craftsmen who made boiler engines for trains out of steel. And sweat. And brawn. While these guys are undoubtedly tough, you know who was Gaelic? William Wallace. And that guy beats any other human in a one-on-one death match. I’ve seen the footage.
2 Kansas Jayhawks vs. 15 Detroit Titans
Jayhawks, originally referred to as “Jayhawkers” were known militant groups who fought for free states during the civil war, and came to represent people from the state of Kansas. That’s all well and good. But freedom means you're anti-war, and in this game, being anti-war is a good way to get dead. Especially when you are facing the Titans, which are a race of powerful mythological deities adept in warfare.
So there's your Round 1 matchups in our survival of the fittest tourney. Tomorrow, we'll see what the upcoming rounds bring. Who do you think will come out on top?