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Mascotology- A Different Way To Pick Your Bracket (and probably no worse)


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Are you tired of pouring your heart and soul into a NCAA tournament bracket, only to watch it fall to pieces after the opening weekend? Why not try taking a different approach that doesn't involve nearly as much effort and may be even more accurate? In past years, I've filled out NCAA tournament brackets based on theoretical combat between team mascots. While it was a fun way to fill out a bracket, it often favored human mascots, especially those with firearms (West Virginia, Oklahoma State) and typically resulted in Duke winning it all, because how do you beat a mythical creature like a Blue Devil that may have unknown superpowers?

This year, I decided to go a slightly different route, to see if the outcome might be any different. I'm going with a theoretical race between mascots. With that in mind, here is how I see the brackets shaking out-

South Region

The Albany Great Dane is reputed to run at speeds of up to 30 mph (all speeds are according to Google keyword searches), while Mount St. Mary's mascot, the Mountaineer, appears to be a run-of-the-mill human. Usain Bolt may be able to hit 28 mph, but the typical human in decent shape will top out at about 23 mph- advantage Albany. In the next round, the Florida Gator may seem to be at a distinct disadvantage, unable to go much faster than 11 mph on land. However, they are the higher seed and essentially in their own backyard in Orlando. That puts the race in the Gator's natural habitat, swampy water, where it can travel at up to 20 mph, much faster than a dog can swim- advantage Florida.

In the 8/9 match-up, the Pitt Panther may seem to have an advantage over the Colorado Buffalo, but Google says the Buffalo can hit 40 mph, while the Panther tops out at 35 mph and can only sustain that briefly- advantage Colorado. However, the next round is still in Orlando, so the Buffalo loses to the Gator when the race heads to the water & Florida moves to the Sweet 16.

It's tough to track down the top speed of the VCU Ram, without encountering Dodge or computer RAM references. However, it appears as if the top speed is an impressive 38 mph, as opposed to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack, who again, probably is only good for about 23 mph- advantage VCU. In the UCLA/Tulsa match-up, a Brown Bear has been clocked at 40 mph, while Captain Cane, another human-esque mascot is probably only good for 23 mph- advantage UCLA. The UCLA Bruin then prevails over the VCU Ram to move to the Sweet 16.

On the other side of the bracket, the first round has a match-up between Rudy, the Dayton Flyer and Brutus, the Ohio State Buckeye. While Rudy is a "Flyer," I've never seen him with a plane at games, not even a fake one around his waist. On the other side is a nut with a human body. While this could be close, I'd give the advantage to Rudy, based on aerodynamics. Even though this game is basically in Syracuse's backyard, their mascot is still an orange and there's no way it can keep up with a 43-mph Bronco- advantage Western Michigan. The Bronco also defeats the Flyer and moves on to the Sweet 16.

Even the slowest human mascot can out-run the Stanford Tree, so a 40-mph New Mexico Lobo will have no trouble in that showdown. I presume Colonels, Generals and other officers are not as fit as enlisted men, so they would tend to be the slowest of human mascots. While it would seem that a Kansas Jayhawk is some kind of bird, it seems made up, so it only narrowly beats the Eastern Kentucky Colonel and loses to the New Mexico Lobo for the trip to the Sweet 16.

The Sweet 16 in the South Region comes down to the Western Michigan Bronco and the New Mexico Lobo, with the Bronco holding the advantage by a few miles per hour and moves on to faceoff against the UCLA Bruin, who was able to defeat a Florida Gator on land in Memphis. The Western Michigan Bronco then moves onto the Final Four with a 3 mph edge over the UCLA Bruin (I know this seems like a long shot, but remember how bracket pools are scored and stick with me)

East Region

In the Virginia Cavalier vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleer matchup, I couldn't easily locate information on what kind of bird a Chanticleer is, although some suggested it is a rooster. Either way, I'm giving the edge to the known quantity of the Cavalier human. The Memphis Tiger easily outruns the George, the George Washington Colonial, as well as the Virginia Cavalier to move on to the Sweet 16.

The Binturong is also known as the Asian Bearcat and has a top speed of 15 mph and although it's hard to find evidence of Harvard's mascot, it appears to be a human, who would have a slim edge. The Michigan State Spartan may be laden with armor, but it would certainly outpace a Delaware Blue Hen. I would also suspect a trained solider could top whatever Harvard would throw at it, advancing Michigan State to the Sweet 16.

North Carolina's Ram (40 mph) likely outpaces the Providence Friar, who seems like he would get slowed down by the flowing robes. The North Carolina Central Eagle seems to be a faster bird than the Iowa State cardinal, but not as fast as the North Carolina Ram (we're talking about self-propelled speed, not dive speed), moving North Carolina to the Sweet 16.

The UConn Husky may be able to hit 28 mph, but that is no match for the St. Joe's Hawk, which cruises comfortably at 40 mph. That tops both the Villanova Wildcat (25 mph) and the UW-Milwaukee Panther (35 mph), moving St. Joe's into the Sweet 16. 

In the Sweet 16, the Memphis Tiger (50 mph) outruns the Michigan State Spartan, as well as the North Carolina Ram and the St. Joe's Hawk, moving into the Final Four, where it would defeat the Western Michigan Bronco and head to the title game.

West Region

On the other side of the bracket, we have a pair of Wildcat mascots facing off when Weber State and Arizona match up in the first round. The advantage goes to the higher seed- Arizona. I couldn't find any recorded speed of a bulldog (Gonzaga) but they seem slower than the average dog and I suspect even an Oklahoma State cowboy in chaps and boots could outrun it. However, the cowboy would not be able to keep pace with a wildcat, moving Arizona to the Sweet 16.

North Dakota State is another buffalo mascot, that would have the edge over the Oklahoma mascot, which even though it appears to be a horse, it always appears to be dragging a schooner wagon behind it. The San Diego State Aztec mascot looks to be one of the faster human mascots out there, easily outpacing a New Mexico State Aggie, laden with boots and chaps to slow it down. However, the North Dakota State Bison would be moving into the Sweet 16.

None of the Nebraska Cornhusker mascots appear to be very athletic, so I suspect no matter what type of bear Baylor was using, it would have no trouble in a race. Google says BlueJays are good for 43 mph. I don't know how fast UL-Lafayette's anthropomorphic pepper Cayenne can run, but I can't believe it would be anywhere near 43 mph- Creighton BlueJay to the Sweet 16.

Oregon's Duck (40 mph) is in a dead heat with the BYU Cougar, with the advantage going to the higher seeded Duck. The American University Eagle edges out both the Wisconsin Badger (15 mph) and the Oregon Duck, moving into the Sweet 16. The Arizona Wildcat gets outrun by the North Dakota State Bison and the Creighton BlueJay topped the Oregon Duck and the Wildcat to move on to the Final Four.

Midwest Region

The Midwest Region is the most-complicated region and some say the toughest. From the perspective of team mascots, that's certainly the case as there are three play-in games. In the Cal-Poly/Texas Southern play-in game, I give the nod to the Tigers over the Mustangs (bonus if you know which is which). That winner faces Wichita State and while I'm a big fan of the uniqueness of WuShock, it is just a bundle of wheat and can't possibly out-run the Texas Southern Tiger. Kansas State & Kentucky's wildcats face off with each other, with the higher-seeded Wildcats advancing and losing to the slightly faster Tiger, which advances to the Sweet 16.

The Xavier Musketeer is no match for the speed of a pack of North Carolina Wolves and the same is true for the St. Louis Billiken, which is nothing more than an inanimate toy. The Manhattan Jasper is similar to the Providence Friar and no match for the Louisville Cardinal. The North Carolina Wolfpack tops the Cardinal, advancing NC State to the Sweet 16.

I don't know what kind of hawk is specific to Iowa, but it's certainly faster than both the Massachusetts Minuteman and the Tennessee Volunteer. While Toby the Bear has impressive speed for Mercer, it is no match for the mythical power of the Duke Blue Devil, which might be able to time travel for all we know. That moves it past the Iowa Hawkeye and into the Sweet 16.

I don't know the top speed of Bevo, Texas' longhorn steer, but it is likely no match for the potential speed of another mythical mascot, the Arizona State Sun Devils, which could be as fast as the speed of light. Top speed for Terriers are generally around 20 mph, but the Michigan Wolverine is probably good for 30 mph. That's enough to beat Wofford, but no match for the Sun Devil, who advances to the Sweet 16.

On the top end, the Texas Southern Tiger beats out the North Carolina State Wolfpack, but neither is any match for the higher-seeded Devil from Duke, which makes it to the Final Four.

As with the mascot battle bracket, racing mascots seem to have the same outcome for mythical mascots with unknown superpowers. The Memphis Tiger is good enough to emerge from the left side of the bracket, beating the Western Michigan Bronco, but no match for the Duke Blue Devil, which beats the Creighton BlueJay to make the championship round.

So while I'm not a fan of the Duke Blue Devil, I still can't rationalize how it would lose to anything, but another higher-seeded mythical mascot.

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