Friday, March 22, 2013

If the Mascots Battled - Predicting Regional Finals

Basing bracket predictions off which mascot would win in a fight is a popular method for those unfamiliar with the college basketball landscape (and we all know that they do better in bracket pools than the rest of us). There are some great mascots in the field this year, so here is how I think the regional finals would break down if each team's mascot got to duke it out for a chance to advance in the Big Dance.


Billikens vs. Spartans

The St. Louis Billikens have easily the most enigmatic mascot in all of sports. Even the university itself can't quite seem to pin down the origin or definition of their mascot. As they state on their own website, "Several details seem to be certain. Everyone agrees that the Billiken is a good-luck figure who represents "things as they ought to be." The designer of the Billiken also seems to be fact. Florence Pretz, a Missouri art teacher and illustrator, patented her "design for an image" of the jovial creature in 1908.
The Billiken in action.
It's also known that the Billiken was manufactured in the early 1900s as a bank and statuette and was the national rage for about six months -- kind of that period's pet rock. During this time, the Billiken was turned into all sorts of things: dolls, marshmallow candies, metal banks, hatpins, pickle forks, belt buckles, auto hood ornaments, salt and pepper shakers and glass bottles." -, St. Louis University
The Billiken would advance to the regional final out of the midwest simply because of its magical, mysterious properties and the fact that all other mascots would be too confused to fight back.
The Spartans vs. the Blue Devils presents an intriguing Sweet Sixteen matchup, but the Spartans win out because, well, the Spartans always win out, even when down 300 - 150,000. Look for a glorious comeback victory that will avenge the Gods to advance Michigan State to the Elite Eight.
Wolverines vs. Aztecs
With all due respect to the Hilltoppers, Jayhawks, and Tar Heels, the Wolverine actually exists and he usually means business. It's definitely not something you would want to run into in the wilderness. It is renowned for besting predators that are significantly larger and more well-equipped. Like the honey-badger, the Wolverine don't care. He'll rip you apart for no reason at all.
I like the Aztecs to come out of a weak bottom half of the South bracket, but I hesitate because of that whole Cortes fiasco a while back. Sure, you can blame smallpox all you want, but losing an empire to a few Spaniards just off the boat is pretty weak. Look for the Wolverines to advance in this one.
Wolfpack vs. Buffaloes
The East region has a few of the better live mascots in sports. Butler's Blue II and Blue III get a lot of recognition for being so darn cute, but I've always thought the Bulldog was a rather lazy breed. I like Tuffy, the Tamaskan representing the North Carolina State Wolfpack to get through as the only canine member of the Elite Eight. NC State's website describes the Tamaskan as a "breed of domestic dog originating from Finland. It is known to excel in agility, obedience, and working trials." Sounds like a much better recipe for success than that paunchy bulldog.

You don't want to get in the way of Ralphie, Colorado's live mascot. (
The bottom half of the East region has several of the more intriguing mascot matchups. At first glance, it would seem that the Miami Hurricanes have the advantage. Hurricanes can really take a punch. However, Miami has employed Sebastian the Ibis as their mascot, and we all know Ibises, "a group of long-legged wading birds" are far too lanky to do well in a fight. Ralphie from the University of Colorado, another impressive live mascot during football season, should make short work of Sebastian after getting revenge on the Illini for all those years getting chased across the plains.
Explorers vs. Cyclones
The top half of the West region offers some unique human-based mascots against some feisty wildlife, such as the Badgers out of Wisconsin (you already know my opinion of bulldogs). The Wichita State Shockers and LaSalle Explorers both offer intriguing qualities in fights. The Shocker mascot supposedly originates from students who would shock wheat to work their way through college, though it has taken on quite a different connotation of late. As fun as Shockers can be, Explorers are a gritty bunch who have fought their way through scurvy, chlamydia, and rambunctious natives over the years and can certainly handle a Wildcat or two.

The Iowa State mascot, Cy the Cardinal, as a cyclone. (
The Iowa State Cyclones have a cake-walk to the Elite Eight, facing potential match-ups against the Buckeyes, and the Wildcats or Crimson. Please. Yes, Cy the Cardinal is a much weaker stand-in for an actual cyclone, but for the sake of argument, we are going to assume that he can turn himself into a column of wind at will. How else could he have posed for his picture featured on the Iowa State logo?  This should be a tough matchup for the privilege of a trip to the final four. 

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