The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, or March Madness, is set to tip off tonight. The Duke Blue Devils have the number one overall seed and are the most likely to win the national championship.
However, a Final Four based upon the best mascots in the tournament would be quite different, indeed.
March Madness Mascot Bracket
East Regional Champion – the Saint Louis Billikens
From the East region, our champion is the 13-seeded Saint Louis Billikens. Their namesake is simply too batty to ignore.
In fact, the Billiken is a delightful combination of horror, fun and insanity. A billiken is a charm doll that an art teacher, Florence Pretz, created out of a dream that she had. The result of Pretz’s dream was a smiling, implike creature that purportedly brings luck:
Does this look like a benevolent entity? That smile is definitely the look of a soul devourer.
West Regional Champion – the Northern Kentucky Norse
The 14-seed Northern Kentucky Norse are the surprising winners out of their bracket. They had to defeat the Vermont Catamounts in the regional final to reach this point, but won out due to the overall specificity and expert pronunciation required for their mascot.
For one thing, the mascot is completely non-gendered. Both men’s and women’s teams at NKU are called the Norse, which is a remarkable blow for equality.
The name also requires some lingual gymnastics to avoid some nearby pitfalls. The temptation to call the school either Norsern Kentucky or the Northern Kentucky North is almost overwhelming.
“Norse” is also a somewhat awkward plural, like “deer” or “sheep.” It seems likely that churlish competitors of NKU would call them the “Norses,” just to get under their collective skin.
South Regional Champion – the UC Irvine Anteaters
In terms of a mascot bid, the 13th-seeded Anteaters of UC Irvine had the easiest road to the Final Four of them all. None of the other teams in that region have mascots that inspire fear, wonder, or any other discernible emotion.
So, the win goes to the Anteaters, a Central American relative of sloths and armadillos. According to Wikipedia, the anteater’s tongue is a long tube that can extend longer than the length of its head.
Clearly, UC-Irvine is not trying to make things work as Wildcats or Bulldogs. So, the school gets the nod for helping to explore the space a bit.
Midwest Regional Champion – the Wofford Terriers
The 7-seed Wofford Terriers are likely the only Mascot Final Four member that may also make a run toward the actual Final Four. Led by phenom Fletcher Magee, the Terriers have won 29 games this season, despite having one of the cutest mascots ever.
Now, it’s possible that you’re questioning what kind of terrier Wofford means. After all, pit bulls are terriers, so that could be quite intimidating.
However, this is the current Wofford mascot. She goes by the name “Blitz,” but her official name is Magnolia:
Awww! So adorable!
Wofford also wins points for choosing a mascot whose vocalization sounds like the first syllable of the school’s name. That’s probably a stretch, though.
March Madness mascot matchups that could occur
Sometimes things just work out. Sometimes there’s a kind of symmetry between the mascots of two teams. Here are some upcoming examples and possibilities:
- Wildcats vs. Wildcats–there are four Wildcats teams in the tournament, and two (Kentucky and Abilene Christian) will square off in the first round.
- In theory, three out of four Final Four teams could be named the Bulldogs.
- There’s a chance at three unique same mascot games: Aggies, Gaels, and Knights.
- A first-round win for Texas Tech and St. John’s would set up an all-red game (Red Storm vs. Red Raiders)
- The winners of the all-red game could then potentially meet the Syracuse Orange.
- The battle for the underworld could happen in the Final Four if Duke and Arizona State make it out of their regions (Blue Devils vs. Sun Devils).
- We could get a full-on financial crisis in the West region if Buffalo and Baylor collide (Bulls vs. Bears).
You get the idea. Make sure you watch to see what matchups happen. There’s nothing wrong with picking your March Madness bracket based upon the best mascots available.