By Caitlin Flynn
There are three laws to follow when it comes to filling out your NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket. 1: Dogs always beat cats. 2: Having an armed mascot almost always ensures survival. 3: Two legs good; Four Legs good; No legs bad.
If you're scratching your head as to exactly why you would ever want to follow these rules, you're probably not alone. No one who takes their bracket seriously will follow these rules. But that's no way to have fun during March Madness. And what else could prove your madness more than picking a bracket based solely on a team's mascot?
As the real tournament tips off Thursday afternoon, we also tip off our mascot championship bracket with our first round winners for all matchups. As the actual tournament continues, we'll continue our bracket as well, from the Sweet 16, to the Elite Eight, Final Four and our championship mascot battle. It's our own brand of March Madness, so enjoy, and comment below on your picks to win it all.
No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 16 Hampton Pirates
Crafty sword work and well-timed cannon fire equal advancement for Hampton.
No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 9 Purdue Boilermakers
The Bearcat is a synonym for a giant panda, one of the cuddliest animals of all time. However, in American slang, a Bearcat is described as an aggressive individual. Boilermakers are known for being scientific men who use brute force in battle. Brute force by rail-workers with steel weapons defeat both aggressive attitudes and cuddly pandas.
No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 12 Buffalo Bulls
It's close, but relying on speed, the Mountaineer is able to reload his rifle, and assuming he's not currently growing a red beard, will be able to defeat the Bull.
No. 4 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 13 Valparaiso Crusaders
If you can't run, you can't play. Known for the ability to bite a broom handle in half, the Terrapin turtle can sneak up on a Crusader and reek havoc on their feet and ankles. Plus, the Terrapin lives for hundreds of years. It will outlive any Crusader.
No. 6 Butler Bulldogs vs. No. 11 Texas Longhorns
When the big, old Longhorn falls asleep, the Bulldog will sneak up behind it and bite the steer's Achilles, making for a slow, but effective winning strategy.
No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 14 Northeastern Huskies
Winner: Fighting Irish
It's a rematch of the 2011 blockbuster movie, The Grey. Led by Liam Neeson, the Fighting Irish will be victorious over the Huskies.
No. 7 Wichita State Shockers vs. No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers
The first sporting events held at Wichita State were played on stubbed, harvested, wheat fields. In the school's early days, football players worked at "shocking" wheat. If that doesn't toughen you up, nothing will.
No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 15 New Mexico State Aggies (Pistol Pete)
Winner: Pistol Pete
It's hard to outrun a bullet, even while flying through the air.
No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
A "proud and fierce rooster" is no match for an angry Badger.
No. 8 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Ever play Duck Hunt?
No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 12 Wofford Terriers
The most vicious hog in the world versus a house pet? You know how this matchup will play out.
No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 13 Harvard Crimson
Winner: Tar Heels
Crimson is a color. How is a color supposed to beat a Ram? However, if you acknowledge the official Harvard mascot as John Harvard, a pilgrim, then Harvard still loses to the Ram.
No. 6 Xavier Musketeers (Blue Blob) vs. No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels
All I can think of when it comes to a Rebel is Billy The Kid ... and very few could ever beat Billy The Kid. It especially won't be a Blue Blob.
No. 3 Baylor Bears vs. No. 14 Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State's Panther has blue fur? Bears win.
No. 7 VCU Rams vs. No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes
A nut cannot kill anybody, unless, of course, you're allergic to nuts. But we're guessing the Ram doesn't care about allergies.
No. 2 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 15 Texas Southern Tigers
In a battle of cats, the Tigers prevail because size matters.
No. 1 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 16 Lafayette Leopards
Since the Leopard can't change its spots, the Wildcat will become a cerebral assassin, using psychology to best its opponent.
No. 8 NC State Wolfpack vs. No. 9 LSU Tigers
Remember Rule No. 1: Dogs beat Cats.
No. 5 Northern Iowa Panthers vs. No. 12 Wyoming Cowboys
Winner: Cowboys (Pistol Pete)
Even if handicapped by his hat, Pistol Pete riding Cowboy Joe can overtake any Panther.
No. 4 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters
The bright, red plumage cannot distract the Anteater, for the Anteater has poor eye sight. However, pure speed and behavioral characteristics lead to the Cardinal being victorious.
No. 6 Providence Friars vs. No. 11 Dayton Flyers
The Dayton Flyers, named for the once-thought first-in-flight Wright brothers, already lost one battle, as the Connecticut senate passed legislation almost two years ago basically stripping the brothers of the well-known flight title. The Flyers, spurred on by that severe setback, take their frustration out on the Friars and advance in our bracket. As a side note, just this past Tuesday, Ohio has challenged Connecticut's first-in-flight claims. Hold on to your hats for that battle!
No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 14 Albany Great Danes
Boomer and Sooner pull the Schooner. The history of hard work and dependability of the ponies will defeat the fast-running, but overall poor work ethic of the Great Dane.
No. 7 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs
Eight bulldogs named Uga are buried in marble vaults inside the University of Georgia football stadium, great recognition for their contributions as the school's official mascot. The current Uga is nowhere near ready to join them, however.
No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 15 Belmont Bruins
However unmounted, Cavaliers are swordsmen armed and able to defeat Bruins.
No. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 16 Robert Morris Colonials
The Blue Devils are named after French soldiers who wore blue capes and wore berets, garnering the nickname "les Diables Bleus." Robert Morris, the actual person, was instrumental in helping the American colonies defeat the British, giving us our independence. Freedom!
No. 8 San Diego State Aztecs vs. No. 9 St. John's Red Storm
Aztecs were political geniuses, instituting friendly rulers in conquered cities and arranging marriage alliances between dynasties. San Diego will arrange for St. John's to be annexed by Rutgers. Red Storm, meet the Scarlet Knights. Play nice in the kiddie pool as the Aztecs advance without anyone noticing.
No. 5 Utah Utes (Swoop) vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Lumberjacks are simply not intimidating, unless of course, you're a tree. Swoop, a red-tailed hawk, is merciless and will hunt you to your end.
No. 4 Georgetown Hoyas vs. No. 13 Eastern Washington Eagles
The original Georgetown mascot, a bulldog, wouldn't respond to the name the school tried to give him (Hoya), instead only responding when called by his actual name of Jack. That's one mascot unwilling to compromise and therefore the winner in a battle with an Eagle. Before becoming the Eagles, Eastern Washington was known as the Savages. That would have made this more of an interesting battle.
No. 6 SMU Mustangs vs. No. 11 UCLA Bruins
Big bears will eat little, Shetland ponies (SMU's Peruna), all day, every day.
No. 3 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 14 UAB Blazers (Green Dragon)
Winner: Green Dragon
Only Disney characters can defeat fire-breathing dragons, and at last check Cyclone wasn't part of Mickey's family, so UAB's Blaze advances.
No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. No. 10 Davidson Wildcats
Both mascots are on the boring side. Hawkeyes is the Iowa state nickname. Davidson's Wildcat is nicknamed Mr. Cat. This might be one battle where both teams have to lose. But we'll go with Hawkeyes, as if you break it down to Hawk Eyes, it's pretty intimidating.
No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 15 North Dakota State Bison
Not even the Bison can stop the Bulldogs from making it 3-for-3 in our first round mascot bracket, as Gonzaga joins Butler and Georgia in the second round.