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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mascot Madness

March Madness is now officially underway.  All the tourney sheets are filled out and turned in.  So, the hardcore X's and O's analysis of the brackets is behind us.  We now have time for a more frivolous bracket breakdown:  an in-depth mascot analysis.

All tolled, 68 teams were invited to the Big Dance.  Out of those 68 teams, 57 different mascots were represented.  The most popular mascot was the Wildcat with 3 entries.  The other mascots with multiple entries might surprise you.  Tigers, Cardinals, Rams, Spartans and Bulldogs all made multiple appearances.  But, the Golden Eagles and the Gaels both made multiple appearances, too.

St. Louis University Billiken
When it's broken down by category, animals were by far the most popular type of mascot with 38 entries.  People-type mascots contributed 19 of tournament entries.  There were 3 supernatural mascots.  That group included the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, the Duke Blue Devils and the Detroit Titans.  Then there were 7 mascots that I really couldn't fit into a particular category.  Those included the St. Louis Billikens (arguably a supernatural mascot), the Syracuse Orange, the Harvard Crimson, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Iowa State Cyclones and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Those are the raw numbers.  Now for the bracket by bracket breakdown ....

East:  Syracuse and Ohio State are both in this bracket.  The Orange and Buckeyes are certainly not common mascots, but they are at a disadvantage in this analysis because we have become so accustomed to seeing them on national TV.  The Loyola (MD) Greyhounds got strong consideration, but I have chosen the Vanderbilt Commodores as the best mascot in the East region.

Midwest:  I'm not sure what the selection committee was thinking here because this is a soft bracket.  The Detroit Titans and the St. Mary's Gaels are decent choices, but I deemed the Vermont Catamounts as the best mascot in the Midwest bracket.  Why?  Well, because it's basically a more creative way to name yourself a Wildcat.

South:  In terms of basketball skill, most pundits have declared the South region to be the toughest.  Same is true in terms of mascots.  The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils were sort of in this region.  I say "sort of" because MVSU was eliminated in one of Tuesday's First Four games.  The Wichita State Shockers are also in this bracket.  But, my pick for best mascot in the South region is the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.  And kudos to the SDSU graphic designer.  That is the scariest looking rabbit I have ever seen.

West:  The West is home to the best group of mascots in the tournament.  The competition in this bracket was so tough that the Iona Gaels didn't even get more than a passing thought.  The St. Louis Billikens are in this bracket.  The Murray State Racers have a good basketball team this year and a good mascot.  Murray State is located in Kentucky, and Racers is a reference to horse racing.  But, I went with the underdog.  I picked the 16 seed LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds.  I personally find birds to be quite frightening.  I do not trust any animal if you can't look into both of its eyes at once.  So, LIU Brooklyn not only has a creative mascot, but a scary one, too.

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