When I first considered this, it looked like I'd be starting the bracket out with an unprecedented upset. After all, if it's hawk-on-hawk, I'm going to go with the one that exists and has "Mountain" in the name over the one that doesn't and has a mascot wearing buckled shoes. Reconsidering the origins changes the picture. Mountain Hawks are, as close as I can figure, Mountain Hawk-eagles which presumably swoops down and grabs whatever the hell it pleases. The big blue chicken Jayhawk thing shouldn't stand a chance, except that "Jayhawker" was a term for militant abolitionists in Kansas who formed guerilla groups to fight off pro-slavery factions. That's pretty badass. Given that they're militants, I'm going once again with the argument that they win because they have guns and I don't care where Lehigh's hawks are coming from. There ain't no mountain high enough, if you'll permit me to get Diana Ross at you. Kansas advances.
#8 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels vs. #9 Northern Iowa Panthers
Panthers are pretty intimidating, if somewhat unspecific. Here, I'm taking it that they mean P. Concolor, though I'm not sure how many mountain lions are wandering around Northern Iowa. That's actually an unfair criticism, as my alma mater's mascot is the Gator, despite there being no wild alligators in northwestern Pennsylvania (they're smart enough that they don't subject themselves to such climates). But what the hell am I supposed to do here? It's going up against a Yosemite Sam simulacrum. Look at that moustache. The fact that the basketball team (so, the thing that's relevant) is the "Runnin' Rebels" just evokes Cock Sparrer's first single "Runnin' Riot" which means the panther is now going up against a Sam Elliott cartoon and some of the architects of streetpunk. There's no way it survives. UNLV advances. And I can't stand the peace and quiet.
#5 Michigan State Spartans vs. #12 New Mexico State Aggies
The tournament is just rife with Aggies this year. I'm not sure what that should mean to me as a non-Aggie, but I'm going with "mildly unsettled". I'd like to see a bit more of a fight against the Spartans, but honestly, you've got the model for a military society going up against this:
Drawn just seconds before he managed to rope his head in the most hilarious way imaginable
What is that? What is that guy? Is that Burt Reynolds? Why does he have a lasso? This is college basketball, Burt. You can't just cruise in here and expect to survive on what you learned in the backwoods of Georgia during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit. I do not care what Jackie Gleason told you. Michigan State advances.
#4 University of Maryland Terrapins vs. #13 University of Houston Cougars
I think the past two mascot brackets have biased me against large cats. Here, though, I can't actually figure out a way that Maryland wins without Ooze and a giant anthropomorphic ninja rat. And there's nothing here to suggest that any of that comes into play. Which is a shame, because I recently learned that the guy who played Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies of the late eighties/early nineties was François Chau, who's currently Dr. Pierre Chang/Marvin Candle/Edgar Halliwax/Mark Wickmund and was hoping to tie him in. Unless he went to University of Houston, in which case the man's just all about destroying some turtles. University of Houston advances.
#6 Tennessee Volunteers vs. #11 San Diego State Aztecs
Well, one group is represented by Jimmy Carter. The other, Montezuma. Volunteers build houses for underprivileged families, which is fantastic and I'm in no way trying to detract from that. But Aztecs built Tenochtitlan. Then again, they also were indirectly responsible for Roland Emmerich's 2012, which should be a point against, but they make up for it with the Mesoamerican ballgame, which I imagine is going to help them in the tournament. San Diego State University advances
#3 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #14 Ohio Bobcats
Once again, we're going with bulldogs here because "Hoyas" evidently comes from "Hoya Saxa!" or "What Rocks!" if you don't mind mixing Greek and Latin and coming up with "What Rocks" at the end of it. Bobcats hunt deer. Which is pretty impressive for a cat. If you're killing deer, you're probably more than capable of handling a bulldog. I know that's true of minivans, and I have no reason to think that it's any different for bobcats. Ohio University advances.
#7 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
I was hoping for something better for the Yellow Jackets. Put them up against an abstraction or something. At least another insect. For most of my life, I don't know that I actually believed that "yellow jacket" was an actual thing. Apparently, it's the common name for wasps, which I didn't understand because "wasp" is a much cooler name. Still, cowboys are more than capable of handling wasps. Sorry Hank Pym. Oklahoma State advances.
This is what you get for violating the square-cube law, dick.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #15 University of California - Santa Barbara Gauchos
You know, for a school that's got a pretty robust athletic program, there's not much I can do for Ohio State. It's a chestnut. Poisonous chestnuts. When the chestnut you're naming your teams after is also known as fetid buckeyes, you're doing something wrong. I don't even have to get into how much ass Gauchos probably kick. You lose when what you're named for is noted for how godawful it smells. UC Santa Barbara advances.