If they were still the Syracuse Orangemen, I'd have a remarkably easy setup for a joke about Jersey Shore. Sadly, that is not The Situation. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to think of "Orange". It appears to be an abstract team name (even though their mascot, Otto, is an orange, they are the Orange, not the Oranges). I guess it's better that way, as citrus doesn't have a whole lot to do with Upstate New York. Vermont, on the other hand, picked the most inexplicable name for P. Concolor, and I'm going to give them some points for that. They could have gone with Mountain Screamer but then they'd be required to build a theme park, I think. Still, while not part of their diet as far as I know, I'm going to say that the catamount is going to be more than enough of a match for the fruit/color/concept. Vermont advances.
#8 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #9 Florida State Seminoles
I haven't been around many bulldogs in my lifetime, but it just seems like you could have picked a more intimidating breed of dog. Sure, they've got that underbite thing, but I feel like most of Gonzaga's bulldog's reputation comes from its spiked collar, which wasn't even its decision. It's not even like they've got particularly long legs. Seminoles, on the other hand, have spears and were presumably pretty good at hitting things that moved a lot more quickly than bulldogs. Florida State advances in a walk.
#5 Butler Bulldogs vs. #12 University of Texas - El Paso Miners
I appreciate that UTEP went with Miners. Coming from Western Pennsylvania, it's nice to see miners get some recognition. Granted, the UTEP miner appears to be outside and above ground. And he's wielding that pickaxe in a pretty threatening manner; as though he's chasing someone off of his lawn rather than excavating minerals. I think that impression is helped by the scowl. Most mascots don't have that much of a scowl. Someone has pissed that miner off. I'm guessing it was the bulldog, who's still not that threatening. UTEP advances. Can we be done with bulldogs now?
#4 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #13 Murray State Racers
I'm not going to pretend I'm older than I am, but I do remember futzing around with something that vaguely resembled a Commodore 64 in the basement of my elementary school. It likely wasn't, and it was something else that I was attempting to learn BASIC on, but how can I possibly not give Vanderbilt some kind of bonus for that? I'd have initially invoked the Navy, but apparently "Commodore" is no longer a rank. Which is a shame. We can equate "Commodore" with "Rear Admiral", but why bother? It's going up against Racers. Whose purpose is to either run away or run along a predefined course for a time, then stop. Sorry, Murray State, but this means something.* Vanderbilt Advances
#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Let's go ahead and keep running with the idea that "golden x" is better than "x", because I'm feeling idolatrous and gaudy. The problem is that it only elevates "golden x" over other "x", it says nothing about "y". And, unfortunately for Minnesota, calling the gophers golden doesn't elevate the gophers above guys with muskets. They ruin gardens, they're rodents and there's no conceivable way they win against musketeers. Hell, this guy took down a whole gopher village.
I'll forgive the fact that you were in Scooby Doo 2 just this once.
If you're getting impaled and roasted by Tim Blake Nelson, you're going out in round one. Xavier advances.
#3 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies
See, this is what the mascot bracket is about? If you put a panther and a bear into a cage, which is coming out? Why are either coming out? What were you thinking opening the door after one killed the other. These are dangerous animals. You really shouldn't just let either bears or panthers out into the public, particularly after they've tasted the undeniable glory of killing another being. As much as it goes against my rooting interest as a Pittsburgher, I can't just ignore the reality of what would happen here. The panther doesn't stand a chance. Oakland advances.
#7 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #10 Florida Gators
There sure are a lot of cougars/pumas/panthers/catamounts in this tournament. Finally, both teams seem to have picked things that are at least plausibly native to the areas in which the campuses are situated. As concerned as I am about an overabundance of cougars in the next few rounds, I'm going to have to say that the Gators are no match for Cougars. From a maneuverability standpoint, from a "can get reasonably far away from marshes" standpoint, from a stubby vs. nonstubby leg standpoint, it's no contest. I don't care if you haven't changed that much since the Mesozoic. That just makes it more sensible that you live in Florida. Brigham Young advances.
#2 Kansas State Wildcats vs. #15 North Texas Mean Green
I know that earlier in this very post, I was down on the idea of naming yourself after a color, but there's something about adding an adjective to it that improves it in my eyes. I'm still feeling a bit let down by the idea of Wildcats after finding out that they're pretty puny, and a bit of research reveals that North Texas changed its team name from the Eagles (which are still represented in the logo) to Mean Green in honor of Mean Joe Greene, which as a Steelers fan, I'm going to allow. I'm sorry if it seems like favoritism after I had Syracuse go down earlier in this write up, but if the matchup is "timid feral cat" vs. "Mean Joe", Mean Joe wins every time. North Texas advances.