Thursday, March 31, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Southwest, Round of 32

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels
The UNLV Rebel has pretty much everyone beat in the Mascot Facial Hair category, which is just one of the many metrics on which I'm basing all of these careful decisions. If your mascot is Sam Elliott with an awesome hat, you get some points toward victory. The Jayhawks, on the other hand, have no facial hair to speak of. This is probably because they are birds. And mythical. And not Sam Elliott. Which is a shame. The Rebel looks as though he's got at least one gun and even has a feather in his hat. This is a man who has killed birds before. UNLV advances.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #13 Morehead State Eagles
So, country rock or funk, then. Or, a fight between Don Henley and Lionel Ritchie. Notably, the Commodores weren't responsible for Witchy Woman, which sends me into a rage. I'm not sure why. I think that it was one of those songs that played on the generic non-offensive radio in places I worked growing up. Maybe it's the falsetto. I'm not sure. Plus, Brick House. If we're going with the frontman's solo career, I can't think of a Don Henley solo song other than "The Boys of Summer", whereas Ritchie's got "Hello", "All Night Long" and "Endless Love", and where would overwrought wedding dances be without that. Of course, the video for Hello sort of creeps me out (there's a definite power imbalance going on between Ritchie and the student who makes a bust of him), but I just honestly can't give this to the Eagles.

Have fun with the nightmares about the unstoppable Ritchie Golem.

Vanderbilt advances.

#11 VCU Rams vs. #3 Purdue Boilermakers
The Rams are making a legitimately impressive run in the actual tournament, but that nonsense doesn't matter in the Murphspot mascot bracket. All that matters is whether a ram, which as far as I can tell hangs around and eats plants, is going to be able to destroy a train, which as far as I can tell is a hulking steel machine whose job it is to not be stopped by livestock. It's even got a little metal bit on the front whose sole purpose is to push everything the hell out of the way. I'm imagining that isn't a gentle process. I can't even make this about 70's music, though I guess I could bring Ram Jam into it, but other than "Black Betty", they're not helping at all. Purdue advances.

#10 Florida State Seminoles vs. #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
And we're back with another Ethnic Group Matchup, which makes my squishy liberal body feel tense and afraid. Rather than outright declaring one group better than the other, I'll simply note the difference in weaponry. The Seminoles definitely have a spear, but it's not evident whether the Fighting Irish have more than their fists and a jauntily cocked hat. Yes, the boxing stance from 1920 is impressive, but it does have a glaring weakness in terms of leaving the boxer unable to defend against a damn spear to the face. Florida State advances.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - West, Round of 32

#16 Hampton Pirates vs. #7 Michigan Wolverines

The real battle here, it seems to me, is not going to be decided by people who hijack ships and the largest land-dwelling weasel. It could, and that would potentially be hilarious to watch (even moreso if the parrot got involved), human-against-small-but-ferocious-animal is not what the Murphspot Mascot Bracket is about. It's about trying to think of ways to differentiate every round from every other round. Hence, comics. Wolverine, of course, is pretty much indestructible given that he's survived having the adamantium ripped from his skeleton and being torn in half by Hulk. But he's overexposed to the point that pointing out how overexposed Wolverine is is a cliche on its own. As far as Pirates, the closest I could think of was DC's Psycho-Pirate who is a bit of an anti-Wolverine. He's an empath and uses a mask to project emotions on to people, which is pretty far from the whole "tearing into things with metal claws" on the "Methods of Attack" spectrum. And he tends to pop up only occasionally. He died, came back for Blackest Night, then died again, so he's certainly destructible. Still, if you're going to have something fight Wolverine, feeding on angst is probably not a terrible way to go. I'd give it to the Pirates, but then I have to mention that the character I've been using to push for them looks like this.


Who designed that? Tim Gunn would have them jailed. Also, Tim Gunn has standing to jail people, and I've just worked in references to Marvel, DC and Project Runway in a mascot bracket post. Michigan advances.

#12 Memphis Tigers vs. #13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

I'm not sure whether either Memphis is particularly habitable for tigers. I guess Memphis, Tennessee is probably fine, but the ancient Egyptian capital for which it's named is probably not all that hospitable for jungle cats. For that matter, Oakland is pretty well urbanized, and I can't imagine that a grizzly is going to be allowed to just saunter about. So I guess that's a wash. Which is all to say that it's hard to make a reasonable length entry for another Bear/Tiger matchup. Tigers probably have the advantage as far as speed is concerned, but I guess bears can run at 40 mph and they're 900 pounds. They're essentially monsters. Plus, Wikipedia has a photo of this sign in their entry on bears.


That's right. Bear Danger. The worst kind of danger. And the best kind of band name.
I'm going to have to go with the bears. Oakland advances.

#6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #14 Bucknell Bisons

As excited as I was over the Cincinnati Fighting Binturongs, I do have to recognize that "Bearcat" is probably a bit misleading in the direction of fierceness. The thing weighs like 30 pounds, which is big-ish for a small mammal, but Bison are over a ton. And they've got horns. And probably a little anger to get out after we killed most of them, which they might misdirect in the direction of the humble bearcat. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo step on binturongs.Bucknell advances

#10 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. #2 San Diego State Aztecs

And we're back to the whole "human vs. non-human" thing. I guess I should have defined the terms better straight away. I'd restrict the human mascots to having to fight barehanded, but then if a mountain lion's allowed to use its teeth, the human should probably be allowed to use its ability to make a spear to kill the mountain lion. Obviously, given the lack of Aztecs in central Pennsylvania, they probably don't have any direct experience in killing the wildlife on Mount Nittany, but I'm willing to bet they can figure it out. San Diego State advances.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - East, Round of 32

#16 UTSA Roadrunners vs. #9 George Mason Patriots

Given that the Roadrunners didn't so much gain entry to the second round because they're a viscious competitor but because they were fighting a nut. The Patriots almost certainly have some kind of firearm, and even if you're going to make some kind of "difficult to hit because it's a moving target" argument, I've got to think that the Patriots are going to have some sort of anti-Roadrunner strategic advantage. It's simply too much to overcome. George Mason advances.

#12 UAB Blazers vs. #13 Princeton Tigers

I was going to write something about how a dragon is basically a reptilian tiger with bigger claws and fire (and wings? Sure. Why not. It's not like it's a Balrog). But then the more I look at the matchup, the more this is evidently some manner of wuxia movie. I emailed Ang Lee to ask him what he thought, but he hasn't gotten back to me, so I'm going to have to go with the original analysis. Dragons would kill tigers more quickly than something that happens really quickly. UAB advances

#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #14 Indiana State Sycamores

Oh, Sycamores. Apparently, there are a number of trees called sycamores, but I'll assume this refers to the American Sycamore (given that Indiana State is not in either California or Arizona). It's a good shade tree, but I can only see that helping the musketeers, who might need to sit down after a long day of wearing jaunty hats and growing ridiculous facial hair. And once they're well rested, I imagine they've got a way to cut down the sycamore for firewood. So yeah. Xavier advances.

#7 Washington Huskies vs. #2 North Carolina Tar Heels

I was hoping that at the very least, I could have a dog beat a non-dog opponent to show that I really don't hate dogs, and I don't want to conjure up images of animal cruelty or allegations of specism by saying that the human mascots are going to triumph over the dog mascots, but there's not a lot of room to push here. The Tar Heels have the reach and the strategy to make up for the fact that the Huskies have more intimidating teeth. Plus, if you go with the "Isn't-Too-Concerned-About-The-Hail-of-Gunfire" definitions, I think I have to give it to the Tar Heels. North Carolina advances.

Friday, March 25, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket -Southeast, Round One, Part Two

#6 St. John's Red Storm vs. #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs

I've written before about how the idea of Jupiter has always been unnerving to me, primarily because of the Great Red Spot. I'm not an inclement weather kind of person. I like nice, moderate temperatures with some occasional rain but mostly clear skies. The idea of a storm larger than the planet I'm on doesn't sit well with me. The bulldogs, on the other hand, are bulldogs. There are approximately 80 other schools that have entered bulldogs into this tournament, and I don't see them advancing more readily against a giant meteorological event. St. John's advances.

#3 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #14 Wofford Terriers

I think I'm giving off the impression that I have something against dogs. I really, really don't. I like dogs. Dogs are awesome, and I wouldn't want to piss most of them off. Even the tiny, yippy ones. It's just that they're not very formidable when going up against something that lives in the mountains and has giant claws, and survives by killing things pretty much constantly. Most dogs I've known got their food by waiting for a bowl to be filled, not by ripping out anything's throat. I think. I hope. It'd be really odd to find out that most dogs I've known are actually much more capable than I'm giving them credit for. But if they are, they're doing a good job of hiding it, so I've got no choice but to go with the obvious result here. Brigham Young advances.

#7 UCLA Bruins vs. #10 Michigan State Spartans

On one hand, Spartans probably have some sort of armor and weapons and presumably some level of strategy-making ability, and even against bears, I've got to think they've got a fighting chance. On the other hand, bears are terrifying and as far as I know never became a tourist attraction for the Roman elite. Bears, on the other hand, were never narrated by David Wenham.


Though not Spartan, I have to believe that Gondor would have been fine against bears.

Michigan State advances.

#2 Florida Gators vs. #15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

The Gauchos were last year's Murphspot Mascot Bracket champions, and I've got a feeling they're going to be a force to be reckoned with again. Yeah, gators can eat you (and were inexplicably my alma mater's mascot, despite the fact that I don't think alligators are exactly thick on the ground in northwestern Pennsylvania), but I can't think that the whole "gator wrestling" thing would have become a thing if it weren't possible to outsmart them. Plus, a close look at the Gauchos mascot reveals he's possibly Meta Knight.

Separated at birth.

So we've got a reptile that eats puppies and a guy with probably a sword and bolas and a fantastic hat. UC Santa Barbara advances

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket -Southeast, Round One, Part One

#1 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #16 University of Arkansas - Little Rock Trojans

Panthers (or Pumas or Catamounts or Mountain Lions or whatever else that species is going by these days) are kind of intimidating on their face, but I'm tempted to dock them points for essentially sharing a mascot with Penn State. I just prefer a bit more variety in my mascot bracket. The fact is, every time I think of Panthers, I think of Pumas, which makes me think of The Pumaman.


When. You want. The flavor of bacon in a dip.

Granted, a good episode of MST3K, and if that were any justification for advancement in the mascot bracket, Pitt would be much better off. But I'm pretty sure that there isn't an Aztec named Vadinho to do all the actual fighting here, and the Trojans are armed. Probably. Right? I think they had arms. Yes. Anyway, UALR advances

#8 Butler Bulldogs vs. #9 Old Dominion Monarchs

I'm puzzled as to why a university in Norfolk is Monarchist, but I'm going to just go ahead and pretend that there's a subdivision of Norfolk that's been the one place in the nation that's held out since the Revolutionary War and absolutely refuses to acknowledge that fireworks shows are fun and that the obvious health concerns that should come to mind when considering hot dogs are better left ignored because that would get in the way of hilarious contests. We've already covered bulldogs, so all that's left is to determine whether the Monarchs are of the "capable of leading a nation into battle" variety or of the "languishing in their halls while the world moves on without them" variety. Oh, also, apparently my concepts of monarchs are based on whether Gandalf has convinced Theoden that he shouldn't be hiring guys named "Wormtongue" as advisors yet. To hell with it. The monarchs have a crown wearing lion, which can beat a bulldog. Old Dominion advances

#5 Kansas State Wildcats vs. #12 Utah State Aggies

An epic matchup for the ages between slightly more aggressive cats and agricultural students. I really have no idea how to make this one interesting. Some hacky jokes about who owns who in cat/person relationships? Wry comments about Utah that really aren't fair, given that I've never been there and that I like the people that I've met that are from there? I guess the agricultural students could do something about the cat's food supply. Or the Big Blue Bull that Utah State utilizes as a mascot would probably gore the poor thing. Either way, the Wildcats remain an unimpressive mascot, and Utah State advances

#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 Belmont Bruins

I'm led to believe that badgers will rip your face off. That's probably true. I'm not sure what I'd do if I encountered one in the wild. I have very little in the way of "wild animal encounter" knowledge. I'd like to think I'd fare well if I had to (for some reason) be in the wilderness suddenly, but that is a lie. I would be eaten pretty much instantly by anything that happened across me. Even the wildcats. But then, Belmont's got brown bears. Or Bobby Orr. Bears are even better at killing me, and Orr revolutionized how defensemen play the game. Either way, I don't see how I can give this to the Badgers. Sure, they'd kill me, but this isn't about me. This is about whether it would kill a bear, or Bobby Orr. It would not. Belmont advances.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket -Southwest, Round One, Part Two

#6 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #11 VCU Rams

I guess, if we're going to go with Mascots rather than team names, we've got to judge this on Jack the Bulldog and not an ill-defined team name (which may be part of a phrase which is a cross of Latin and Greek because apparently students in the 1890's were hipsters and neither classical language was, alone, obscure enough for them). Apparently "Hoya" is also Mayim Bialik's middle name so concievably this could be a matchup between Rams and Blossom. Even if we stick with Jack the Bulldog, I'm going to have to go with the size advantage the Ram's got, as well as the ridiculous horns. VCU advances.

#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #14 St. Peter's Peacocks

To be fair to the Peacocks, Purdue always puts up a pretty good fight in these mascot brackets, whether I'm defining them as steam-powered trains or simply the people who make the steam-powered trains. So the peacock is really overmatched. The fact that the school name is a possessive (and that these are St. Peter's peacocks) conjures up images of the Gates of Heaven guarded by trancendentally fancy birds which doesn't help it in this fight, but is pretty fantastic in its own right. Purdue advances.

#7 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles have to get points for actually getting permission to call their team the Seminoles. Plus, they appear to have a horse, which gets them the "actual live animal mascot" bonus and a spear, both of which probably aren't involved in basketball.


They also appear to have people who are lost and in khaki shorts. Which aren't an inappropriate mascot for Florida, actually.

The aggies are, I guess, agricultural school students. Which is unique, I guess, in that it's the only one of these mascots that's actually accurate. And they'd probably have a fighting chance if this were a "find a way to utilize modern farming techniques efficiently" contest. It's not. It's a fight to the death, and I'm going with the guy that has a spear over the guy that has some engineering texts. Florida State advances.

#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #15 Akron Zips
The zips have a kangaroo. With a statue.

And a McDonald's!

So there's that. I'm not sure how swift kangaroos are in the wild, and I'm not sure what kangaroos could have to do with the name "Zips", but I do know that the name originally referred to a brand of galoshes, which is awesome and something they should have stuck with. If this bracket broke down to "choose the thing that will let me avoid wet socks", Akron would win every year. Every. Year. They'd certainly do better against the Fighting Irish, who I'm going to say can take down a kangaroo. Are kangaroos hard to kill? I have no idea. Oh no. Maybe they're Terminators. Is that why the statue's metal? Have I underestimated the Kangaroo Threat? These are thoughts for another day when I'm less sleep deprived. Notre Dame advances

Saturday, March 19, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket -Southwest, Round One, Part One

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #16 Boston University Terriers

"A mythical cross between a blue jay and a sparrow hawk." Really? It seems like we're getting a little loose with what we're granting mythic status. "Oh, you know. Mythical. Like the Norse pantheon. Or King Arthur. Or the Jayhawks." It just seems like "fictional" works just as well there. Terriers, on the other hand, exist. But they're kind of difficult to get excited about in an imagined fight to the death. I know they've got a Boston Terrier pictured, but I can't keep myself from thinking that it's actually Eddie from Frasier that's going to be headed into battle here. Oddly, I think the edge goes to the Jayhawk. Maybe it can borrow Mjolnir for the fight.

#8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs. #9 Illinois Fighting Illini

Hey everyone! It's the politically uncomfortable mascot matchup! Actually, it turns out the Rebel thing comes from when UNLV emerged from the shadow of University of Nevada - Reno, which makes the whole thing seem a bit administrative. The Illini have been surrounded by controversy over their team name and mascot, and I'm not sure how to put the fact that they retired Chief Illiniwek in 2007 into the mascot bracket, leaving them with no actual mascot. I guess it defaults to UNLV. UNLV advances

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #12 Richmond Spiders

I guess if this were some sort of spider vs. small, gullible animal that would let a spider bite it matchup, there'd be some actual kind of battle here. Commodores, as far as I know, have both shoes and can potentially access a newspaper, so the Spider isn't going to stand much of a chance. Even if it's radioactive. Vanderbilt advances.

#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #13 Morehead State Eagles

Cardinals, so far as I know, aren't particularly agressive birds. I don't think they can be what with the bright colors and poofy head feather thing. which I believe is a scientific term. The most disturbing thing about the Louisville Cardinal is that he has teeth. Which is every nightmare I'm going to have from here on out. Eagles are birds of prey, as opposed to toothy abominations, so I'm going with the mascot that doesn't make me weep uncontrollably. Morehead State advances

Friday, March 18, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - West, Round One, Part Two

I should address the obvious fact that these are going up after the tournament has started. Mostly because I have a job, and getting up an entire bracket with a paragraph on each game is hard to do between Sunday and Thursday. Given that the mascot bracket has little to do with the actual tournament and that no one in their right mind should have been using this as a guide for filling out a bracket, we're just going to ignore the fact that most of it is going up after the start of things. Expediency isn't what the mascot bracket is about. It's about trying to figure out what kind of bear will beat what kind of tiger.

#6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #11 Missouri Tigers


Bonus points for having the best species name thus far in the tournament. Yes. The tiger is likely going to have an advantage in a straight out one on one brawl, but bearcats can, according to Wikipedia, be vicious when cornered and have a tendency to chuckle. Also, binturong musk smells like buttered popcorn. That sounds made up. Given that, I think it's entirely reasonable to ascribe magical powers to it. Also, the Bearcats remind me of The Bear Coat, which is fun. Am I being swayed by a preference for less common mascots so that I don't have a dozen Tiger/Tiger and Bear/Bear matchups? Possibly. If that bothers you, I invite you to do your own in depth writeup of the ridiculous concept of mascot brackets. Go on. I'll wait. Cincinnati advances.

#3 UConn Huskies vs. #14 Bucknell Bisons

I'm not sure what to make of the position of the right hoof of the Bucknell Bison. I think it's supposed to look as though it's charging, which it sort of does, but it also looks like it could be hunched over and writing an angry email to everyone it knows about Obama's birth certificate. Either way, I have to imagine that the Bison is going to be more than a match for a Husky, heterochromia notwithstanding. Bucknell advances.

#7 Temple Owls vs. #10 Penn State Nittany Lions

I'll have to admit that I like Penn State in a general sort of way, and I'll even allow "Nittany Lion" to be what it's meant as; a mountain lion that hangs out around Mount Nittany. According to the Wikipedia write-up, it even originates from a Mascot Bracket style matchup.

"The mascot was the creation of Penn State senior H. D. "Joe" Mason in 1907. While on a 1904 trip to Princeton University, Mason had been embarrassed that Penn State did not have a mascot. Mason did not let that deter him: he fabricated the Nittany Lion on the spot and proclaimed that it would easily defeat the Princeton Bengal tiger.[2] The Lion's primary means of attack against the Tiger would be its strong right arm, capable of slaying any foes (this is now traditionally exemplified through one-armed push-ups after the team scores a touchdown)."

Owls are fine too (even if they're not going to have a fighting chance against a mountain lion), but if you're doing a Mascot comparison in 1907, you're making it at least to the second round. Penn State advances.

#2 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #15 Northern Colorado Bears

I'm always amused to see what a mascot in a logo is doing with its limbs. As with the Memphis Tiger, I'm kind of puzzled here. Yeah, the Bear doing some sort of menacing swat at the person who's drawing him, but he also looks like there might be a turntable just off to his lower left. I can't tell. The Aztecs probably have had to deal with a few bears in the course of their existence (there used to be a Mexican Grizzly Bear, but it's extinct now so that's probably significant). And they're likely have weapons, so they'll be able to overtake DJ RAARRGHHHGHGHH. San Diego State advances.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - West, Round One, Part One

#16 Hampton Pirates vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils

Every year, Duke presents a problem as I'm not sure how to deal with the ambiguity. Are they a French military force? Flowers? DC Comics' stuntman-turned-actual demon Dan Cassidy? A jazz band? Penn Jillette? I can't tell. Pirates, at least the Buccaneer version shown in the logo, are at least sort of a known quantity. They've got cutlasses and firearms and crippling alcoholism and dozens of diseases. I'm pretty sure they could handle the flowers or the jazz band (depending on the band, I guess; none of the bands I was in would have stood a chance), but they might have a harder time with an organized military unit or a blue guy with a healing factor. Given the confusion, and the fact that a lot of those diseases can be pretty nasty, we're going with the Pirates. Hampton advances.

#8 Michigan Wolverines vs. #9 Tennessee Volunteers

I know that the Volunteers they're referring to are military recruits from the wars we tended to get into in the 19th century, but as hard as I try, I can't make myself see anything but a crazed but idealistic 23 year old armed with canned goods and those hard plastic cafeteria trays from the nursing home. I guess they could have a nail gun or be guided by Jimmy Carter, but overall it's not a terribly threatening image.

Actually, it kind of is. Stone cold.

Wolverines, on the other hand, are crazy little bastards that will rip your face off. They don't even care about time spent with the Peace Corps. Sure, they're dicks, but that's not what matters. What matters is that they're going to terrorize the ideals out of their opponent, leaving him or her a shell of good intentions and tool belts. Michigan advances.

#5 Arizona Wildcats vs. #12 Memphis Tigers

We've already had this matchup, so it should be pretty obvious how it's going to go, no matter how ridiculous the "pounce" pose that the Memphis tiger seems to be stuck in is. Apparently, Memphis has a live mascot (which the website calls TOM III, all caps, which makes me think he might be a robot) who the University insists gets world-class care. I don't have any reason to think that's not the case, and so I'm left with the idea of a 600 pound cat going up against my cat, who has been sleeping since I got home from work. Memphis advances.

#4 Texas Longhorns vs. #13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

As opposed to the "Golden Eagles", I don't think "Golden Grizzly" is a real bear. For some reason, and I'm not sure why, it makes me think that it's going to be advertising cereal. Still, if we just presume a golden grizzly is like a normal grizzly, it's basically a giant killing machine. Majestic, sure, but not something you want to go right up next to on the off chance that it'll want to hang out. Longhorns have those giant horns, and they get bonus points for being a real thing, I guess, so they could impale the bear before it got close enough to rip it to pieces, but they just seem really unwieldy. Not that I'm going to go around messing with Longhorns. It's just that in the cold, cruel world of the Mascot Bracket, "awesome but potentially unwieldy" loses to "giant claws of death". Oakland advances.

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - East, Round One, Part Two

#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #11 Marquette Golden Eagles

Good on Marquette for picking a specific eagle and not having it be the Bald Eagle. Bald eagles are great and all, but I would have taken it as a blatant attempt to win the Murphspot Mascot Bracket through an appeal to patriotism. I'm sure Golden Eagles are as majestic as you get without fashioning a teensy crown and scepter and somehow convincing a bird to carry it. Wikipedia claims they eat not only rabbits and squirrels, but mountain goats(!) and deer (!!). I can't imagine John Darnielle is too pleased with this. But in the end, Xavier's mascot is defined by the concept that he's armed and though my shooting things out of the sky experience is terribly limited, I can't imagine that this one's going to end in the eagle's favor.

Xavier advances.

#3 Syracuse Orange vs. #14 Indiana Sycamores



Actually, reading into it, the mascot situation at Indiana State is more interesting than I would have thought at first glance. They were evidently the "Fighting Teachers" early in the school's history, which would be actually politically relevant if Indiana State were in Wisconsin. The students then voted to change it to "Sycamores", possibly as a joke. They kept using the tree as a mascot for a while, then changed it to Chief Quabachi and his Princess, both because a tree isn't ferocious (and thus would not win the Murphspot Mascot Bracket) and because "Quabachi" is potentially worth 102 points in Scrabble (not counting 50 points if it's played as a bingo). They stopped using Chief Quabachi and Princess (I can't find a name for her) in 1989, then chose "Sycamore Sam" who appears to be a blue fox, but Wikipedia calls him a "blue furry woodland creature". So I don't know. Syracuse is just named after a color and uses an anthropomophic orange, which would either be eaten by the "woodland creature" or ignored by the tree until it rotted. Either way, Indiana State advances.

#7 Washington Huskies vs. #10 Georgia Bulldogs

Given that dog fighting is a real thing, I'm feeling some trepidation about how to figure this one out, so I'll just temporarily dispense with the "which mascot would kill the other" and focus on their attributes. Huskies tend to be associated with cold climates (+1 for toughness, but -1 for reminding me that I'm in Chicago and that spring will evidently never come), but they're good if your antitoxin needs to get to Nome, and they have that heterochromia thing. Bulldogs are solidly built, but tend to suffer from hip dysplasia and will not drag a guy in a sled across barren stretches of Alaska.
Washington advances.

#2 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #15 Long Island Blackbirds

I'm not sure if it's a positive thing or a negative if your team name makes me think of Paul McCartney. I think that's not good. If you want to progress in the mascot bracket, you should inspire fear. Well, fear that you could hurt me, not fear that you'll make me listen to the incomprehensible parts of the White Album and then pick through my trash.

Still, if "Tar Heel" simply means "North Carolinian", then I'm not sure how this is going to be much of a fight. I'm not sure how many people I know from North Carolina, but I'm pretty sure they'd be able to take care of a small bird, no matter how much a giant anthropomorphic representation is imploring them to bring it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - East, Round One, Part One

#16 UTSA Roadrunners vs. #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

These mascot brackets would have a better chance at not being irredeemably wrong every time if Ohio State had the decency to be bad every once in a while. Yeah, Aesculus Glabra has poisonous fruit and anything called a "fetid buckeye" is enough to make me question the wisdom of going straight after it, but cartoons have led me to believe that roadrunners generally know what's up and wouldn't rush in to eat the thing.

Besides, if your entire method for killing your opponent is "hope it eats me", you're not doing so well. Sorry Ohio State, UTSA advances.

#9 Villanova Wildcats vs. #8 George Mason Patriots

I've discussed at length how overrated Wildcats are in terms of mascot ferocity in previous years, and I'd like to get over it (partly, of course, I'd like to see Northwestern do well in the event they ever make the tournament), but it's honestly kind of a high hurdle to clear. Wildcats (F. Silvestris) are barely different than housecats. And housecats are pushovers. The most I've seen Boris attack successfully was a shoestring.

Which Patriots we're referring to here aren't well defined, but just because it's fun to make this as lopsided as possible, let's presume we've got the following matchup. European Wildcat vs. MIM-104 Patriot.



You could say that cats don't fly, so using a surface-to-air missle isn't going to be effective, but by the time you did that, I'd have moved on to the next matchup. George Mason advances.

#5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #12 UAB Blazers

West Virginia gets a bad deal in the public relations department, honestly. I've known several people from West Virginia and went there often as a kid and have very little negative to say about the experience. They're potentially fellow Pirates fans, so I can't slam them too much, which is why I'm not going to make a crack about West Virginians being unfamiliar with what a blazer is. Mountaineers, I guess, would be denizens of the Appalachian Mountains (which I'm a fan of, in my limited experience of "occasionaly driving through them), but that doesn't help the fact that Blaze is still a freaking dragon, and he's going to be hard to bring down.

Maybe they'll eventually run into some knights or something. For the time being, UAB advances.

#4 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #13 Princeton Tigers

As far as matchups go, there's not much to say when one mascot is a larger, more deadly version of the other mascot. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I'm not as familiar with Ivy League mascots as I should be (I guess?). Dartmouth's apparently got an unofficial mascot called "Keggy the Keg", which is refreshing and whimsical. But all I've got to go on is the matchup I'm presented with, and it's barely a fight. Princeton advances.

Monday, March 14, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - First Four

Oh dear. It's time for the Murphspot Mascot Bracket again. For those of you who weren't here the last time this nonsense happened, it's not that difficult, really. I'm going to take the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship bracket (that is, the March Madness bracket) and fill it out by comparing the relative merits of the mascots of each team. Rather than, say, their ability to be good at basketball. Ideally, each of these is going to be the answer to the question "which one of these would win in a fight to the death", with the caveat that if we run into abstract team names, teams without mascots that I can find within a very short time or any other kind of nonsense, I reserve the right to make things up.

This is supposed to be somewhere in the realm of humor. Please do not enter a March Madness pool with this bracket. You will lose. It would be hilarious.

So! To start things off: The Play In Round. Or the "First Four" if you want to go with the NCAA's marketing.

#16 University of North Carolina Asheville Bulldogs vs. #16 University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans


Bulldogs are one of those mascots that are used by a lot of schools, and I'm not entirely positive why. They're (from what I can tell; I haven't spent much time around bulldogs) tenacious little things, and they're pretty solidly built, and "bulldog" is easier to fit onto merchandise than, say, the University of North Carolina-Asheville Bernese Mountain Dogs. The latter doesn't really roll off the tongue, even though they're basically a bear (or "bear sized" at least. Perhaps "Large enough to make Ryan think there's a bear in the room, which is distressing". That's probably it.)

Trojans, of course, have the unfortunate fate of conjuring up images of condoms and military forces that can be fooled by giant wooden horses. It's funny, actually, how often throughout history giant wooden animals that are big enough to contain a small strike team have been pivotal in military conflicts.

(They haven't. It was just that one time.)

Still, I have to imagine the University of Arkansas - Little Rock Trojan has a sword or shield or some kind of weapon, and if I'm going to link it to prophylactics, I should also note that Trojan Records is pretty awesome, and having Trojans as a mascot this early gives me an excuse to post a link to Toots and the Maytals. That's enough to clinch it. UALR advances.

#12 University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers vs. #12 Clemson Tigers


I was momentarily kind of worried that UAB was somehow employing sportcoats into a ridiculous yachting mascot (yachting? regattaful? I have no idea what the proper term is). But no. They went the awesome route and employed a goddamn dragon. Named Blaze. Which actually increases the odds he's wearing a sportcoat.

Clemson's got a tiger, which would usually be pretty fierce, but as far as I know, it's not a tiger that breathes fire or guards a hoard of treasure at the Lonely Mountain. And even the logo isn't a tiger, but rather the proof that the tiger has recently been here.

It probably isn't here any more because it's running from the fashionable dragon. UAB advances

#16 University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners vs. #16 Alabama State Hornets


Good on UTSA for not using the obvious preexisting character and coming up with their own logo. Oregon, take notes. Plus, Geococcyx is one of the better genus names out there. Hornets, on the other hand are annoying if you come across them unexpectedly and don't have a can of Raid on hand. Otherwise, they're not that intimidating. Add in that, evidently, roadrunners eat insects. I could probably make up something to make this more competitive, but this is about integrity, damn it. UTSA advances.

#11 USC Trojans vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams


Trojans, again? Already? We've just started and we're already getting repetitive with our mascots. Rams, on the other hand, have awesome horns and are "uncastrated male sheep" which means, to me at least, that they know enough about how to fight humans that they were able to keep the guy with the scissors at bay. They're not horses, obviously, but I really think the whole "hide in a giant wooden cart that we wheel in to the city" would have worked whether the ungulate they used were odd or even-toed. I just don't have that much faith in the Trojans. VCU advances.