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.