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.
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.