#1 Louisville Cardinals vs. #9 Missouri Tigers
Truman the Tiger looks really, really earnest. I feel like he's just this side of putting on a bake sale to help raise money for research into a disease which is typically underfunded (maybe some sort of tropical parasite that hits particularly close to home given his natural habitat) and winds up not only making legendary peach cobbler but raises enough to open a clinic in Bangladesh. All without opposable thumbs.
Or maybe that's just a facade and he'd spend all of the money on his ridiculous Vespa collection and then maul everyone who showed up to support him.
I don't know what kind of horrible genetic engineering program they've got over at Louisville, but it's going to keep me up at night. I'm not sure if it's more unsettling that Cardinal Bird has teeth or that he seems to be unable to stop scowling. Maybe that's not physical, though. Maybe he's had a pretty tough life, and I shouldn't be judging his harsh exterior.
Or maybe he realizes he's a songbird about to fight a freaking tiger. No way that ends well.
#5 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #13 New Mexico State Aggies
I'm not sure why these guys would be fighting. It seems like the development of agricultural technology would go hand in hand with raising and rearing livestock, but the Mascot Bracket makes demands and we must all abide by them.
The thing is, not only are both of these mascots some manner of cowboy (and so would likely be equipped with roughly the same arsenal, as well as similar experiences and tactics), they're both named Pistol Pete. How have we as a country allowed that to happen for as long as it has? They both derive from the same guy, Frank Eaton, largely because New Mexico State straight up copied the concept from Oklahoma State.
I'm elated that the guy's actual mustache lives up to the hype.
What on earth has been happening with my tax dollars? I assumed that we were still funding Mascot Research and Development and that regular advances in the field had been being properly utilized. But if the end result is that all mascots will wind up being Pistol Pete, I think we really have to get someone in here to review some of these grants. This is absurd.
Based solely on seniority (and the idea that the older Pete would have had more experience and may be better prepared), I'm going to have to give it to Orange Pistol Pete.
Oklahoma State advances.
#6 Memphis Tigers vs. #14 Valparaiso Crusaders
I don't know a lot about tigers. I don't know that I've ever pretended to, but in case that's unclear, I am absolutely not some sort of tiger biologist.
Because if I were a tiger biologist, I would print that on business cards and hand one to every single person. I would basically never shut up about it.
But even though I'm regrettably not some sort of tiger expert, I'm pretty sure Tigers don't have lovely eyelashes. It has the effect of making him look both a little too human and constantly surprised. Normally, these mascots are cartoonish enough that I don't find them disturbing. While Pouncer is certainly cartoonish, it feels like he's staring at me a bit too steadily.
"You sleeping yet? No? That's ok. I'll wait. Just let your guard down. It's fine."
I need him to blink. He's not going to blink, but I would like him to blink and get the hell away from me.
The Valparaiso Crusader, I'm guessing, is mostly built to match up well against other human-themed mascots. That armor is probably sort of "sword/mace/spear" optimized, and I'm not sure if it provides any protection against tiger attacks. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he's a Crusader from an alternate universe where Kevlar existed in time for him to use it, but then I've got to apply those rules to the rest of the bracket, right? It's obviously not the real world, but we've got to have some order here or nothing is ever going to get done.
In over his helm.
Verdict: Crusader's training has probably mostly been in aggressive inter-personal warfare with a gap in his training on how to deal with the fauna of the subcontinent.
#7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #15 Albany Great Danes.
This is basically an anger machine.
I've never known any bearcats, but I have watched a bunch of bearcat youtube videos because this is what I do with my time. And I really, really didn't know how big they are.