#16 North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. #16 Liberty Flames
I'm not sure what the bulldog is doing here. I'm assuming the intended imagery is that he's leaping at you, but I don't know how many bulldogs attack by lunging with their front paws. It's possible the back half of the image involves the remains of Durin's Bridge and an either winged or wingless Balrog depending on which side of that argument you come down on falling to the depths below while the Noble Bulldog tells Frodo et al. run to elsewhere in Greensboro. The Liberty Flames on the other hand, have a nickname that sounds like what William Tecumseh Sherman would have called his particular brand of burning everything in sight down if he'd been trying to be message-conscious. Their mascot is an eagle named Sparky, which is precious. Based on the most recent reboots of Oregon Trail, I'm thinking an eagle could probably carry away a dog. Even if that dog has a spiked collar.
Liberty University advances. And that's a sentence I'd never thought I'd type.
#11 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. #11 St. Mary's Gaels
As discussed previously, the Saint Mary's Gaels mascot is an apparently inflatable knight named Gael Force One. I'm going to assume this is some sort of commentary on the helium crisis.
Gael Force One is non-renewable and could be lost to us forever if he escapes the atmosphere.
For the purposes of the bracket, I'll assume that his Mylar balloon qualities are a red herring and that he is, in fact, some manner of knight. He's going up against an improbably blue horse named Lightning. That seems tame enough, but their original mascot was Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Having your mascot be the founder of the Klan finally was realized to be a bad idea in the 70's, and they eventually settled on Forrest's horse as a replacement. Even extricating all of the politics, I'm going to have to say a knight could take down a horse if only because if horses could organize and kill knights, they'd have done that by now.
St. Mary's advances.
#16 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds vs. #16 James Madison Dukes
Ok. So, I'm starting to get bulldogs as a mascot; they're presumably tenacious and angry and have fun jowls that work well in the cartoony style of mascot drawing. And I get that studded collars are a thing that's usually going to accompany the cartoon bulldog mascot. But what is going on here? I'll give Duke Dog the benefit of the doubt and assume that's the appropriate attire for him in the Duchy of Harrisonburg, Virginia, but it's still going to throw me off.
The blackbird has the Beatles (well, Paul, anyway) and apparently was sacred in Classical Greek folklore, but they're also at risk of being baked in a pie and their main predator is the domestic cat, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. I've got a cat. I've seen the cat hunt and kill feathered cat dancers and it's pretty ferocious, but if the blackbird can't stand up to that, it's got no chance against nobility.
James Madison advances.
#13 Boise State Broncos vs. #13 La Salle Explorers
So there's that.
On the other hand, we've got a battle between another blue horse and a man with a feather in his hat, a Van Dyke and a telescope. At the very least, the Explorer is going to have some advanced warning of the oncoming Bronco. Presumably he's got some surveying gear which is probably pretty pointy. Buster Bronco, on the other hand, has disturbingly human eyes.
No, it's fine. I was done with REM-sleep for the rest of my life anyway.
Broncos are feral horses, and just so that I can stop looking deep into the soul of Buster there, I'm going to assume that somewhere in the training to explore there's some manner of training on "how to tame a horse." I mean, hell, it took five or so minutes in Red Dead Redemption, and that's pretty much reality, right? Right.
La Salle advances.