#9 Missouri Tigers vs. #6 Memphis Tigers
The most disappointing moment in writing this bracket to date has been discovering that "Tiger Battle" isn't a prog-rock band that already exists. We are, as a culture, missing out on some amazing album covers.
But this isn't about that. This is about Truman and Pouncer and who would win in a fight to the death.
And while they're both tigers, there's not much of a challenge here. Truman looks overly earnest, sure, but he could at least earnestly disembowel his opponents. Pouncer, on the other hand, looks like something named "Pouncer". He's overly adorable, which I think harms him in situations where he's going to have to fight to the death.
I should mention that Memphis does have a live tiger who would presumably tear the student out of Truman, while Missouri does not though apparently some students are trying to make that happen. I still don't think that makes up for how aggressively adorable Pouncer is. He seems like he'd be way more concerned about belly rubs than fighting for his life.
To underscore this, it turns out there's also a Beanie Baby named Pouncer. You do not get into the Final Four if you're a Beanie Baby. That's a new rule.
#13 La Salle Explorers vs. #11 Belmont Bruins
Bruiser the Bruin is sort of ahead of the curve as far as mascots modeled after ferocious animals while still remaining moderately kid-friendly in that he's not feasting on entrails on game day. He's got an actively violent name (though, honestly, if I'm being attacked by a bear, bruising is not very high on my list of Injuries I'm Concerned About).
He's also got at least a bit of an intimidating visage. It's the brow; he looks like he might actually be pissed off enough to do something to his opponent.
The Explorer probably has some manner of weaponry (probably even firearms, given the uniform), but he's also spending most of his time trying to stay alive long enough to make it over the mountain range without the entire party developing cholera or breaking the wagon axle or sinking the damned wagon into the river.
You know what? Missouri's very nice. Let's just stay in Missouri.
And if Sid Meier's Civilization has taught me anything, it's that your scouts are probably going to wind up getting attacked by whatever half-trained military your opponents feel like throwing out there. Sure, you subsequently wipe them from the face of the earth, but the scout isn't helping with that.
#16Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #7San Diego State Aztecs
This is the furthest Big Red has made it in the Mascot Bracket, partly because until now he'd been fine with being more of a benevolent entity who chose to allow the other mascots to take a shot at the championship. So in most other years, things would be looking up for the Aztecs.
The Aztec has a variety of weapons, a shield and presumably a puma medallion that scares the hell out of Donald Pleasance.
Short Note: Donald Pleasance now controls your mind. Sorry.
Maybe it's that Big Red is channeling his Italian TV Knock-Off Gabibbo, which gives him not only his standard "minor deity of destruction and despair" abilities, but also those of a wacky naval officer with an improbable mustache. Or maybe it's the strategic advantage of being on a hilltop.
Or maybe he's just been too nice for too long. In any case, the Aztecs aren't able to mount a defense against Big Red's giant head and shin guards.
Western Kentucky advances.
#5 UNLV Rebels vs. #15 Pacific Tigers
Power Cat has had a pretty good run. It's the first time the University of the Pacific has been represented in the Murphspot Mascot bracket, and the fact that he's named like an alternate universe Justice Society member has been helpful.
They already let Ted Grant hang around. They seem like they're fine with cats.
It's ok. You've done well. There's a great early-bird special you should really check out.