#9 Missouri Tigers vs. #5 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Truman looks like he wants nothing more than to make others happy.
It's admirable, if not entirely suitable for the ruthless confines of the mascot bracket. He's matched up with Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State this round, who looks like a bowlegged version of Kurt Russell in Tombstone.
I'm pretty pro-mustache within reason, and I'm willing to buy that the bow-legged thing isn't much of an issue because he's primarly going to be doing this from the back of a horse, but there's the small matter of Pistol Pete being terrifying.
I get big-headed mascots; they're easier to see from a distance, they're recognizable and it's a lot easier to tell whether you've got a vigilante mascot in the form of someone who has decided to take cheer and merriment into their own hands and run around dressed up as a Fightin' Astrophysicist or whatever the hell. But if you're going to do a big-headed mascot, it's imperative that he doesn't make grown men cry.
Pistol Pete looks a little like he's melting. I mean, I imagine it gets pretty warm in Stillwater, but if that's the case, you probably shouldn't make your hat out of polyethylene. His eyes are deep set enough that it feels an awful lot like Pistol Pete has a mask on like he's about to either rob a bank or appear in a "Silence of the Lambs" sequel.
I'm also not sure whether his six-shooters are going to be capable of taking down a tiger. I have no idea what sort of firearm one uses to kill a tiger, because I've resigned myself to the idea that if it's me and a tiger, the tiger is going to win.
And so it happens here as well.
#6 Memphis Tigers vs. #7 Cincinnati Bearcats
This is turning out to be pretty tiger-heavy. The further this mascot bracket goes on, the more it becomes just things I'm personally pretty sure could kill me.
That's not to disparage binturongs. I'm pretty sure a binturong could kill me. It probably wouldn't even have to try all that hard; I certainly don't have a prehensile tail or a sweet set-up at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Beyond that, the Bearcat mascot (somewhat uninspiringly named "The Bearcat") has a weirdly Dali-esque moustache. So he's probably got the leg up on surrealism. But he's still mostly going to hang out in trees, smell like popcorn and eat plantains.
Memphis, on the other hand, has their mascot leaping over an M-shaped enclosure to apparently strangle his prey.
As I said, this is turning into what frightens me personally. And a tiger who could potentially have the self-restraint to strangle its prey before tearing it to pieces is pretty high up there. In the end, we are all just little red laser pointer dots in the eyes of Pouncer.
#16 Southern Jaguars vs. #13 La Salle Explorers
I'm sure there's some sort of endangered species narrative here. LaCumba's no pushover, as he's made it to the Mascot Sweet sixteen, but it probably says something that he's in a cage, which I assume is the result of some bumbling explorer making his way into his habitat, sawing down a bunch of LaCumba's cover and throwing a net over him.
The Explorer is sort of enigmatic, in the sense that I can't seem to find a name for him or a list of the grooming products he uses on that magnificent moustache. He looks like Sam Elliott if he were a Union officer.
An actual Sam Elliott Mascot would win this thing every year.
Has Sam Elliott ever played a Union officer? Of course he has.
I don't know about the Explorer leading cavalry against the Jaguars, but the Explorer never just explores. He explores, then reports back and shows up again with a team with bulldozers and plans for a strip mall.
La Salle advances.
#11 Belmont Bruins vs. #15 Iona Gaels
Killian has enjoyed a good run, primarily because I'm trying to keep him happy so that he doesn't show up, smiling and silent, in the alleyway behind my apartment building when I'm going to take the garbage out.
He's got a look on his face that suggests he liked A Clockwork Orange a little too intensely, and that's largely why he's here. But I'm not really sure whether a being named "Bruiser the Bruin" is going to be intimidated. Killian's got a rough wooden walking stick/shillelagh, but if you try to hit a bear with a piece of wood, it's probably not going to end well for you.
It turns out things are pretty good if you're a Bruin. You've got the advantage of being a 1500 pound killing machine, you get to hibernate for months on end if you feel like it and, if you are very, very patient, Jaromir Jagr will show up to help you out.
The man has now played for a full 20% of the NHL.
As much as I've got a visceral reaction against the words "Jagr" and "Bruin" appearing in the same post, some things have to be set aside for the sake of the Mascot Bracket.