#16 Southern University Jaguars vs. #8 Pittsburgh Panthers
If you look into the origins of ROC the Panther, the Pittsburgh mascot, you run into a list of the reasons for his selection.
Good reasons to select something as your mascot include "roamed around the hills of Pittsburgh making sure the deer population stayed in check in an era before camouflage pants" and "vague allusions to heraldry". Less good reasons include "Well, we're looking for something in sort of a dull gold to go with all of the paint we can't return, and panthers are sort of gold-ish".
That aside, ROC is pretty standard, provided whoever's inside the suit remembers to tuck in what otherwise appears to be a lot of excess neck fur.
If you could tuck your neck flap in and put some damn clothes on, we'd all be more comfortable.
LaCumba is another live mascot, but I'd like to highlight the logo specifically.
This is a big cat that, as discussed previously, will bite through your skull and into your brain. And he's smiling maniacally.
Also, he's not made out of foam rubber.
#5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 La Salle Explorers
Badgers are vicious little things, and Bucky Badger specifically seems to be pretty cocky about this whole ordeal. I take the fact that he's showing up for this in a sweater to either mean that he's confident in his ability to compete without risking damage to the sweater or that he's chilly.
It's to the badger's credit that it looks like a angry terrestrial bat either when it's trying to intimidate a possible threat or potentially always. I've never chosen to get close enough to a screaming badger to find out if that's just it's natural state.
It is, however, pretty awful at selling drugs.
I need Breaking Bad to come back. Immediately.
La Salle the Explorer is confounding. Mostly because I'd assumed he was named for the La Salle who actually explored (René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle), but the college itself is named for St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and apparently I'm not as solid as I thought I was on the differences between 17th century French clergymen.
I could see the Explorer being briefly confounded by the badger, and the badger might get a few bites in, but in the end I just can't see this going Bucky's way.
There's too much mustache.
La Salle advances.
#11 Belmont Bruins vs. #3 New Mexico Lobos
Setting aside Lobo Louie's tongue for a second, a wolf is a pretty reasonable mascot for this sort of thing. They're pack animals, so there's reinforcement of the team dynamic imagery that I imagine they're going for.
Singer-songwriter Lobo is probably not the sort of imagery they're going for.
In any case, it turns out that the Lobos keep experimenting with bringing a live wolf to games. Live mascots can be done well, particularly if it's some sort of domesticated animal. Even an apex predator can serve as a live mascot, provided it's safely contained (like LaCumba from Southern University or LSU's Mike the Tiger, who has a pretty awesome habitat behind the stadium). But, as it turns out, if you bring a live wolf to games, it will bite people. The original Lobo Louie bit a kid at a basketball game because kids think teasing live wolves is a good idea; a replacement Louie bit a football player who fell out of bounds in 1989. And yet they keep doing it. Unfortunately, Lobo Louie isn't in a matchup against "University Sports Event Attendee".
What the hell are you thinking.
Bruiser the Bruin, on the other hand, is named Bruiser and has a few hundred pounds on Lobo Louie, so while he's not going to escape this unscathed, he clearly comes out ahead.
#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #15 Iona Gaels
We've somehow managed to wind up with two Irish Catholic mascots in this round.
For the Fighting Irish, we have a mythological creature that Wikipedia claims without citation is meant to sort of resemble the actual landmass of Ireland.
I'm not entirely sold, but maybe? I guess. If you discount the arms and legs.It would potentially sort of explain the coattails.
He's also got that shillelagh, so he's got a fighting chance simply because he's got a weapon.
Killian, on the other hand is a non-mythological Gael, in the sense that the Gaels existed. He is mythological in that I'm pretty sure he's an avatar of The Corinthian from the Sandman series and exists purely to terrify me in my sleep and drive me into madness.
I'm sorry, Leprechaun. I'd like to give this one to you, but Killian eats myths and violent stereotypes for breakfast. I'd describe what else he eats for breakfast, but my readers would never stop screaming.