#1 Wichita State Shockers vs. #16 Texas Southern Tigers
WuShock is one of those really weird mascots that I never know what to do with. Wheat isn't threatening, per se, but I have very, very little experience with Wheat Elementals.
Sure, I guess.
I have, however, just confirmed that there don't seem to be any Magic: The Gathering cards that use a Wheat Elemental (or wheat anything, really), which I assume is just a gross oversight by Wizards of the Coast.
The thing is, I don't see the Tigers being much of a threat to the wheat; sure, it can use it for cover, but that only works if there's some other enemy. As near as I can tell, the Tigers will keep trying to pounce at nothing and always failing, while the Wheat abides.
Wichita State advances.
#8 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #9 Kansas State Wildcats
ARE YOU SERIOUS WITH THIS.
Ok. NCAA. Here's the thing.
I am over Wildcats. I am completely over them. It's difficult to come up with any sort of actual mascot fight because there are only so many ways I can repeat that these are bobcats or similar at best, and probably they're just cats in the desert being cats.
It'd be one thing if there could be a climactic match between a Wildcat and some sort of rodent mascot, but it's just Wildcats as far as the eye can see.
I don't know. Let's give it to Kansas State purely based on head size and move on with our day.
Proportions are not a thing at Kansas State.
Kansas State advances.
#5 Saint Louis Billikens vs. #12 North Carolina State Wolfpack
See? We don't have to be locked into innumerable iterations of the same damned cat. We can invent completely new mascots that make no sense to anyone outside of turn of the twentieth century schoolteachers in St. Louis.
Sure, NC State has the wolfpack, but given the sailor hat on Mr. Wuf, I'm not entirely convinced he is going to even Wolf properly, and that's before we get into whatever kind of sorcery comes along with being a Billiken.
There's probably some sorcery. Has to be.
Saint Louis advances.
#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #13 Manhattan Jaspers
Manhattan seems to have more of a namesake than an actual mascot which, in a sense, is what Harvard's trying to pull off with the occasional trotting-out of a big poofy-headed John Harvard. There's probably some significance to both examples being clergymen.
Unlike John Harvard, it turns out that Brother Jasper of Mary has a not-completely-out-there claim to being the guy who invented the seventh-inning stretch. As a fan of watching baseball, but also a fan of my own circulation, he gets points for that. He's also indirectly responsible for having celebrities (mostly minor) scream off-key into a microphone at Wrigley, but I won't hold that against him.
Anthropomorphic-seed-eating-bird or no, I'm thinking being armed with a bat works out in Jasper's favor.
#6 Massachusetts Minutemen vs. #11 Iowa Hawkeyes
It's like a perpetual "How you doin'?"
I've already had the Hawkeyes beat a local militia, and so precedence should hold here, and it'd be unfair to Vols fans to suddenly turn it around and say the local militia with less accurate arms would succeed where they've failed.
In fact, on the topic of accuracy, if we just make this about Hawkeye, a skilled archer but otherwise normal guy, fighting the Minutemen (that is, the in-story-Golden-Age set of characters from Watchmen), this becomes a lot easier. Hawkeye's probably going to pick them off while they brood about the nature of existence as superheroes.
#3 Duke Blue Devils vs. #14 Mercer Bears
You know what, fine. I'll allow that the Blue Devils are at once some sort of demon who is allowed to run around with a trident despite having no apparent interest in spear-fishing and a reference to a World War I French military unit. I might prefer it if they were the Blue Demons and each player had to wear a luchador mask, but I think I'll just have to wait for DePaul to make a tournament appearance.
Toby Bear gets some points for actually looking like the sort of thing that would tear my arm off despite being named Toby, but I'm guessing Les Diables Bleus have the weapons to take care of that.
Sorry, Toby. Also, please don't tear my arms off.
#7 Texas Longhorns vs. #10 Arizona State Sun Devils
I don't know much about Sparky in particular or what constitutes a Sun Devil in general. Is it mostly about the pitchfork, or are supernatural powers fair game? If the latter, do they have to involve the sun? Sparky might have the power to swap out your sunscreen for something that offers considerably less protection.
As for the Longhorns, I am sure they're dangerous. And I am positive that it could kill me, much like pretty much everything in the bracket that isn't Otto the Orange. But in the end, it's a cow.
Arizona State advances.
#2 Michigan Wolverines vs. #15 Wofford Terriers
Oh hey, it's time for my daily "No, honestly, I have nothing against dogs. I don't know why they lose immediately all the time" post.
I know terriers. They're great. Boston terriers are great, which is what Wofford's mascot is. But they're terriers. You never see something like a mastiff as a mascot, which might make me think about this for a second.
I'm sorry, Wofford. There's no way.