#9 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #13 Valparaiso Crusaders
|The face of courage. Or hunger? I don't know. Something, probably, but it's underneath a helmet. |
Let's go with "mild irritation."
So in the battle between Purdue Pete and Crusader Pete, I'm a little hesitant to go with the "One was from an era before rail transport, and so would have no idea how to stop the Boilermaker Special" rationale again. If anything, I could see The Crusader valiantly charging at the train like Don Quixote toward a windmill, heaving his shield at it and accidentally causing a terrible derailment. I think the Crusader wins not by brute force or by ingenuity, but by sheer luck.
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #7 Wichita State Shockers
Oh hey, a game that's actually happening and that I'll get a post up about before it actually happens.
So we've got two magical creatures here. The Leprechaun, one assumes, has the power of guarding some gold and appearing in a series of increasingly ridiculous horror movies, mostly direct-to-video, which I guess had the benefit of keeping Warwick Davis employed through the 90's.
|I don't even want to know if this makes sense in context.|
The other is a Grain Being of immense potential, who uses his vaguely defined Grain Abilities to protect, I guess, the concept of agriculture. Maybe fields in general, regardless of their connection to agriculture. He's like Swamp Thing, if Swamp Thing were from the opposite of a swamp.
|I'm not sure Wheat Thing has the level of gravitas of Swamp Thing, mostly because it sounds like a snack chip.|
Wichita State advances.
#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #4 North Carolina Tar Heels
I never quite know what to do with team names that not only existed, but did so contemporaneously. Leaving aside the giant Ram Man for a second, North Carolina's connection to the naval industry (which is why the tar, apparently) had as important a role to play in the story of the nation in which a man can write a silly blog about basketball mascots as cowboys, though the latter get more press.
|Also, madness. They're very influential madness lobbyists.|
I presume this is the result of pressure from the Pistol Pete Coalition, an organization that works for increased coverage of Westerns and big, wide-brimmed hats.
The Tar Heels are tenacious, but the Cowboys resourceful and mustachioed. I'm afraid I'm drawn in again by the craftiness of the Orange Pete.
Oklahoma State advances.
#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #15 Texas Southern Tigers
Xavier usually does pretty well in the bracket, taking the Championship a few years back (which I imagine was celebrated throughout the Greater Cincinnati area). Here, though, I'm not so sure.
Musketeers definitely have a strategic and an armament advantage, but their experience was mostly used against the foes of the Ancien Régime. I'm not sure the Musketeers, who are either based in Cincinnati or, let's say, Strasbourg, would have all that much experience planning for a tiger.
|Though I should say, the Musketeer is a pretty strong contender for "Best Mascot Hat Plumage"|
Obviously, tigers can be taken down by gunfire, but given the slow reload time on a musket and the challenge of firing that first shot well while a tiger is running after you (even one as genial as the Texas Southern tiger), I'm not sure the Musketeer makes the shot in the first place, and the rest is a whirlwind of claws and teeth and orange fur.
Texas Southern advances.
#8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #12 Wyoming Cowboys
Mr. Wuf and associates greatest asset so far has been teamwork. While most schools have a type of animal, a sort of mythical figure or a variation on Pistol Pete, NC State's explicit invocation of the entire pack has been what has gotten them to the Sweet Mascot Sixteen. I presume Mr. Wuf to be their leader and representative.
The thing is that if there's one thing that Red Dead Redemption taught me, it's that occasionally cowboys are going to have to deal with some wolves going after the horses and non-player characters. Usually a whole bunch. And yes, sometimes they overwhelm everything and you have to ride off, abandoning whatever character you're supposed to be saving from the wolves, but in general, it's just not that much of an issue.
|Pictured: A man with two guns who has decided his best option here is a Bowie knife.|
#11 Dayton Flyers vs. #2 Virginia Cavaliers
I know that Ohio's very excited about the whole "Birthplace of Aviation" thing, in that the Wright Brothers and a number of astronauts and I have been very forthright in my appreciation of the cartoon villain that is the Flyers mascot. Rudy Flyer has got the sort of feel of having just escaped from an inexplicable forgotten Beatles movie, where he uses his biplane to wreak havoc. Maybe that's what Rubber Soul was about.
|Maybe he's the Narrator on Norwegian Wood?|
CavMan, though, is crafty. Between the hat and the cape and the general swashbuckling nature, I wouldn't put "hiding in a bale of hay until the Flyer has to refuel, then running him through with a sabre" out of his reach. CavMan is the hero we need.
#9 St. John's Red Storm vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.
Lumberjacks, as far as I know, are hardworking, hardy individuals who take their jobs seriously. The SFA Lumberjack in particular also seems to wield an axe with a face on it, which is either a sentient being in its own right (in which case it should be feared) or he's some kind of lunatic who draws faces on his tools (in which case he should be feared).
|If there's one thing I check for in the tools I use, it's that they're not distinctly angry.|
The thing though is that I'm fairly certain there are some OSHA guidelines that would prevent working in severe weather conditions, and I think the Red Storm qualifies as that. I'm pretty certain the old mariner's saying is something along the lines of "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at noon in a forest, sailors acknowledge that there is no way to save you and start reading up on when you last updated your life insurance policy".
St. John's advances.
#14 UAB Blazers vs. #15 North Dakota State Bison
The Bison have been coasting through on two basic premises. First, they've had a significant size advantage on their opponents for both prior fights. Second, their mascot is named Thundar and I just really, really need that to be the stage name of a bassist in literally any sort of band. If this were a Mascot Name Bracket, Thundar would win the next three years in a row regardless of whether North Dakota State actually makes it to the tournament.
It's not, though, and Thundar's lost his size advantage. And now he's fighting a mythical creature that killed a well-meaning bear last round and, perhaps most impressively, voluntarily lives through humid Alabama summers where everything just feels heavy and it's hard to breathe and I feel like I need to put in the air conditioner despite the fact that it's like 40 degrees in Chicago right now.
|One hopes the suit has a cooling system.|
That was a tangent, but the point is that Blaze wins this one as well.