#1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #16 Hampton Pirates
I'll be honest, I'm a fan of Pirate mascots. Part of that is childhood bias, and part of that is a prediliction toward the sort of tricorne the Hampton Pirate has going on here.
|Also, he's got sort of a pained "I never really intended to get this deep into piracy, but here we are" expression.|
It's just that the sort of hat that has enough brim that you've got to bind it up into shapes that suggests you've conquered a sufficient amount of foes that no one's going to say anything about it.
Cavman's brim is nothing to sneeze at, of course, and we're in the rare situation where these mascots could actually, I guess, actually come to blows. I'm not sure how crimes at sea related to Royalist opposition to Oliver Cromwell, but I can see there being an argument for it.
|Also, while I appreciate Cavman's goatee, I've got to side with the Pirate in a facial-hair-off.|
I'm going to say that the Pirates' dedication to hat folding is the deciding factor here.
#8 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. #9 Butler Bulldogs
Ok, so Texas Tech has The Masked Rider, which is not only a pleasantly unique mascot name (as opposed to, say, the myriad Pistol Petes that dot the landscape), but he originates in the 1930's, when a student threw a mask on to conceal his identity, "borrowed" (which I think we have to read as "stole") a horse from the agricultural department and rode it onto the field ahead of the team as a prank.
|Also, the prank was originated by Douglas Fairbanks, by the looks of things.|
Ignoring the size advantage and that I'd expect any self-respecting Raider to have a weapon, I think the Red Raiders don't even have to fight the Bulldogs here. The power of a Prank Based Mascot is enough to pull Texas Tech through.
Texas Tech Advances.
#5 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #12 Arkansas Little Rock Trojans
I feel like we've had this discussion before. Probably not with Arkansas Little Rock, but I'm pretty sure prior brackets have resulted in an anachronistic warrior (who I'd guess would either be USC, Michigan State or maybe San Diego State?) being confronted with Purdue Pete and several tons of train.
|Also, those are the eyes of a man who would not flinch from hitting a dude with a train.|
Now, I'll admit. I'd watch a retelling of the events of the Trojan War where, rather than crafting the Horse, Odysseus simply waits until nightfall, lays down some track and smashes through Troy's gates with a damned train. I think the fact that I don't know what the Trojan response would be seals it.
#4 Iowa State Cyclones vs. #13 Iona Gaels
I don't get Cy, you guys.
I mean, I get Cy in the sense that he's some sort of terrifying toothy bird from the netherworld whose only source of joy is pain, but as a mascot, I'm not sure I'm on board. You've got Cyclones as a team name and a school in a very flat part of the country, and so to go with something other than some sort of actual cyclone seems weak. Especially a small bird that would definitely be tossed around.
Say what you will about Iona's Gaels' beards, but I'm going to assume that the Gael can take care of a Cardinal. Even one as mighty as Cy.
#6 Seton Hall Pirates vs. # 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs
It's not me, you guys. It's Pirates. Pirates naturally just really want to fight bulldogs, apparently.
In this, the Pirate region, I'm a little more skeptical of the chances of the Seton Hall Pirate, largely because he seems to have spent most of the gold he's stolen from trading vessels on bright blue Manic Panic for *all of his facial hair*. I appreciate a commitment to the school colors, but it's potentially a sign that he's going to run into trouble in later rounds as he deals with his impulsivity.
|Also, it turns out he wasn't pirating trading ships so much as No Use for a Name albums.|
Spike seems like a fine bulldog. His underbite is a plus, but I'm concerned that in a Mascot Bracket of Death, his sad eyes suggest he's not going to be able to soldier through.
Seton Hall advances.
#3 Utah Utes vs. #14 Fresno State Bulldogs
I am out of ways to have fluffy mascots kill bulldogs.
I am lost. There is no end. Everywhere I look, there are more bulldogs.
It is adorable. It is unending.
As for the matchup, we've done hawk on bulldog. Hawk wins. Well done, Swoop. I'm sorry that it was your matchup that drove me to madness, and that I didn't allow you to team up with Fresno State's bulldog for some painfully forced Swoop Dogg jokes.
|Swoop acknowledges that it's better this way.|
#7 Dayton Flyers vs. #10 Syracuse Orange
I get the sense that Rudy Flyer is up to something, but in a good-natured, playful mischief sort of way and not a bomb-his-enemies-into-embers sort of way.
|Oh well, whatever. You and Rudy and that red sweater.|
Otto is an orange. The absolute best I can come up with is that maybe, *maybe* Otto could attack with citric acid somehow? Maybe try to get it into his foes' eyes? That's the best I can do. And, unfortunately for Otto, Rudy's got that problem covered because he's coming into the battle with the proper PPE in the form of those goggles.
And, getting back to the first point, I don't see Rudy as a "destroy civilization" pilot, but ruining some citrus crops? That seems like it might be his speed.
#2 Michigan State Spartans vs. #12 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
The problem with doing this over the course of the tournament is that, obviously, we know how this played out in reality. On one hand, we've got battle trained warriors as embodied by Sparty the Spartan, whose eyebrows suggest he has had enough of this.
The Blue Raiders were once the Pedagogues, so good on them for establishing a reasonable mascot name. They've got some sort of sentient Blue Horse that might be able to deal thunder damage? The t-shirt suggests that he's got abilities beyond that of a regular horse, and the smile suggests that you'll never find the bodies.
|Welcome to the Terror Stable.|
So do I go with the upset (a Spartan being defeated by a horse, which preserves the potential of a Red Raiders/Blue Raiders matchup down the line) and include the massive upset that happened in reality or presume that Sparty could handle a magical horse and close the opening with some semblance that this is completely independent of the actual games?
Hell with it. Lightning's got magical weather powers, and I find this to be funnier.
Middle Tennessee advances.