I don’t always follow basketball but every year I am drawn to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament like a vulture drawn to fresh roadkill. This year I have entered a couple of different brackets to pick who I think will win the tournament. I did one based on records and conferences, statistics and coaches. I will not reveal the secrets of that bracket because unlike baseball I know almost nothing about basketball except that it is played by people a lot taller than me who can both jump and actually throw a basketball through a hoop. Thus those picks are under lockdown. If I win the pool I’ll beat on my chest and say what an expert that I am, get hired by ESPN as an analyst and live happily ever after at least for a season or two until I get fired because I really don’t know what I am talking about. But then there are guys that have been doing that for decades why can’t I join them? But I digress….
Now I know that there are a lot of people who use various means to pick the tournament winners. But this is not baseball and none of these people are Bill James the Saber metrics guru. Again as I said I am not an expert when it comes to basketball. However I do know something about mascots and it happens that every team has one. Some are animals of various types, others some kind of human hero, others something to do with mountains, nature and even the supernatural. I figure that why not do another bracket based on my intuition of how the mascots would do. Unfortunately a lot of the teams had the same mascots so in picking I had to make sure that none of the mascots ended up facing their alternate universe self.
So to make the simple difficult I will break this up into the geography of the NCAA tournament which generally corresponds to the regions of the United States, the Midwest, the West, the South and the East. Obviously there is no such thing as the North in our country otherwise the Glenda the Good Witch of the North would have made sure that it still existed.
The Midwest Regional
In the NCAA Midwest the Louisville Cardinals meet the Aggies of North Carolina A&T. Cardinals are pretty mean birds and Aggies are not well known for outsmarting things. So Cardinals beat Aggies. The Colorado State Rams will play the Missouri Tigers and as anyone knows a Tiger beats a Ram any day of the week. In the second round it comes down to nature. Cats eat birds, thus Missouri goes to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys play the Oregon Ducks in the first round and while Cowboys may do great against Indians and Buffalo they are no match for a Ducks. The St Louis Billikens, which are some kind of weird doll will meet the New Mexico State Aggies. Yes I know that I said that Aggies are not known to be the swiftest or the toughest, but even the most limp wristed Aggie can break a china doll with no problem. But in the second round humans again are confounded by Ducks and Oregon moves on the the Sweet Sixteen.
The Memphis Tigers will play the St Mary’s Gaels. Now “what the hell is a Gael” you ask? A Gael is someone that speaks Gaelic. Tigers eat people, even Gaelic speaking ones, unless they are drunken Irishmen, but they are in a different Region. Memphis wins. The Michigan State Spartans play the Valparaiso Crusaders and this was a tough one to pick. Crusaders are tough but motivated by religion and ideology, while Spartans are just badass, kickass fighters. Spartans win. Did you see the movie 300? They move on, unless by chance a traitor comes in behind them. Still Michigan State to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Creighton Blue Jays play the Cincinnati Bearcats. Blue Jays are tough birds and mean, while no one knows if a Bearcat is a bear or a cat. Actually a Bearcat is some kind of weird looking animal like a Giant Panda found in Southeast Asia. Anyone knows that Panda are an endangered species while Bluejays are not. That in mind and the fact that the game is being played in the United States and not the Mekong Delta leads me to pick Creighton. Finally in the Midwest the Duke Blue Devils play the Albany Great Danes. This one comes down to metaphysics and spirituality. Devils only lose to God and a Great Dane is not God despite dog being God spelled backward. Thus the Blue Devils take on the Blue Jays who can’t beat the Devil. Duke to the Sweet Sixteen.
In the Sweet Sixteen Oregon’s Ducks will beat the Missouri Tigers because Ducks can both fly and go in the water and Tigers can do neither. Likewise Blue Devils beat Spartans. Spartans may be tough but they ain’t God. This means that in the regional final that the Ducks will face the Blue Devils and though Ducks may have the evil qualities of a witch, because like wood both float (see Monty Python and the Holy Grail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU ) a witch and therefore a Duck is no match for the Devil. So the Duke Blue Devils go on to the Final Four.
The West Regional
The West Region will start with a surprise, the number one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs will be defeated by the Southern University Jaguars. Let’s face it. Bulldogs look tough but are pretty slow and probably no match for a big cat. Southern wins. The Pittsburgh Panthers play the Wichita State Shockers. Now I know what you are thinking Panthers are a big cat, but if I recall a Shocker has something to do with electricity and cats do not do with with electricity. Wichita wins against them and repeats against the Jaguars for the same reason, electricity kills cats. In a Shocker, Wichita moves to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Wisconsin Badgers play the Ole Miss Rebels and as anyone knows Badgers are tough and crafty and love feeding on Southern food. Badgers win. The Kansas State Wildcats will play the La Salle Explorers and Wildcats like to eat unsuspecting Explorers. K-State wins and moves on. This sets up a classic match up of the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as the Badgers kill the Wildcats and move to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Arizona Wildcats play the Belmont Bruins and while normally I would take a Bruin over a cat of any kind any day of the week these Bruins used to be called the Rebels until 1995 and just the scenario described above Rebels don’t do well against wild animals. Even Rebels that have changed their name, it was a crafty name but nature knows the real thing. Arizona wins. The New Mexico Lobos, which is like a New Mexican Wolf play the Harvard Crimson, and crimson will be the color of the court when the Lobos devour Harvard. New Mexico Wins.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play the Iowa State Cyclones. Drunken Irishmen like to fight and are not bothered by bad weather. Notre Dame wins. The Ohio State Buckeyes play the Iona State Gaels, yet another team with an obscure mascot that is in the tournament twice. But this time the Gaels win, because anyone knows that if there is no Haggis around that any Scots-Irish-Welshman will eat whatever vegetation is available, and since a Buckeye is a tree and most parts are edible, the Iona Gaels I win.
In the West region of the Sweet Sixteen the Fighting Irish play the Lobos and once again drunken Irishmen win and move on to face the winner of the Wisconsin-Wichita State match up. In this the Shockers finally spark out because their cord won’t get deep enough into the cave of the Badgers. Wisconsin wins. In the West Regional final The Fighting Irish win again, like I said, they aren’t afraid of anything and will defeat Wisconsin.
The South Regional
In the South the Kansas Jayhawks play the Western Kentucky Hill Toppers. Now to my knowledge a Hill Topper is someone at the top of a hill but birds, particularly Hawks fly high, over hills and for me altitude is the key in the match up. Kansas wins. The North Carolina Tar Heels play the Villanova Wildcats. Now everyone knows that Tar is bad for you, and if you get too much of it on your feet or in your lungs you end up with bad diseases. Since Wildcats tend to be healthier than people stuck in tar Wildcats win. Since I live in North Carolina and don’t even know where Villanova is, I wish this was not the case, but working in healthcare settings for many years means that I have to go with science and Villanova wins to go to the Sweet Sixteen.
The VCU Rams play the Akron Zips and since Zip is the mascot of the US Postal Service Zip Code and the Postal Service is in trouble one has to go with VCU. VCU wins. The Michigan Wolverines, named after the Marvel Comics super hero play the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Sorry Wolverine has those nasty knife like claws and that will carve up a Jackrabbit any day of the week. Michigan wins. Likewise I don’t think I don’t think that the Wolverines can lose to Rams and will make Mutton of them. Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen.
The UCLA Bruins play the Minnesota Golden Gophers and anyone with any sense knows that a Gopher will do anything to avoid a bear and thus UCLA Wins. The Florida Gators play the Northwestern State Demons. Now we all know that Demons are pretty badass beings, but these are not Demons from a major conference thus kind of minor Demons. Gators live in the water and anyone that knows their Bible knows what happens when Demons get in the water, they lose. Jesus showed us that when he chased those pigs into a lake. Florida wins but when they have to battle the Bruins, who can fight in land and water the lose. UCLA to the Sweet Sixteen.
The San Diego State Aztecs play the Oklahoma Sooners, and sooner rather than later we all know that the Aztecs will carve up the Sooners. The Georgetown Hoyas, the basketball team of a Jesuit school, which are named after a Latin Term Hoya Saxa, which means “What rocks” play the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Anyone knows that no Jesuit is killed by an Eagle, Jesuits are much more crafty than that and Jesuits throwing rocks, they are dangerous. Georgetown wins. However, the Hoya’s have to face the Aztecs and the Aztecs have been waiting for revenge ever since Cortez came knocking at the Halls of Montezuma. San Diego State to the Sweet Sixteen.
In the Southern Region Sweet Sixteen the Villanova Wildcats mix it up with the Wolverines and despite the claws I think by now that the Wolverines are tired and the Wildcats win. The UCLA Bruins, because they are cool Southern California type Bruins with no love for San Diego beat the Aztecs who really don’t have anything against the Bruins because they like nature. However the Bruins finally lose when they face the Villanova Wildcats. Wildcats do better on the high plains of North Texas than large bears and so they have the advantage and thus Villanova goes to the Final Four.
The East Regional
In the East Regional the number one seeded Indiana Hoosiers face the JMU Dukes. Now no one knows what a Hoosier is, which makes them hard to define and the Dukes are named after minor nobility, totally out of place in the United States. Hoosiers win. The North Carolina State Wolfpack plays the Temple Owls. Now I give you the fact that Owls are great hunters, but they are night hunters and this game is being played in the afternoon, giving the Wolfpack the advantage. Yes wolves like the night too, but they do well in the day too. NC State wins.
The UNLV Running Rebels of the Vegas strip play the California Bears. In this case I give the Rebels the edge, these are Berkley Bears and far too mellow for this kind of fight, and anyone knows that the Rebels that moved to Vegas after the great War Between the States are much more crafty than other Rebels. UNLV wins. The Syracuse Orangemen who I am reliably informed are named after Speaker of the House John Boehner play the Montana Grizzlies, yet another Bear, but Boehner, the Orangeman himself controls the budget and Montana Grizzlies tend to live on National Parks, and if there is no funding these bears die. Syracuse wins.
The Butler Bulldogs will play the Bucknell Bison. This was a hard pick, but dogs are used to herd Bison, I think anyway and if that is true then the Bulldogs of Butler have to win. The Davidson Wildcats play the Marquette Golden Eagles and cats eat birds, even highly seeded birds. The Wildcats then move on to defeat the Bulldogs.
Finally the Illinois Fighting Illini play the Colorado Buffaloes. History is the key in this. You always see the Indians hunting down Buffalo and not the other way around. Illinois wins. But the big surprise is the University of the Pacific Tigers defeating the Miami Hurricanes. Now one might ask how that could be, but Tigers don’t live in Hurricane zones and thus are safe. Pacific wins. However, the Illini are pretty good hunters and will kill off the Tigers to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
In East Region Sweet Sixteen match ups the Hoosiers of Indiana defeat the Running Rebels of UNLV because even Rebels on the Vegas Strip have a hard time figuring out what a Hoosier is and how to defeat it. Illinois moves on to defeat Davidson, once again using their superior hunting skills, but the Fighting Illini meet their match when the run up against the Hoosiers, who like everyone else they have no idea how to defeat because they don’t know what they are. This sends the Indian Hoosiers to the Final Four.
The Final Four
In the Final Four the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame come up against the Devil in the form of the Duke Blue Devils and even drunken Fighting Irishmen don’t beat the Devil. Indiana will defeat Villanova because like everyone else even Wildcats don’t know what a Hoosier is, but the Devil does and this means that the Duke Blue Devils are my Mascot Pick for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Is this a logical way to pick a bracket? Not at all, but I bet that it works pretty well.
Have fun with your brackets.