2009 Mascot Bracket

So, for the last twenty years or so I have been filling out NCAA tournament brackets.  When I was about 13 I came within a last second shot of winning, but settled for fourth place.  That is the closest I have ever come to winning.  I stopped doing brackets for money about three years ago – but still enter into free contests, and still get my ass handed to me.  So instead of making predictions which have almost no credibility based on my track record, I decided to fill out this year’s bracket based on a system my brother and I came up with about 10 years ago.  Put simply, the concept is, Which mascot would win in a fight?

There are a few basic tennets of this system:

  1. Predatory animals defeat non-predatory animals – its the food chain, right?
  2. Predatory animals defeat humans without weapons.
  3. Humans with weapons defeat all animals.
  4. Humans with weapons defeat humans without weapons.
  5. In battles between two humans with weapons, most advanced weapons win, e.g. gunpowder defeats iron.
  6. Battles betwee two predatory animals, the bigger, meaner one wins.

These are basic rules.  It gets tricky when you start to consider the following:

  • Supernatural entities – These things will typically defeat any animal and most humans, but godly humans will win.
  • Weather systems – Depends on the severity.   A hurricane? pretty tough.  A green wave? not so much.
  • Colors (how do you defeat the Orange? With an eraser? How do you even fight the color orange to begin with?  New rule – Immobile inanimate objects lose to anything that moves.  There might not be knockout, but when you go to the scorecards, the moving object would get some points for trying).

So, here it goes:

MIDWEST:

Play-in game: Morehead State EAGLES def. Alabama State HORNETS
16 EAGLES def. 1 Louisville CARDINALS (This is the first time in history that a No. 1 seed has gone down. I haven’t looked yet, but I’m not confident about the TAR HEELS either).
9. Siena SAINTS (depicted by a Saint Bernard) def. 8. Ohio State BUCKEYES
5. Utah UTES def. Arizona WILDCATS (see rule #3 – humans with weapons vs. animals)
13. Cleveland State VIKINGS def. Wake Forest DEAMON DEACONS (this is a tough call, because a deacon could presumably get a weapon, but there is nothing about a deacon that is inherently armed.)
15. Robert Morris COLONIALS def. 2. Michigan State SPARTANS (see rule #5 If you have seen the movie 300, you might disagree, but COLONIALS would have more firepower.)
10. USC TROJANS def. 7. Boston College EAGLES
3. Kansas JAYHAWKS def. 14. North Dakota State BISON (see rule #1. Very tough call, it is hard to imagine a hawk pecking a bison to death, there’d probably be no knockout, but Hawks would win on the cards).
6. West Virginia MOUNTAINEERS def. 11. Dayton FLYERS (see rule #4)
SECOND ROUND:Saints def. Eagles – similar to Jayhawk vs. Bison, but if the dog could get one good bite, it would be curtains for the Eagle)
Utes def. Vikings – rule #5
Colonials def. Trojans – rule #5
Mountaineer def. Jayhawk – rule #3
THIRD ROUND
Utes defeat Saints – rule #3
Mountaineer def. Colonial – rule #5
REGIONAL FINAL
Mountaineers def. Utes

EAST:

16. East Tennessee State BUCCANEERS def. 1. Pittsburgh PANTHERS (A historical second No. 1 seed goes down)
8. Oklahoma State COWBOYS def. 9. Tennesee VOLUNTEERS – rule #5 (this took some research. It turns out the name Volunteers comes from the War of 1812, when Andrew Jackson got a bunch of volunteers to fight the British. Cowboys though, lasted well into the 1800’s, and presumably would have better weapons).
5. Florida State SEMINOLES def. 12. Wisconsin BADGERS – rule #3
4. Xavier MUSKATEERS def. 13 Portland State VIKINGS – rule #5
2. Duke BLUE DEVILS def. 15. Binghamton BEARCATS – miscellaneous rule. Duke used to be called the Methodists, which is kind of cool, but not very tough. Some think it could actually refer back to a French military unit from World War I, back when the French actually were tough.
7. Texas LONG HORNS def. 10. Minnesota GOLDEN GOPHERS – Neither are predatory, but if forced to fight, there is a clear favorite.
3. Villanova WILDCATS def. American U. EAGLES – rule #6
6. UCLA BRUINS def. Virginia Commonwealth RAMS – rule #6
SECOND ROUND
Cowboys def. Buccaneers – rule #5
Muskateers def. Seminoles – rule #5
Blue Devils def. Long Horns
Bruins def. Wildcats – rule #6
THIRD ROUND
Cowboys def. Muskateers
Blue Devils def. Bruins
REGIONAL FINAL
Blue Devils def. Cowboys

SOUTH

1. North Carolina TAR HEELS def. 16. Radord HIGHLANDERS – rule #5 (A highlander is a Scottish warrior from the middle ages. The term Tar Heel came from soldiers in the Civil War, who presumably had something more deadly than a Claymore).
8. LSU TIGERS def. 9. Butler BULLDOGS – rule #6
5. Illinois FIGHTING ILLINI def. Western Kentucky HILLTOPPERS – rule #4 (the Illini were native Americans that presumably had weapons. The Hilltoppers are just a bunch of guys that moved the school up to the top of a hill).
4. Gonzaga BULLDOGS def. Akron ZIPS. – (This will be the Zips vs. the Zags, but Gonzaga’s official nickname is the Bulldogs. The Zips are actually named after the zipper, which was invented in Akron, OH. The mascot is a kangaroo, which would probably crush a Bulldog, but we’re going with nicknames – and a zipper would not defeat anything, unless a school became known as the Ben Stiller’s Franks and Beans)
2. Oklahoma SOONERS def. 15. Morgan State BEARS – A Sooner would have a shotgun.
7. Clemson TIGERS def. 10. Michigan WOLVERINES – This would be an awesome fight, but I’ll take the Tiger.
14. Stephen F. Austin LUMBERJACKS def. Syracuse ORANGE – anything beats a color, except maybe a zipper.
6. Arizona State SUN DEVILS def. 11. Temple OWLS – ASU might be tough to beat.
SECOND ROUND
Tar Heels def. Tigers
Fighting Illini def. Bulldogs
Sooners def. Tigers
Sun Devils def. Lumberjacks
THIRD ROUND
Tar Heels def. Fighting Illini
Sun Devils def. Sooners
REGIONAL FINAL
Tar Heels def. Sun Devils (this is not exact science, but the Sun Devil looks like a guy with a douchy mustache in a Noid costume, carrying a pitchfork. A Tar Heel would shoot him).

WEST

1. UConn HUSKIES def UT Chattanooga MOCS (I am still not sure what a Moc is, but from the logo, it looks like a bird. Some logos show a bird driving a train, which is just weird.
8. BYU COUGARS def. 9. Texas A&M AGGIES – An Aggie is a farmer, which is not intrinsically armed. A cougar would maul an unarmed farmer.
5. Purdue BOILERMAKERS def. 12. Northern Iowa PANTHERS – This is a close call, but the Boilermaker has a huge hammer, and could connect on one good swing.
4. Washington HUSKIES def. Mississippi State BULLDOG – Another close one, but a huskie is a little bigger and more agile.
2. Memphis TIGERS def. 15. Cal State Northridge MATADORS – A Matador is a human with a weapon, but he is used to fighting impaled bulls, not full strength Tigers. Think Siegfried and Roy. Tigers win.
7. California BEARS def. Maryland TERRAPINS – A Bear would have a hard time getting the knockout, but he would win on the scorecards.
3. Missouri TIGERS def. Cornell BIG RED – Again, colors always lose.
6. Marquette GOLDEN EAGLES def. Utah St. AGGIES – Again, unarmed farmer is defeated by predatory animal.
SECOND ROUND
Cougars def. Huskies
Boilermakers def. Huskies
A classic battle pits Tiger vs. Bear. I really do not know who would win.
Tiger def. Golden Eagle
THIRD ROUND
Boilermaker def. Cougar (if he beat a Panther, he could beat a Cougar)
Tiger vs. Tiger or Bear (this is a real conundrum)
REGIONAL FINAL
Boilermaker would be defeated by either a Tiger or a Bear, the hammer would not be enough. But which? I’ll go with the highest seed, and take the Mizzou Tiger.

FINAL FOUR
West Virginia Mountaineers defeat Missouri Tigers
Duke Blue Devils defeat North Carolina Tar Heels

CHAMPIONSHIP
Duke defeats West Virginia.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “2009 Mascot Bracket

  1. Nicole

    Rob, I love this system and if I ever do a bracket, this is how I decide. :o)

  2. Ryan

    I knew that UT-Chatanooga used to be called the Moccassins — it was changed to Mocs recently. However, I wasn’t sure if they were named for a poisonous water snake, or a Native American leather shoe.

    It turns out that it was both, and a few other things along the way. According to Wikipedia:
    “The school’s athletic teams are called the Mocs. The teams were nicknamed Moccasins until 1996. (The origin of the name is uncertain; however, Moccasin Bend is a large horseshoe-shaped bend in the Tennessee River directly below Lookout Mountain.)

    The mascot has taken on four distinct forms, with a water moccasin being the mascot in the 1920s, and then a moccasin shoe (known as “The Shoe”) was actually used as the school’s mascot at times in the 1960s and 1970s. From the 1970s until 1996, the mascot was Chief Moccanooga, an exaggerated Cherokee tribesman.

    In 1996, due in to concerns over ethnic sensitivity,[6] the Moccasins name and image were dropped in favor of the shortened “Mocs” and an anthropomorphized mockingbird named “Scrappy” dressed as a railroad engineer. The school’s main athletic logo features Scrappy riding a train (a reference to Chattanooga’s history as a major railroad hub and to the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo”). The mascot takes its name from former football coach A.C. “Scrappy” Moore.”

    As for your system, it all depends on which mascot you use:
    — The Huskies beat a leather shoe for sure.
    — But, the Indian Chief (bow & arrow, tomahawk) beats the canine.
    — I think the stealthy, poisonous snake sneaks in one quick, deadly strike to the bigger, but slower Husky.
    — The dog versus the river bend is a tough one. If it’s a slow lazy river, I go with the dog (see inanimate object / weather system (sort of) rule above). However, if there are rapids, the doggy paddle may not be enough to stay afloat and the river may pull the dog under — and pull Chatanooga to the next round. The fast moving river would probably drown the BYU Cougar in the 2nd round too, but the Purdue Boilermaker and his engineering ingenuity would find a way to tame the river and end this Cinderella story in the Sweet 16.
    — Another tough call is the mockingbird. Alone, the bird is obviously no match. However, if he is allowed to drive his Choo Choo train, and can run over the dog then that’s a different story.
    — And finally, the Husky versus a football coach is another toss-up. The football coach is inherently unarmed, but he is a football coach after all — so I think it’s still a toss-up. In the end though, said football coach is named “Scrappy”, so I have the give the edge to the dog.

    That’s just my 2 cents worth — you’ll have to make the final call.

  3. That is some good stuff about the Mocs. I think after already picking two 16 seeds, I was a little leary of feeling coerced to pick a third. When I found the little bird, I was all over it. I didn’t think about the train – but like I said, I was a little gun shy about having another #1 seed go down.

    If I had let the bird use the train, then I should have let the Flyer use an airplane, which would have allowed me to pick them over the Mountaineers, and I might still have all my final four picks in tact.

    Right now this bracket is beating one of my other three that I picked in earnest. The Midwest Region killed me though. I think next year I’ll try going with no upsets in the first round, then go with the mascots.

  4. Ryan

    After 2 rounds, the top 4 seeds have done very well. Only Arizona (12) and Purdue (5) are not from the top 4 seeds. That said, I looked at how a bracket of only the higher seed winning every game would fare this year. Using the scoring system of my pool at work (1-2-4-8-12-16) I plan to see if that is a better way to do it.

    After 2 rounds, the “Favorite Pool” has scored 49 pts. That would place it in a tie for 12th place (out of 56 entries). Our leader right now is 55 pts. So obviously picking some lower seeds is more effective — if you pick the right ones.

    As for some of the “experts” I also keep track to see how the local newsmen fare. This year Mike Imrem has 49 pts. (t-12th), Lindsey Wilhite (college beat writer) has 42 pts (t-40th), and Sports Illustrated has 45pts. (t-28th). The “Mascot Bracket” would have 35 pts. — good for 54th place.

    Just to look at the somewhat randomness of the whole thing you can look at Luke’s bracket (for those that don’t know, he’s 16 mos. old). I approximated that about 1 in 5 games is an upset. So I took 5 pieces of 2×2″ paper, and wrote ‘higher seed’ on 4 of them, and ‘lower seed’ on the other. I mixed them up and randomly spread them face down (amazingly enough, he can’t read, but I didn’t want to influence his methodology) on the floor. He would walk up to them and stomp on each one (like a old time carnival horse doing math clomping out the answer to 2+3). As he stepped, I would pick them up in order. Then I just went down the sheet and filled in winners according to which piece of paper he had stepped on. His sheet has scored 44 pts — good for a middle-of-the-pack 32nd place. Plus, he has 7 of 8 still alive for the next round, and his Final 4 of Mich. St., UConn, Duke, and Oklahoma is not so far out there.

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