2008 Edition (Part I, Part II)
Well, if you didn't read those links, let me explain what this is all about. There was a great episode of "Perfect Strangers" in which Balki was able to predict the outcome of football games simply by determining which mascot would win in a fight (a lion would beat a ram, for instance). In 2007, I used that flawed logic and applied it to the NCAA Tournament. I did it again last year. Now it's 2009 and...
HERE WE GO!
MIDWEST REGION1 Louisville Cardinals vs. 16 Morehead State Eagles
The Verdict: Morehead State
Why: Okay. Two birds here. Which one looks more dangerous? The Cardinal with its "mildly pissed off" sneer or the Eagle with the freakin' "tear your guts out" talons? No contest here.
8 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 9 Sienna Saints
The Verdict: Siena
Why: It's a classic 8 vs. 9 battle, but I think Siena gets the edge here. Think about it for a second...when you hear the name "Saints," you usually think of some long-dead do-gooder. But Siena pulls the big switcheroo...using a vicious SAINT Bernard in its logo! What does Ohio State have? A big "O." Perhaps if Brutus featured more prominently in their plans, I'd have to say "Buckeye!"
5 Utah Utes vs. 12 Arizona Wildcats
The Verdict: Utah
Why: From a pure logo standpoint, this one is about as boring as you can get. A Washington Redskins-knockoff logo against a tri-colored "A" is pretty yawn-inducing. But when you consider the combined might of the 17 loosely-associated groups that once comprised the mighty Ute tribe, it's a no brainer. Even if Arizona's vicious, feral cat always gets the girl:
4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. 13 Cleveland State Vikings
The Verdict: Cleveland State
Why: This would be an easy call if we were talking about a regular ol' deacon; after all, a viking would thrash one. However, we're talking about a Demon Deacon, and that makes things a little more complicated. The Vikings win here because they've adjusted tactics...instead of being mindless, straightforward attackers, the Cleveland State Vikings are lying in wait, looking for the perfect opportunity to strike.
6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. 11 Dayton Flyers
The Verdict: West Virginia
Why: You gotta give credit to the mountaineer. Once the butt of a thousand "dirty, unwashed hick in the woods" jokes, he finally looks like he's ready to shoot someone. Oh...like a dorky, big-headed pilot.
3 Kansas Jayhawks vs. 14 North Dakota State Bison
The Verdict: North Dakota State
Why: Really, what is the deal with the Jayhawk? It's the goofiest looking bird in the tournament and possibly the stupidest looking mascot in the entire field. Bison don't exactly eat birds...but I'm thinking they might make an exception in this case.
7 Boston College Eagles vs. 10 USC Trojans
The Verdict: USC
Why: An eagle is no match for a Trojan like Eric Bana. Well, as long as the eagle isn't named Brad Pitt.
2 Michigan State Spartans vs. 15 Robert Morris
The Verdict: Robert Morris
Why: It's very simple. Spartans, though mighty and prepared for glory, often force themselves into terribly unfortunate situations. Like in this case...swords vs. muskets. Muskets win.
WEST REGION1 UConn Huskies vs. 16 Chattanooga Mocs
The Verdict: Chattanooga
Why: C'mon! A mockingbird named "Scrappy" driving a train vs. a boring, gray-tongued snow dog? A bird driving a train wins every time!
8 BYU Cougars vs. 9 Texas A&M Aggies
The Verdict: Texas A&M
Why: There are other BYU Cougar logos, yes. This is, however, the most offensive. I mean, this is more offensive than some of those awful ethnic logos that are still in existence. You may as well just go ahead and trim the testicles off every ferocious cat out there if you're going to do this to the cougar. Poor thing's bound to get crushed by some uninspired, giant letters. That's right...today's beatdown is brought to you by the letters "T," "A," and "M."
5 Purdue Boilermakers vs. 12 Northern Iowa Panthers
The Verdict: Purdue
Why: Witness the determined look on Purdue Pete's face. Do you think he's going to lose to a generic-looking panther? With that hardhat and hammer, I highly doubt it.
4 Washington Huskies vs. 13 Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Verdict: Washington
Why: Bulldogs have a reputation for ferocity. But really...does the bulldog employed by Mississippi State look like a fighter or a guy who's smoked a little too much weed? Meanwhile, Washington employs the distinguished-looking husky, whose noble visage overlooks all. It's a dogfight...but the husky wins.
6 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. 11 Utah State Aggies
The Verdict Utah State
Why: The Warriors. The Gold. The Golden Eagles. Marquette can't figure out what the heck it wants to be. Utah State, meanwhile, made the most of a crappy nickname like the "Aggies" to come up with a big bull named Big Blue. He looks pretty tough, definitely tough enough to rough up an eagle.
3 Missouri Tigers vs. 14 Cornell Big Red
The Verdict: Missouri
Why: Oh, man. Poor Cornell. Is it me or does the bear look "special" in that logo? He's hiding behind the "C," swiping almost drunkenly at whatever comes its way. Then there's the Missouri Tiger...fearsome, bold...out in front of the "M."
7 California Golden Bears vs. 10 Maryland Terrapins
The Verdict: Maryland
Why: Oh, I know what you're thinking. There's no way a turtle could beat a bear. But take a closer look at the Maryland Terrapin. He knows something you don't and he knows he knows something you don't. That cocksure attitude serves him well.
2 Memphis Tigers vs. 15 CS Northridge Matadors
The Verdict: Memphis
Why: Well, it's pretty simple. Matadors are used to going up against bulls. Weakened bulls. If a matador tries to sidestep a tiger, he won't get gored...he'll get freaking mauled.
EAST REGION1 Pitt Panthers vs. 16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers
The Verdict: East Tennessee State
Why: Well, Pitt's logo is pretty unimpressive. I kind of miss the ol' Panther logo they used to employ. Those four letters ("Pitt") really can't contend with what appears to be an undead buccaneer.
8 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. 9 Tennessee Volunteers
The Verdict: Tennessee (barely)
Why: Okay. So Oklahoma State's mascot is the Cowboys. We get a big orange "O." Tennessee's mascot is the Volunteers. We either get a big orange "T" or a dog named Smokey. We'll give it to the dog, but I'm not happy about it.
5 Florida State Seminoles vs. 12 Wisconsin Badgers
The Verdict: Wisconsin
Why: Anyone brave enough to walk around in that sweater deserves to win.
4 Xavier Musketeers vs. 13 Portland State Vikings
The Verdict: Portland State
Why: I have to give the Vikings props. Last year, they boasted this abstract viking logo that resembled a NASCAR helmet with horns. They're not giving up on that design. It shows resiliency...and that's why I'm picking them over the Musketeers.
6 UCLA Bruins vs. 11 VCU Rams
The Verdict: UCLA
Why: I've never been a big fan of the Bruins, but at least this particular bear looks like he's getting the last laugh. VCU's Ram, well, just isn't that intimidating. Let's see the Ram retain that furrowed brow when he's getting slapped around by a bear!
3 Villanova Wildcats vs. 14 American Eagles
The Verdict: Villanova
Why: The Wildcat means business. Meantime, the Eagles rely on an "A" and "U" to convey their splendid grandeur. Disappointing, American. Disappointing.
7 Texas Longhorns vs. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Verdict: Texas
Why: Let's face it: the Golden Gopher isn't even looking in the direction he's running. Makes it very easy to get gored, doesn't it?
2 Duke Blue Devils vs. 15 Binghamton Bearcats
The Verdict: Binghamton
Why: That's a sweet logo Binghamton's sporting. That vicious Bearcat is right in your face. The Blue Devil, meanwhile, looks like he's turning for a mugshot. Plus, did you know the term "Blue Devil" is named after a group of French soldiers? You can insert your own joke about France...now.
SOUTH REGION1 North Carolina Tarheels vs. 16 Radford Highlanders
The Verdict: North Carolina
Why: There can be only one...decent freaking logo. You're telling me that with a name like the Highlanders, Radford can't get Christopher Lambert or Sean Connery? The BEST they can do is "Highlanders" written out? Rameses kicks that logo all over the place.
8 LSU vs. 9 Butler
The Verdict: Butler
Why: Unlike Mississippi State's Bulldog, Butler's means business. LSU's Tiger? That's either a half-hearted feral growl or a terrible smile. You decide.
5 Illinois vs. 12 Western Kentucky
The Verdict: Western Kentucky
Why: If Grimace and Elmo had some kind of illicit affair, you'd end up with Western Kentucky's mascot. No one knows what the hell it is, and that makes it possibly the scariest mascot ever. Boatloads of awesome, too...even over the stoic, noble Illinois logo, who really does deserve a better fate.
4 Gonzaga Bulldogs 13 Akron Zips
The Verdict: Akron
Why: I guess I'm not too big on a bulldog unless it's Butler's. But hey...how many teams can you think of that have a freaking KANGAROO in their logo? Kangaroos can box. I say the Gonzaga Bulldog gets a bloody nose.
6 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. 11 Temple Owls
The Verdict: Temple
Why: I would expect a Sun Devil to have fun. Nothing wrong with that, really. But when Temple's Owl gives you that stare...and you think it might be John Chaney staring at you...you become John Calipari and get really, really scared.
3 Syracuse Orange vs. 14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
The Verdict: Syracuse
Why: This is a toughie. I mean, you can't see anything but the Lumberjack's ax. That's pretty scary. But take a look at the sinister expression on Otto the Orange's face. Tell me you want to mess with that...and I've got some beachfront property to sell ya.
7 Clemson Tigers vs. 10 Michigan Wolverines
The Verdict: Michigan
Why: John Beilein's teams have been tournament killers...just like Wolverine kills everything he sees. Do you really think a tiger would stand a chance against Wolvie's adamantium-enhanced claws? Plus, Hugh Jackman hosted the Oscars.
2 Oklahoma Sooners vs. 15 Morgan State Bears
The Verdict: Morgan State
Why: Hmmmm...what could possibly be sitting inside a Conestoga wagon? Tasty Sooners, of course. That bear looks mighty hungry!