College Basketball Nickname Brawl

Well it’s that time of year again. SportsCenter is airing every bit of NCAA basketball coverage it can find. Doug Gottlieb is going out on a limb and choosing all the top seeds to advance to the Final Four. Bob Knight is furious about Auburn not being included. Suit and ties at every office building are huddled over their monitors debating the merits of Siena beating Louisville and then loudly boasting that they’re choosing Siena.

It’s all nonsense. There is really only one foolproof way to choose a national champion. School nicknames. That’s right. It’s the most scientific, evidence-based method of selecting upsets, slam dunks, and nail biters.

The Nickname Brawl will focus on factors including a reality-based showdown between school nicknames, the smell test, the eye test, the soft touch test, historical context, and an extra variable that will be determined on a game-by-game matchup.

So here we go!

Midwest Bracket

1. Louisville Cardinals

16. Play-in Game: Alabama St. Hornets/Morehead St. Eagles

We’ll start with the play-in game, which has always been a crowd pleaser. Each team playing its guts out to receive the honor of losing by 600 to the overall number 1 seed the following round. But luckily this is not the NCAA tournament and the Hornets and Eagles have just as good a shot of winning the whole thing as the number 1 seed.

At first glance, you have to go with the Eagles. I think birds of prey eat bugs. Is a hornet even a bug, though? Not sure on that one, but then you have to remember that hornets are mean! They can sting and sting and sting. Not like a honey bee. If this were a matchup of the Eagles and the Honey Bees, done deal for the Eagles. But these are hornets, just for fun we’ll say that they are these hornets:

In a slight upset the Hornets sting the Eagles just one too many times and move on to face Louisville.

Louisville has no chance. Let’s be honest here. They just got finished watching the Hornets beat the Eagles. Now math may not be my strong point, but I know this: Eagles>Cardinals. I even think the Hornets take it easy on the Cardinals and still dominate. Thinking about a hornet stinging a cardinal kind of seems messed up. Cardinals can’t even peck things. They rely on old men in Maine penitentiaries to keep them in their inside coat pockets and feed them scraps. Fact.

8. Ohio St. Buckeyes

9. Siena Saints

Little bit of research needed on this one. What exactly is a Buckeye? OK done. I was under the impression that it was a plant. Or a leaf. I was close. It’s a tree. And it stinks! Poisonous to cattle… and humans! Oh no. The last time I checked saints are human. Or more than human? Better than humans. Got it. So I figure that a saint will have enough common sense to not eat this tree. Which was really the only shot the Buckeyes had.

Simply by not eating a tree, the Saints have moved on.


5. Utah Utes

12. Arizona Wildcats

Back to the books. What constitutes a Ute? And finally, this is years in the making, I will know just what a wildcat is.

Well as it turns out, the University of Utah’s nickname is named after the Ute Tribe of Native Americans. I feel like I should have known that. Further, the men’s basketball team is referred to as the Runnin’ Utes and the women’s team was the Lady Utes, but now prefers just the Utes. Not kidding, pretty fascinating stuff.

As for a wildcat? Apparently there is an Old World wildcat. Wildcats are also members belonging to the genus Lynx. Genus? Stay out of this, Science. We’ll stick to whatever

lives in the U.S., which could be a Canadian Lynx or a Bobcat. OK, what? The University of Arizona Canadian Lynx? I kind of like it… But that’s enough. A wildcat is this.

AH! Taxidermy for cash, huh? OK well whatever it is, it ain’t beating a Ute. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Unless you’re a Ute, in which case there are like a million ways!

Utes big.

4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

13. Cleveland St. Vikings

Classic matchup. Demon Deacons versus Vikings. Or Vikes. Cool nick-nickname. As a little digging uncovered, though, the Demon Deacons is as lame a nickname as you’ll find. Apparently, they used to be the Wake Forest Fighting Baptists (awesome), but switched to the Demon Deacons after a particularly spirited game against Duke. They were noted for their spirited fight and devilish play. Lame. I really expected the Deacons to go far. It’s a great name. Unfortunately for Wake Forest, the Internet exists.

Vikes, without much effort, and without even needing any “devilish” tactics, move on.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

11. Dayton Flyers

Mountaineers and Flyers. OK, here’s a mountaineer.

Not really. Here you go (and we’re trying to stay current).

Mountaineers own mountains. Mountain?

No shot against a mountaineer. However, the Mountaineers are not taking on a mountain in the first round. They are facing off against the Flyers. The Flyers of the University of Dayton were named in honor of the Wright Brothers, who invented the airplane in Dayton. So a Mountaineer versus the Wright Brothers. 2 on 1. Kind of not fair. But this is a Mountaineer we’re talking about. (Please use Bill Raftery voice). Dominate! A little kiss off the glass! The big fella! Smash those goggles! Grab that pilot scarf…Domination!

Mountaineers in a tough one.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

14. North Dakota St. Bison

We talked earlier about the slam dunk matchups, and here’s your first one. Really? A bison against a jayhawk? Rock Chalk, Jayhawk? Come on now. It’s a bison. Maybe the jayhawk could antagonize him, but I’m guessing no. Maybe it would have a shot if it were fighting this bison. Awww. But still no. And if it has any shot of defeating the North Dakota St. Bison, it will need this. Ahhh, so that’s where the mouth is! Victory!

No. Bison big.

7. Boston College Eagles

10. USC Trojans

Well this is our second eagle versus something matchup and once again it looks like the eagle is going to lose. Trojans have swords. And

helmets like this.

Do you know what that brush thing is for? Warding off swooping birds! Hey

eagle, thinking of using this move?

Think again! Your talons will just get a nice cleaning. Once the eagle goes

tumbling to the ground it will most likely get the

Sarah-Palin-in-the-foreground-giving-an-interview-treatment. Not good.

Trojans moving forward.

2. Michigan St. Spartans

15. Robert Morris Colonials

Finally! A historical matchup of epic proportion! A Spartan (from Sparta), part of one of the most famous armies in history… up against a colonial (from a colony).

Uh oh. And beyond that, Robert Morris University was founded in 1921 as the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy. Yikes. Not tough.

Although, I don’t see these two men fighting. I think they would work it out in advance.

Spartan: If we fight…

Colonial: (Sweating and nodding furiously)

Spartan: I will kill you.

Colonial: (Gross half burp under breath. Holding back vomit)

Spartan: So how about you just lie down and act dead?

Colonial: (Stops holding breath) Deal! Now give me a piece

of paper to sign, we like that kind of thing.

Spartans moving on.

West Bracket

1. Connecticut Huskies

16. UT Chattanooga Mocs

Very interesting matchup here. Not the Huskies. We all know what a husky is. It’s a dog. A crazy dog. They like to pull sleds. And shed.

Now as for the Mocs, I’m baffled. Apparently, so is UT Chattanooga. Originally they were the Moccasins, represented by the water moccasin.

In case you can’t tell, that’s a snake. In the water! Oh. Dear. God. That is my number one fear. Is anywhere safe?! Foolishly, UT Chattanooga switched to being represented by a shoe. Come on now. Not cool.

Then, in the 1970s they switched to having a mascot known as Chief Moccanooga. Wow. In a move that could only mean that someone there was finally using common sense (aka not the guy who got rid of the water moccasins) they rid themselves of the Chief and went to the currently used Mocs, which is represented by a mockingbird driving a train. Zany!

UT Chattanooga, for your flip-flopping, fickle, absurd approach to a very serious matter you have lost to a fluffy dog, which, coincidentally, is terrified of snakes (side note: not true).

Huskies advance.

8. BYU Cougars

9. Texas A&M Aggies

A cougar versus someone who attends an agricultural college. This presents a dilemma. Cougars are very savvy. And have large teeth used for eating humans. Farmers (someone who attends an agricultural college) own guns. And are angry. Mainly at cougars.

Aggies win a close one.

5. Purdue Boilermakers

12. Northern Iowa Panthers

A boilermaker is awesome. This is not up for debate. Anyone who uses a blow torch to repair and make hot water boilers is awesome. They wear welding masks. Enough said. A panther is just a fancy name for a cougar. Or puma. Or mountain lion. Come on, scientists! Knock it off with this multiple name thing.

Regardless, a boilermaker would put on his welding mask, light his blow torch and absolutely terrify a panther.

Boilermakers, impressively, move on to the next round.

4. Washington Huskies

13. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

Ah, we knew this matchup would have to happen someday. But we all hoped it wouldn’t. Two dog breeds. Are they going to fight? Of course not. Dogs should not fight one another. We only have one choice. A race. OK kind of not fair. How about one of those obstacle course things like on ESPN? Also a blowout. Eating contest? Seems grotesque. Well, it’s a push. Both teams lose. Purdue gets a bye in the next round. Because honestly, neither a husky, nor a bulldog, stood a chance against a boilermaker.

6. Marquette Golden Eagles

11. Utah St. Aggies

Another eagle. Come on, universities! Let’s try to be more creative. Although, I guess Marquette has the Golden Eagles, which at least is specific. I know of two types of eagles: bald and I guess golden. Question, though. Have you seen a bald eagle? Majestic! A little research revealed that Marquette had a UT Chattanooga-esque identity crisis and only settled on the Golden Eagles in 1994. Sad. A little more research uncovered that one of the previous nicknames was the Golden Avalanche. Really cool. An avalanche of gold. Deadly! And expensive.

In a thrilling upset (that being the fact that I have 2 Aggies moving on to the next round), the Aggies defeat the Golden Eagles of Marquette.

3. Missouri Tigers

14. Cornell Big Red

Now when I was pondering doing this, I had to give a good amount of thought about what to do with school nicknames that were colors. I realize that a lot of these names are based mainly on tradition (or Ivy snobbery): Harvard Crimson, Dartmouth Big Green, Cornell Big Red, etc. But luckily I kept thinking and realized that these names are based on nothing but good old-fashioned laziness.

Add a fierce name in there! Harvard Crimson Murderers. Dartmouth Big Green Rabid Goats. Cornell Big Red Wave of Bloodied Cougars. You get the idea. And so, henceforth, any school with a color nickname automatically loses.

Plus, the Big Red were facing the Tigers. Blowout.

Tigers win.

7. California Golden Bears

10. Maryland Terrapins

Let’s see. A terrapin is a turtle. OK I won’t write them off immediately. Let’s see just what a golden bear is. It’s a lie that’s what it is. Golden bear? Doesn’t exist. No such bear as a golden bear. Unlike the golden eagle. Apparently, in 1872 a banner was made with what was supposed to be a golden grizzly bear (symbol of the state of California), and Cal

eventually became the Golden Bears.

So are we pitting a grizzly against a terrapin? You have to go with the grizzly. A turtle can only hide in its shell for so long, before the bear eventually eats the whole thing. However, the terrapins have one of the best nick-nicknames out there: Terps. Pretty sweet.

Nick-nicknames aside, the terp gets devoured by the grizzly.

2. Memphis Tigers

15. Cal St. Northridge Matadors

This could be one of the best matchups of the first round. On one hand we have a tiger. As it turns out, tigers are mean and are willing to eat people. They also do not fear the color red. On the other hand, matadors are crazy! They stand directly in front of bulls with nothing more than a red sheet (and an incredibly sharp sword). Also, their pants are tight. Very tight.

What would happen in this case? Would the tiger charge the matador like a bull? Would it just maul the matador as terrified spectators look on? This matchup would be held in a huge stadium in Spain. The tiger would be flown in from Russia. Basketball would not be discussed. In an unbelievable display of athleticism, the matador would defeat the tiger. Think Valpo beating Mississippi.

Matadors stun tigers.

East Bracket

1. Pittsburgh Panthers

16. East Tennessee St. Buccaneers

Admission time. I love pirates. The only thing I love more than pirates? Cool synonyms for pirates. The Bucs. Classic. Even if you find yourself rooting for another team, you always secretly wish you could be rooting for the Bucs. Come on Bucs! Let’s go Bucs! You cannot beat that.

As for Panthers? What did I say earlier? Stick with a name, guys. Plus, geographical location is big here, too. When I think of East Tennessee I think of pirates. It’s really that simple.

Digger Phelps picked Pitt to win it all. Sorry, Digger, you can highlight the line below.

Bucs win huge.

8. Oklahoma St. Cowboys

9. Tennessee Volunteers

In this matchup I’m exercising my right to be ignorant. Now I’m sure Tennessee has some noble and self-important reason for being the Volunteers, but I do not care. They are volunteering to lose here. Cowboys are tough. It’s that simple. They are also jerks. They spit constantly. Even when they have no saliva in their mouths they can spit. Here is their diet: beans out of dirty cans, whiskey. Done.

Cowboys in a romp.

5. Florida St. Seminoles

12. Wisconsin Badgers

I’m really liking this East bracket. Earlier we had a lot of animals. This bracket we’ve got some real tough SOBs. In this matchup we have the Seminoles and the Badgers. Now normally I would have to go against any school nickname that involves a Native American tribe because it’s really not as if the school (and especially not the basketball team) are honoring the tribe in any way. But let’s leave that alone (plus I already picked the Utes


If I remember anything from grade school (and I do) it’s that badgers are nasty animals. They might start out their lives looking pretty cute.

But at the age of 2 they become this.

Fact. Unfortunately when they are matched up with the Seminoles, no matter what

age they are, they quickly become this.

Seminoles moving on.

4. Xavier Musketeers

13. Portland St. Vikings

I did say earlier that I loved the Vikes. But I can’t put this group of Vikes past the Musketeers. The Three Musketeers were great. It’s an underrated candy bar. Kind of the ginger ale of candy bars. It’ll never be your first choice but once you go with it you’re quite happy.

Plus, I feel like a Viking would just run at a musketeer like a jerk. No strategy involved. The musketeer would simply move to one side, grab a chandelier, flip seven times, throw his sword in the air, spin around 6.5 times, catch his sword, and then slice the Viking up good.

Might be surprising to some, but the Musketeers move on with ease.

6. UCLA Bruins

11. Virginia Commonwealth Rams

A bruin is a bear. Glad we got that out of the way. Rams hit things with their heads. Or, more specifically, with their horns. So where is this matchup taking place? If we’re on a mountain I gotta go with the ram. If they’re fighting on top of a ball, I gotta go with the bear. Although… Actually, no. That does not look promising.

The Bruins take it.

3. Villanova Wildcats

14. American Univ. Eagles

This matchup makes me mad. These are two of the most generic nicknames out there. We’ve already established what a wildcat is. Not all that impressive. But we’re going to break out some biology here. Cats eat birds. Even Canadian Lynx eat birds. I think. Now an eagle is a serious bird, with serious talons. But my guess is the wildcat will take down the eagle in this scenario.

Wildcats, unimpressively, move on to the next round.

7. Texas Longhorns

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers

A lot of gold as an adjective for teams. Why do the gophers have to be gold? I know I liked it earlier with the Golden Avalanche, but now I’m tired of it. Longhorns seem to be slow and very cow-like. But they have one thing going for them. This. Wow. Extremely impressive. Although not that aggressive, I think those horns are more than enough to scare off some gopher. Unless, maybe, if it’s this gopher. I’m allllright, don’t nobody worry ‘bout me.

So he might have a chance. But he’s a normal gopher, not a golden gopher. Caddyshack gopher would win.

Golden Gophers get gored (alliteration).

2. Duke Blue Devils

15. Binghamton Bearcats

I’m really torn on this one. First off, what would beat a devil? I mean, a devil is pretty untouchable right? But the Duke Blue Devils are only blue because that’s a school color. Not really scary. I’m just not feeling it.

So here’s how we decide. As I’m lying in bed, about to fall asleep, what thought would cause me to have nightmares? A devil? Eh. Or a bearcat? Ah! What on Earth is that thing? It’s not a bear. Or a cat. I can definitely see it latching on to my neck, though. Do you see those eyes? Bloodthirsty!

Bearcats destroy the Blue Devils.

South Bracket

1. North Carolina Tar Heels

16. Radford Highlanders

A tar heel is nothing. It means nothing. Well, I guess it means something to people from North Carolina. It is an original nickname, which I appreciate, but really, it’s never going to beat anything. Now a highlander, an inhabitant of the Scottish Highlands, is a little cool? Not really, though. I’m disappointed in the first matchup of the South bracket. I’m

not looking ahead (lie), but I don’t see good things for the Highlanders, who have taken this one.

Highlanders in a snoozer.

8. LSU Tigers

9. Butler Bulldogs

I have a hard time thinking about a tiger fighting any domesticated animal, but Bulldogs are pretty tough. As the Internet has told me, they were originally bred to bait bulls, as well as bears. And that they were even able to suffocate them. Yikes.

But still, it’s not looking good for the bulldog. Run, bulldog, run!

Tigers win. We’ll leave it at that.

5. Illinois Fighting Illini

12. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Back to the Native American tribe debate. Once again, it caused issues at the University of Illinois, but eventually they retained the nickname Fighting Illini, claiming it references Illinoisans who fought in World War I. Sounds fishy to me. Now normally I would just blindly pick against the Illini, but they’re facing the Hilltoppers.

The Hilltoppers’ mascot? A giant red blob. They are called the Hilltoppers because the campus is located on a hill. I am not making this up. Awful, awful stuff.

World War I Fighting Illini move on. Not happy with this one.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs

13. Akron Zips

I’m going to admit to being biased on this one. Love the Zips. On top of my bias, I am sick of bulldogs. We get it, people like bulldogs. They lose. But let’s look more at the Zips. Their mascot is a kangaroo. A female kangaroo. Very cool. Originality is topnotch here, and that counts for something. Plus, although Akron’s nickname had nothing to do with a

kangaroo (actually it was based on a sneaker), I still like to think about kangaroos fighting. And this story. It’s just interesting, OK!

Zips big.

6. Arizona St. Sun Devils

11. Temple Owls

I’m not looking up what a Sun Devil is. I’ve seen the logo. Pitchfork, etc. Nothing new. Not a fan of the devil nickname. As for owls? Owls are serious. This woman? Is fearing for her life. Plus, when owls feel strongly about something they will mess you up.

Owls take it.

3. Syracuse Orange

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

This might be our most one-sided matchup of the first round. It rivals Jayhawks/Bison. I’ve already discussed my hatred of color nicknames. Add to that the incredible nickname of the Lumberjacks and we’ve got ourselves a beatdown. I fully expect the Lumberjacks to thrive.

Lumberjacks in a walk.

7. Clemson Tigers

10. Michigan Wolverines

This is a big time matchup. Tigers have fared well thus far. There are a lot of tigers out there, in many different states. I was unaware of this prior to this tournament. Let’s move on to the Wolverines. Here is one. Kidding. But apparently they are pretty fierce animals. Pound for pound, just tough. Do not wake him up.

I like the Wolverines here, based mainly on looks. It’s legit.

Wolverines take down the Tigers.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

15. Morgan St. Bears

Last matchup of the first round and it’s a doozy. So far bears have been making out really well in this tourney. And they’ve got this one as well. When I think of a Sooner I just think of someone who showed up early and claimed land. A little sneaky if you ask me. They might have guns, but they have to sleep sometime… at which time, bam! Bear claw in the face.

Bears have it. On to round 2.

Round 2

Midwest Bracket

9. Siena Saints

16. Alabama St. Hornets

I’m picturing a swarm of angry hornets chasing Mother Theresa. Really wrong I know. I can’t help it. OK she’s not even a saint. Just looked it up. I’m stunned about that one. Also, they have this guy. Longest name in NCAA tournament history. His full name is actually Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims Jr. I’m a fan.

Book it. Hornets moving on.

5. Utah Utes

13. Cleveland St. Vikings

Really like the Vikes in this one. As solid as the Utes are, I just can’t see them taking down the Vikes. Any animal foe and I would take the Utes, but this seems like a physical battle and for that I gotta go with the guys wearing those horned helmets.

Vikings headed to the Sweet Sixteen.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

14. North Dakota St. Bison

A tricky one here, as I’m having a hard time taking animals over humans. Humans are just so smart. And good at beating animals in things. However, have you ever seen an angry bison charge? No? It’s a glorious thing. Fine, I’ve never seen it, but I know I’d be terrified. Going with the Bison here. Just too good at charging.

Bison moving ahead.

2. Michigan St. Spartans

10. USC Trojans

Spartans win. It happened already. Done.

West Bracket

1. Connecticut Huskies

9. Texas A&M Aggies

After winning by default in round one over the infuriating UT Chattanooga Mocs, the Huskies are looking to find a way to pull one out against the Aggies. I’m still not sold on any Aggie (that’s right, not one), but I know huskies enjoy having owners. And why would an Aggie not want a husky to do stuff, you know, agricultural stuff? I’m thinking even the angriest husky could be tamed, and so I’ve got the Aggies winning.


5. Purdue Boilermakers

The Boilermakers can sit back and take it easy as they have a bye this round. However, they still feel the need to do work. They need to weld. It’s like breathing for them. A very interesting strategy. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire in the Sweet Sixteen.

3. Missouri Tigers

11. Utah St. Aggies

What if both sets of Aggies were to meet in the Elite Eight? Would they just sit down and talk about plant and crops? Is that an offensive question to an Aggie? Luckily, we’ll never have to find out because there ain’t no way an Aggie is handling a tiger. It’s not pretty. Maybe if the Aggie had matador-like agility it’d be a different story. No luck.

Tigers move on.

7. California Golden Bears

15. Cal St. Northridge Matadors

I just can’t go against the Matadors. If we’re going to give them the nod over the Tigers of Memphis, you’re telling me they can’t polish off a grizzly? Let’s put it this way. Grizzlies are slower than tigers. Grizzlies don’t have stripes. Grizzlies love tight pants. Recipe for disaster for the Cal Golden Bears.

Matadors take down the Grizz.

East Bracket

8. Oklahoma St. Cowboys

16. East Tennessee St. Buccaneers

Really tough one here. Both have leathery skin. Both wear great looking hats. Cowboys ride horses. Pretty good. Pirates have pirate ships. Also pretty good. Cowboys move cattle. Not that cool. Pirates find hidden treasure. Awesome! Cowboys have rifles. Eh. Pirates use cannons. Tremendous. You can see where this is going. A pirate and a cowboy square off? You know that pirate is going to do something really slimy and find a way to

beat the cowboy.

Bucs win!

4. Xavier Musketeers

5. Florida St. Seminoles

Well we know musketeers wear puffy clothes. This is not in their favor. Previously, I lauded the candy bar. Not gonna cut it this round boys. You gotta bring more than nougat. The Seminoles don’t even like candy.

Seminoles big.

6. UCLA Bruins

3. Villanova Wildcats

Did a wildcat really get through? My bad on that one. The Bruins romp in this one. Not only are bears pretty strong but they also love to eat wildcats. The list of things bears love to eat goes like this (top 4): 1. Honey 2. Salmon 3. Wildcats 4. That guy from Grizzly Man. Done. That’s the list,

Bruins over ‘Cats.

7. Texas Longhorns

15. Binghamton Bearcats

Now I know you saw the creature that currently haunts my dreams previously. But I just can’t get over those horns. One look at those babies and that bearcat isn’t coming down from his tree. So unless he can wait around until the longhorn tries to fall asleep and has horrendous nightmares about the very sight of the bearcat, I think this one’s over.

Longhorns drop ‘Cats.

South Bracket

8. LSU Tigers

16. Radford Highlanders

Seeing as how the Highlanders barely scraped by the Tar Heels, is it any surprise they get mauled by the Bayou Bengals? The matchup could even take place in the Scottish Highlands and it’s still a blowout.

Tigers huge.

5. Illinois Fighting Illini

13. Akron Zips

I expressed my displeasure with having to put the Illini through, but considering they were going up against the Big Red Blobs, I had no choice. But guess what, Illini? You’re facing the Zips now. Biggest Cinderella story of the tournament. Love those Zips. The Zips are running circles around the Fighting Illinoisans from World War I. It’s a complete joke!

Zips embarrass the Illini.

11. Temple Owls

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Listen, the Lumberjacks are good. I mean, if we were to re-seed this entire thing they might be the overall number 1 seed. Think UCLA’s 88-game winning streak teams. UNLV in 1990. Indiana in 1976. The Owls, for all their spirited anti-drinking endeavors, are no match for a lumberjack. Not complicated.

Lumberjacks move on with ease.

10. Michigan Wolverines

15. Morgan St. Bears

Another all animal matchup and it looks like a humdinger. The Wolverines stunned the animal world in the first round when they took down the Tigers of Clemson, and might be a bit worn out for this one. The showdown begins and… oh my God! The wolverine goes absolutely berserk. I’m flabbergasted. The bear stood no chance. Here are the numbers: the wolverine weighs 45 lbs. The bear weighs 700 tons. Time of fight: 32 seconds.

Wolverines have once again bucked the favorite and move on to the Sweet Sixteen.

Sweet Sixteen

Midwest Bracket

13. Cleveland St. Vikings

16. Alabama St. Hornets

The Hornets have had an unbelievable run. They have momentum on their side. They have the Chief. But the Vikes, who’ve taken down the Demon Deacons and the Aggies from Utah, are not about to let the Hornets end their run. They smash the Hornets. And eat them. Then they eat a bunch of Snickers.

Vikes onto the Elite Eight.

2. Michigan St. Spartans

14. North Dakota St. Bison

I was hoping that the Bison wouldn’t get matched up with a team like the Spartans. There’s just nothing they can do. This won’t even be close. Not only are the Spartans incredible at fighting, but they are also smart. They know Greek. Not sure if you know this or not, but Greek is not an easy language to learn. There’s a completely different alphabet. I don’t think the Bison will be able to handle it. They had a good run.

Spartans move on.

West Bracket

5. Purdue Boilermakers

9. Texas A&M Aggies

The Boilermakers are somewhat well rested. They still worked an 18-hour day, but compared to their normal 22-hour day, their bye game was a much needed vacation. The Aggies actually show up, but the outcome is never in doubt. Boilermakers burn up the Aggies, weld certain areas to um other certain areas and well, it’s not pretty.

Boilermakers looking unbeatable.

3. Missouri Tigers

15. Cal St. Northridge Matadors

So far the Mats (that’s what I’m calling them from now on) have taken down a tiger and a bear. And now they get another tiger? Hey selection committee? Don’t tell me you didn’t see this one coming a mile away. Unacceptable!

The Mats win in formulaic fashion.

East Bracket

5. Florida St. Seminoles

16. East Tennessee St. Buccaneers

The Bucs have really looked good so far. The Seminoles  haven’t really faced anything the likes of a pirate. Now don’t get me wrong the Seminoles have been impressive in getting this far, but come on. I don’t recall Mikey from the Goonies going off searching for hidden Native American treasure. He knew what he was doing.

Noles get dumped by the Bucs.

6. UCLA Bruins

7. Texas Longhorns

For some reason the Bruins have been our best bear entry. They just get it. And the Sweet Sixteen is no exception. John Wooden would be proud. Wait, Johnny is still alive? Correction. John Wooden is proud. Sacrilege, I know.

Regardless, the Bruins move on.

South Bracket

8. LSU Tigers

13. Akron Zips

My love for the Zips has not gone unmentioned. But against a tiger it just isn’t feasible. A fast kangaroo? And a tiger. But, seeing as how this is the tournament, upsets abound! Nope, still can’t do it. Yes I can! Zips, in a show of pure speed and crazy kangaroo kicking and boxing, defeat the Bayou Bengals.

Zips find a way.

10. Michigan Wolverines

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

In their first two rounds, the Wolverines took down two very large animals by just being crazy. But unfortunately they’ve run up against the vaunted Lumberjacks, who simply decimate their habitat and then just wait and wait until eventually the Wolverines are extinct. The Lumberjacks—tough but fair.

‘Jacks onto the Elite Eight.

Elite Eight

Midwest Bracket

2. Michigan St. Spartans

13. Cleveland St. Vikings

So far the Spartans have looked untouchable. The Vikes have

also held their own, but let’s not forget the Spartans are trained killing

machines. The Vikes give it a great go, but in the end their helmets only cover

their heads, while the Spartans’ helmets cover their noses. Advantage Spartans

(from Sparta).

Our first Final Four team, the Spartans.

West Bracket

5. Purdue Boilermakers

15. Cal St. Northridge Matadors

The Mats have been a real crowd pleaser throughout the tourney, but they have only faced animals. The Boilermakers have put in a workmanlike effort (obviously) thus far. And, in a bit of a surprise, it’s not close. The tights. The red blanket. Even the hat. No match for the Boilermakers. They are unimpressed and anxious to return to work.

Boilermakers will face the Spartans in the Final Four.

East Bracket

6. UCLA Bruins

16. East Tennessee St. Buccaneers

In what would have been the equivalent of all four number one seeds making the Final Four, an all-human Final Four came quite close to happening. In fact the Bucs took an early lead, however, in a moment reminiscent of the 2004 fox series, the bruins reminded us exactly who was man and who was beast:

Bucs lose.

South Bracket

13. Akron Zips

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

The Lumberjacks have been unstoppable. And no upset this time. The kangaroos try everything in their repertoire. The boxing. The kicking. The offering of itself for greenhouse-gas-reducing meat. Nada. One swing of the ax and it’s all over. The Zips gave it a great run, but in the end they are done.

Lumberjacks still dancing.


Final Four

2. Michigan St. Spartans

5. Purdue Boilermakers

I wrestled with this one for a long time. OK not that long. It basically came down to the smell test. Spartans reek. I mean they really smell awful. Not a lot of showering back then. The Boilermakers work 27-hour days, but when they do get home they actually take a bath. Further, the welding mask is awesome, but the Spartan helmet and shield are just too tough for the Boilers. Tough one, guys.

Spartans in the Final.

6. UCLA Bruins

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

I also gave a lot of thought to this matchup and while I really liked the Bruins throughout, but then I put myself in the bear’s shoes. And this is what I saw coming at me.

Oh no! Run bear, run! That guy is nuts. He has never been afraid of anything in his life. Nothing. I thought it might be possible, but no way.

Lumberjacks romp.


2. Michigan St. Spartans

14. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Well here we are. If you told me at the beginning we’d have two non-animal nicknames in the final matchup I never would have believed you. That being said, I am pleased with where we ended up. This would be a showdown for the ages. The Spartans are trained to kill. Lumberjacks are trained to be enormous, capable-of-pushing-over-redwoods, men. Sword and shield vs. ax and chainsaw.

Now you might think a trained soldier would destroy a blue-collar lumberjack. But don’t forget lumberjack as a mythological figure. I can’t get past those lumberjack contests on television. These guys are nuts. And they know the forest. I can’t run from my feelings.

Lumberjacks take it.