of the Elite 8 is set. I feel like I haven't written enough about college basketball this month, so here is some more.
The South and West regional finals are set.
Region: (1) Florida vs. (11) Dayton –
Saturday 3/29 6:09 p.m. EST on TBS
took care of Stanford, clinching the Flyers' first Elite 8 since 1984 and
putting them one step closer to their second Final Four and first since they
lost to UCLA in the title game in 1967.
Florida held off UCLA. The Gators are
playing for their 5th Final Four and first since winning it all in 2007.
Florida is playing in its fourth Elite 8 in a
row, which is the most since Kentucky went to five straight from 1995 to 1999
and only the sixth time that a team has gone to at least four Elite 8s in a row. In the previous three years, Florida has
failed to advance past the Elite 8, but history is on the Gators' side. Each of the other five teams that have gone
to four or more Elite 8s in a row have won at least one national title and gone
to multiple Final Fours during their Elite 8 streak. Here are the teams that have gone to four or
more consecutive Elite 8s, the years of their streak, and their national title/runner-up/Final
Four stats during their respective streaks)
-UCLA: 10 (1967-1976) (8 national titles; 10 Final
-Cincinnati: 5 (1959-1963) (2 national titles; 1 runner-up;
5 Final Fours)
-Duke: 5 (1988-1992) (2 national titles; 1 runner-up;
5 Final Fours)
-Kentucky: 5 (1995-1999) (2 national titles; 1 runner-up;
3 Final Fours)
-California: 4 (1957-1960) (1 national title; 1 runner-up;
2 Final Fours)
-Florida: 4 (2011-present) (zero national titles or Final
interesting stat I saw this morning on SportsCenter was that an 11-seed has won
the last two matchups with 1-seeds in the Elite 8, with George Mason beating UConn
in 2006 and VCU beating Kansas in 2011.
Overall, 11-seeds are 3-2 in the Elite 8 (all games have been played
against 1-seeds). So, yes, I'm saying the Flyers have a chance.
Region: (1) Arizona vs. (2) Wisconsin –
Saturday 3/29 8:49 p.m. EST on TBS
rallied to beat a pesky San Diego team, much to many of my brackets'
chagrin. The Wildcats will be seeking
their 5th Final Four and first since losing to Duke in the title game in 2001.
in the night, Wisconsin waxed Baylor, setting up the only matchup between a 1-
and 2-seed in the Elite 8. This is as
far as Bo Ryan has ever gotten (he also took Wisconsin to the Elite 8 in
2005). The Badgers are looking for their
3rd Final Four appearance and first since their improbable run as an 8-seed in 2000,
Dick Bennett's last year as head coach.
On their way to the Final Four that year, the Badgers upset 1-seed
Arizona. Will history repeat itself? Well, will it?!
we have the following matchups (in parentheses is the last time each school
made it to the Elite 8):
Michigan (2013) vs. (11) Tennessee (2010) - 7:15 EST CBS
Louisville (2013) vs. (8) Kentucky (2012) - 9:45 EST CBS
Region (New York)
Iowa State (2000) vs. (7) Connecticut (2011) - 7:27 EST CBS
Virginia (1995) vs. (4) Michigan State (2010) - 9:57 EST CBS
Three Elite 8 Teams for Big Ten or SEC?
Michigan and Michigan State both win tonight or if Kentucky and Tennessee both
win tonight, the Big Ten or SEC will have three Elite 8 teams, which would be the
17th time a conference has had three Elite 8 teams (and second year in a row).
are the years in which a conference has had three or more Elite 8 teams since
the NCAA Tournament began allowing more than two teams per conference in 1980. As you can see, 8 of the 16 occurrences thus
far were in the '80s, and only 5 times has the national champion come from a conference with three of more Elite 8 teams.
2013: Big East (Louisville***, Marquette, Syracuse*)
2009: Big East (Connecticut*, Louisville, Pitt,
2005: Big Ten (Illinois**, Michigan State*,
2003: Big 12 (Kansas**, Oklahoma, Texas*)
2002: Big 12 (Kansas*, Missouri, Oklahoma*)
2001: Pac-10 (Arizona**, Stanford, USC)
2000: Big Ten (Michigan State***, Purdue,
1992: Big Ten (Indiana*, Michigan**, Ohio State)
1989: Big East (Georgetown, Seton Hall**, Syracuse)
1988: Big 8 (Kansas***, Kansas State, Oklahoma**)
1987: Big East (Georgetown, Providence*,
1986: SEC (Auburn, Kentucky, LSU*)
1985: ACC (Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North
1985: Big East (Georgetown**, St. John's*,
1983: ACC (North Carolina, North Carolina State***,
1982: Big East (Boston College, Georgetown**,
to Final Four
ACC Futility, Sort Of
If Virginia fails to advance to the Final Four, it will mark the fourth year in a row that no team from the ACC has made it to the Final Four, and the first time since 1973-1976 that has happened.
Virginia loses tonight to Michigan State, the ACC will have no teams in the Elite 8 for only the second time since the 1979-1980 season, which is by far the least of the six
"major" conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC)
during that time span. (I chose the 1979-1980 season because that is the first year the Big East was in existence.)
Here is the number of times each major conference has failed to have an Elite
8 team since the 1979-1980 season (not including this season):
1. ACC: 2
2. Big East:
8 (1981, 1986, 1988, 1992-1994, 2000-2001)
that same span, here is how the Final Four berths and national championships
shake out among the major conferences.
As you could have guessed, the ACC's ability to consistently make it to
the Elite 8 translates into Final Fours and national titles.
reached the halfway point of the BAM! trip recaps. At halftime of IU football games, it's pretty
common to head back out to the tailgate fields for a halftime beer or two
before going back into the game for what is often a shit show on the football
field. With that same spirit, we're
about to get into the recap of the second half of the trip, which was in Munich
for Oktoberfest –- a shit show in Bavaria.
So, it seems appropriate for a halftime beer or forty-one. For the entire trip, starting with the first
beer we had when we got to Brussels (at the brewing museum), we made sure to
cheers to our first drink at a new bar, restaurant, river boat, bier garten, or
tent, or when someone else joined us at a bar, restaurant, river boat, bier
garten, or tent, and we made sure to take a picture of each of those cheers. So, without further ado, here are 41 cheers.
Very cool color footage of Chicago in the 1940s was recently discovered at an estate sale and digitized. It was apparently some sort of promotional video produced by the Chicago Board of Education in 1945 or 1946, but it's not exactly clear why it was produced, other than to tell people why Chicago is awesome. As a Chicagoan, it's interesting to see what the city looked like before most of the current cityscape was installed. I also love the various stats and superlatives about Chicago, including that 1/6 of all meat consumed in the US was processed in Chicago, Chicago's train track mileage was greater than that in "39 of the 48 states," the University of Chicago is "the greatest research institution in the world," and Chicago is the "most American of American cities." Here is the video. It's 32 minutes long, and choppy at the beginning, but it smooths out.
The craziest part for me was when the showed the Cubs playing at Wrigley Field in what was probably 1945 -- the last time they went to the World Series. My favorite part is when the narrator describes Northwestern University as having students from every "important" country in the world. Also, Chicago had special school "for the crippled," which is nice. And what ever happened to the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium? And what's with that male golfer's FUPA at the 22:32 mark?
told you this was going to be a crazy tournament. This weekend, we saw dreams shattered,
Cinderellas dancing longer than expected, a half-dozen overtime games, buzzer
beaters, and Duke lose in the first round.
to my timely paternity leave, I saw at least some of every game from Thursday
to Sunday. Here are my top three games:
(12) Stephen F. Austin 77 (5) VCU 75
(OT) (Round of 64, South Region). This
game was insane. SFA went up by ten
early in the second half, then VCU went on a crazy run to go up by double
digits, then SFA came roaring back, erasing a 10-point deficit in the last 3
1/2 minutes. Down by four with 10
seconds left in regulation, SFA grabbed a rebound off of a missed free throw,
went the length of the court and hit a three while getting fouled with 3
seconds left to send the game into overtime.
I was watching the game with a sleeping one-week-old right next to me,
so all I could do was pump my fists and quietly mouth
2. (2) Wisconsin 85 (7) Oregon 77 (Round of 32,
West Region). Wisconsin came back from a
12-point halftime deficit, and most the second half had these teams changing
leads. The final score is not indicative
of how close the game was, due to a technical foul on Oregon with one second
left that resulted in a few Wisconsin free throws.
3. (8) Kentucky 78 (1) Wichita State 76 (Round
of 32, Midwest Region). Even though I
hate Kentucky more than AIDS, this was a great game. Both teams punched and took punches, battling
back and forth. In the end, a missed
three at the buzzer by Wichita State ended the Shockers' perfect season.
Dayton 60 (6) Ohio State 59 (South Region)
Texas 87 Arizona State 85 (Midwest Region)
Mercer 78 (3) Duke 71 (Midwest Region)
Dayton 55 (3) Syracuse (53) (South Region)
Iowa State 85 (6) North Carolina 83 (East Region)
Enough living in the past. Here are the Sweet 16
teams, along with the last time they made the Sweet 16 (and their region,
seeds, game time, and what station is televising the game):
Stanford (2008) vs. (11) Dayton (1984) - Thursday 3/27 7:15 ET CBS
Florida (2013) vs. (4) UCLA (2008) - Thursday 3/27 9:45 ET CBS
Wisconsin (2012) vs. (6) Baylor (2012) - Thursday 3/27 7:47 ET TBS
Arizona (2013) vs. (4) San Diego State (2011) - Thursday 3/27 10:17 ET TBS
Michigan (2013) vs. (11) Tennessee (2010) - Friday 3/28 7:15 ET CBS
Louisville (2013) vs. (8) Kentucky (2012)- Friday 3/28 9:45 ET CBS
Region (New York)
Iowa State (2000) vs. (7) Connecticut (2011) - Friday 3/28 7:27 ET CBS
Virginia (1995) vs. (4) Michigan State (2013) - Friday 3/28 9:57 ET CBS
you're like me -- and you better pray to Kuato that you're not –- you not only
love the NCAA Tournament, but you are fascinated with the history and
statistical minutiae associated with the tournament. Like I've done the last couple years, I'm
going to drop knowledge bombs on your mind.
Here are twelve fun facts –- you get two extra because I have some extra
time on my hands right now -- about this year's NCAA tournament.
12. Three of the four 12-seeds won in the first
round (Harvard, North Dakota State, and Stephen F. Austin), and if NC State
could have hit its free throws, it could have been the first-ever four-game
sweep for 12-seeds. As it stands, it's
the second year in a row and 4th overall since the tournament expanded to 64
teams in 1985 that three 12-seeds have beaten 5-seeds (2002, 2009, 2013). In that same span, there have been only 3
years in which no 12-seed has beaten a 5-seed (1988, 2000, 2007).
11. Arizona and Dayton are coached by brothers
Sean Miller and Archie Miller, respectively.
This is the first time two brothers have coached teams in the Sweet 16
in the same year.
10. Thus far, there have been 6 overtime games in
the tournament, which is one OT game short of the record for the most overtime
games in an entire NCAA Tournament. The
5 OT games in the Round of 64 and the 4 of those that occurred on one day were
also records. There were two overtime
games combined in the previous two years.
9. Albany, Cal Poly, Mercer, North Dakota State,
and Stephen F Austin all won their first ever NCAA Tournament games. North Dakota State's win over Oklahoma in the
Round of 64 was the first ever win in the NCAA Tournament by a team from North
Dakota. 14-seed Mercer's upset win over
3-seed Duke marked the 18th time since 1985 that a 14-seed has beaten a 3-seed
(and second year in a row). It was not
only the Bears' first NCAA Tournament victory ever, but it was the second time
in the last three years that Duke has lost in the Round of 64 and only the 4th
time Duke has lost in the Round of 64 in the 34 years Mike Krzyzewski has been
the Blue Devils' head coach.
8. With Harvard's win over Cincinnati in the
Round of 64, the Crimson won an NCAA Tournament game for the second year in a
row, which is the first time in program history that has happened. This marks the first time in 30 years -–
since Princeton did it in 1983 and 1984 –- that an Ivy League team has won an
NCAA Tournament game two years in a row, and the sixth time ever that has
happened (Dartmouth 1941-1944; Princeton 1964-1965; Penn 1971-1973; Penn
1978-1980; Princeton 1983-1984; Harvard 2013-2014). Also, with those 2 wins, head coach Tommy
Amaker has now won as many NCAA Tournament games in his 7 years at Harvard as he
did in his combined 10 years as head coach at Seton Hall (2 wins) and Michigan
7. The Big Ten has three teams in the Sweet 16
for the third year in a row and for the 13th time since the NCAA started
allowing more than two teams per conference into the tournament in 1980. This bodes well for the Big Ten, as at least
one Big Ten has made the Final Four 10 of 13 years in which the conference has
had at least 3 teams in the Sweet 16.
Here is the breakdown:
6. Wichita State became the first team in NCAA
Division 1 history to go 35-0, by destroying Cal Poly in the Round of 64. The Shockers then lost to Kentucky in the
next round (I still think Wichita State got screwed by the Selection Committee,
by the way), making it the fourth time in the last five years and 21st time
overall that a 1-seed lost in the Round of 32.
Here are the 1-seeds that have lost in the Round of 32 since the
tournament began seeding in 1979:
2014: Wichita State
2004: Kentucky, Stanford
2000: Arizona, Stanford
1994: North Carolina
1986: St. John's
1981: DePaul, Oregon State
1979: North Carolina
5. Two 2-seeds –- Kansas in the South Region and
Villanova in the East Region -- lost in the Round of 32. This marks the 31st time in the 36 years
since seeding began in 1979 that all four 2-seeds failed to advance to the
Sweet 16, and the 17th year since 1979 that two or more 2-seeds failed to make
the Sweet 16 (1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1999-2001, 2003-2006,
2008, 2012). In three of those years,
three 2-seeds failed to make the Sweet 16 (1990, 1999, 2000). 1982, 1989, 1995, 1996, and 2009 are the only
years in which all four 2-seeds advanced to the Sweet 16.
4. With 10-seed Stanford playing 11-seed Dayton
in the Sweet 16 in the South Region, it will guarantee that a double-digit seed
will advance to the Elite 8. Since the
tournament began using seeding in 1979, 15 teams seeded 10 or higher have
advanced to the Elite 8. Only three of them
have advanced to the Final Four, and each of those three lost in the semifinal
2011: #11 VCU*
2008: #10 Davidson
2006: #11 George Mason*
2002: #10 Kent State; #12 Missouri
2001: #11 Temple
1999: #10 Gonzaga
1997: #10 Providence
1991: #10 Temple
1990: #10 Texas; #11 Loyola Marymount
1987: #10 LSU
1986: #11 LSU*
1984: #10 Dayton
1979: #10 St. John's
*Advance to Final Four
3. The average seed number for Sweet 16 teams
this year is 4.9375, making this the fifth year in a row the average seed
number is higher than 4.5 and the eighth-highest average seed number in the
Sweet 16 since the tournament began seeing teams in 1979. This is pretty high if you consider that, if
the seeding played out as it should (i.e., all teams seeded 1-4 advancing to
the Sweet 16, which has never happened), the average seed number would be 2.5.
Here is the average seed of Sweet 16 teams since 1979:
2. There are 2 mid-majors in the Sweet 16, which
is only the third time in the last ten years and the 10th time since 1979 that
there are 2 or fewer mid-majors in the Sweet 16. (I consider non-BCS conferences to
be mid-majors, even if a school is now in a BCS conference, so, for instance,
Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, and Marquette were mid-majors before joining
the Big East in 2005. It's not a perfect science. Deal with it.) Here is a
year-by-year breakdown of the number of mid-major teams that made it to the
Sweet 16 since 1979:
1. This year, there are 4 teams seeded 8 or lower
that advanced to the Sweet 16. For the
fourth year in a row (and the fifth year in the last six), there are at least
three double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16.
Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the number of teams seeded #8 or
lower that made it to the Sweet 16 since 1979:
I heard this one on the radio early today, and it seemed like an appropriate Retro Video of the Week, since the Big Dance kicks off tomorrow. "Safety Dance" is one of the strangely iconic videos from the '80s, with its pied-piper-fair-maiden-and-midgets theme. I went with the long version -- which features a catchy little '80s synth riff and some chick spelling out "safety" -- because it's even more '80s than the regular version. My first memory of Men Without Hats was during rehearsals for my school talent show when I was in fourth grade. A group of hot sixth graders performed the band's 1987 Top 20 hit "Pop Goes The World," so of course, I liked the song. I heard "Safety Dance" (which was released in 1983 and went all the way to #3 on the Billboard charts) around that time and saw the video around then too. I was struck by how hardcore the narrator was about dancing: "'Cause your friends don't dance / And if they don't dance / Then they're no friends of mine." He refused to be friends with anyone who didn't dance. It seemed irrational. Some people just don't like to dance, but they're not all bad. As it turns out, the song is written about the lead singer getting kicked out of a club for pogoing -- the punk/new wave style of moshing, not using a pogo stick, which would have been a much better story. Enjoy the video and the song, and good luck with your brackets.
bracket was announced Sunday night, and it did nothing but confirm my belief
that this year's tournament is going to be crazy.
are a couple initial random thoughts:
are 10 teams –- Florida, Arizona, Louisville, Michigan State, Virginia, Kansas,
Michigan, Villanova, Duke, Syracuse -- that I think have legitimate shots of
winning it all, but I wouldn't be surprised if none of them cuts down the nets,
given how this year has gone.
Midwest Region is the toughest region in recent memory and has been aptly named
the Region of Death. For going 34-0,
Wichita State got a 1-seed in a group with defending champ Louisville (to whom Wichita State lost in the Final Four last year), Big Ten
regular season champ (and Final Four team last year) Michigan, Duke, and preseason
#1 Kentucky (as an 8-seed, who Wichita State may play in the second game). What a slap in the face to the Shockers. If they make it to Indianapolis (where the
Midwest Region Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be held), they are the farthest
from Indy of any of the top 5 seeds in the region.
8/9 game in the West between Gonzaga and Oklahoma State should be really
good. Oklahoma State is underseeded, and
Gonzaga always plays better in the underdog role. Either one can beat Arizona in the next
Big Ten could have four Final Four teams:
Ohio State in the South, Michigan State in the East, Michigan in the
Midwest, and Wisconsin in the West. I'm
not saying it's going to happen. I'm
just saying they could all get to Dallas.
here are a couple lists of five teams each in a few categories that you should
consider when filling out your brackets.
Expect there to be some contradictions, since that's the nature of
predicting the NCAA Tournament. Teams
are in alphabetical order. So you don't
think I'm entirely full of shit, I'll put in parentheses what I correctly
predicted last year.
with the best shot at winning it all (last year, I correctly put Louisville on
1. Arizona (1-seed West). In my opinion, Arizona has the toughest Round
of 32 matchup, facing either Gonzaga or Oklahoma State. If they get past that, though, I think they
have pretty smooth sailing to the Final Four.
The Wildcats have been a top 3 team for most of the season, and the
Pac-12 is tougher this year than it has been in years past.
2. Florida (1-seed South). The Gators have a relatively easy path to the
Final Four, and they are as good as any other team in the country. They have only lost twice this season -– by 6
points to Wisconsin in Madison on November 12 and by one point to UConn in
Storrs on December 2. Of course, the SEC
is terrible, so their level of competition hasn't been what it has been in
3. Louisville (4-seed Midwest). The defending champs are in the Region of
Death, but they are the reason it's the Region of Death. Louisville has been playing really well the
last few weeks, and many people though they deserved a 1-seed. Assuming, of course, that the Cardinals make
it to the second weekend, as I noted above, Louisville is less than two hours
from Indianapolis, so there will be a lot of Cardinals fans in Indy, which can
only help their chances.
4. Michigan State (4-seed East). If you've watched SportsCenter or any NCAA Tournament-based
shows over the last few days, you know that MSU is the sexy pick to win it
all. While the Spartans (who were ranked
#1 for a few weeks early in the season) stumbled in the middle of the season,
they had some key injuries. Everyone is
healthy now, and Tom Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours.
5. Wichita State (1-seed Midwest). I think the Shockers are very good, and have
the talent and attitude to win it all.
That said, they're not higher on this list for three reasons. First, they are undefeated. They have done a great job thus far of not
letting that affect their playing, but this is the NCAA Tournament, not the
Missouri Valley Conference. Expectations
are ramped up, and opponents will be gunning for Wichita State. Second, they are in the Region of Death. Just to get to the Final Four, they likely have
to go through Kentucky, Louisville, and Michigan or Duke. Third, history is not on the Shockers' side. Since seeding began in the NCAA Tournament in
1979, mid-majors (defined relatively loosely as teams not in a "big
6" conference at the time) have been a 1-seed 18 times and a 2-seed 20 times. Only three of those teams have won the
title. Granted, 13 have made it to the
Final Four, but nearly as many (11) have lost in the Round of 32.
Four sleepers (teams seeded 4 or higher) (last year, I correctly put Michigan
and Syracuse on this list):
1. Connecticut (7-seed East). UConn has the talent to knock off Villanova,
Iowa State, and anyone else in that region.
2. Louisville (4-seed Midwest). A 4-seed for the defending champ is a slap in
the face, especially considering how well they played the last few weeks.
3. Michigan State (4-seed East). Like I said above, MSU is now healthy, which
means that the Spartans are more on the 1- or 2-seed level.
4. Ohio State (6-seed South). Never underestimate Thad Matta in March. Ohio State was up and down this year, but
have been playing pretty well the last two weeks. When they are playing at their best, the
Buckeyes are capable of beating Syracuse, Kansas, and Florida.
5. Oklahoma State (9-seed West). Oklahoma State is underseeded, and Marcus
Smart is a game-changing player that can spark the Cowboys to a deep run. If you think a 9-seed can't make it to the
Final Four, consider that 3 teams seeded 8 or higher have made the Final Four in
the last 3 years.
seeded 4 or lower who may not make it to the second weekend (last year, I
correctly put Kansas State and New Mexico on this list):
1. Duke (3-seed Midwest). 'Cause fuck Duke.
2. Syracuse (3-seed South). Syracuse is a boom-or-bust tournament
team. The Orange will likely meet Ohio
State in the Round of 32, and the Buckeyes are more than capable of winning
3. UCLA (4-seed South). This year, UCLA has a tough draw in the first
weekend, with Tulsa in the Round of 64 and either VCU or Stephen F. Austin in
the Round of 32. Steve Alford hasn't
coached a team to the Sweet 16 since his last season at Southwest Missouri
State in 1999. Since then, he is 3-6 in
the NCAA Tournament and has never beaten a team seeded lower than his team.
4. Villanova (2-seed East). Villanova is capable of going to the Final
Four or losing in the second round to UConn or St. Joseph's.
5. Wisconsin (2-seed West). The Badgers are the Minnesota Twins of
college basketball. They always play
well (some might even say they overachieve) in the regular season, but can't
quite seem to get it done in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin has made the NCAA Tournament in
each of Bo Ryan's 13 seasons as head coach.
Out of the previous 12 visits under Ryan, they have made it as far as
the Elite 8 once (2005) and to the second weekend only five times. Under Ryan, the Badgers have been knocked out
of the Tournament by higher seeds 5 of the last 7 years.
seeded 12 or higher with the best chance of pulling an upset in the first round
(last year, I correctly put Cal, Mississippi, and Oregon on this list):
1. Harvard (12-seed East). The Crimson only lost four games this season,
and two of those were to UConn and Colorado (two tournament teams). They also won a game in last year's NCAA
Tournament, so they have the experience.
Also, they're wicked smaht.
2. NC State (12-seed Midwest). The Wolfpack has been playing well as of
late, and they have ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren, who just broke the NC
State single-season scoring record. I
think they have a pretty decent shot at knocking off St. Louis, who has kind of
faltered the last few weeks.
3. Stephen F. Austin (12-seed South). The Lumberjacks are 31-2 and have won 28 in a
4. Tulsa (13-seed South). The Golden Hurricane –- coached by former
NCAA Tournament MOP Danny Manning –- play UCLA.
See the previous section.
5. Western Michigan (14-seed South). The Broncos play Syracuse in the Round of
64. Syracuse will either beat them by 20
The brackets for the NCAA Tournament have been announced, and it's looking like it's going to be a crazy tournament, with the "Region of Death" in the Midwest Region, a few teams seeded way lower than they should be (Louisville, Michigan State), and some really tough double-digit seeds. But I will wait until tomorrow to give you some serious NCAA Tournament analysis for your bracket-filling-out pleasure. Today's post is about one of the funniest traditions and one that you should invite with open arms in all of your pools: the mascot bracket. This is where people who know little about college basketball -- be it children, elderly women, or hipsters -- submit a bracket where the winners are chosen based on the mascots of the schools playing each other. As I mentioned a couple years ago, one of my former co-worker's 6- or 7-year-old son would enter a mascot bracket each year, and it was always awesome, but especially when he ended up with an NC State-Nevada final. Wolfpack vs. Wolf Pack. It was $5 well spent, since last place in the office pool got $5 back. Maybe the kid had a brilliant strategy after all. This year, I have filled out 17 brackets so far, one of which will earn me a billion dollars. My 18th bracket -- which will not be for money -- will be named Mascot Fight. Here is what's going down. Expect contradictions and to have your mind blown. South Region Play-in game: (16) Albany Great Danes vs. (16) Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers. Great Danes are pretty big dogs, but not big enough to overcome the rifle of a mountaineer. Winner: Mount St. Mary's. Round of 64: (1) Florida Gators vs. (16) Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers. Mountaineers are savvy in mountain regions. When they get to the swamp, it's another story. Death roll, commence. Winner: Florida. (8) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (9) Pittsburgh Panthers. If the white man can kill a buffalo, a panther sure as shit can kill a buffalo. Winner: Pitt (5) VCU Rams vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. While I'm not exactly sure how a school in Nacogdoches, Texas is named the Lumberjacks, I'll take a guy from Texas with a chainsaw over a ram any day. Winner: Stephen F. Austin (4) UCLA Bruins vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Not being familiar with hurricanes, much less those of a gilded nature, the Bruins would probably go outside during the eye and think it's over. Then comes the second half of the hurricane, which kills bears, no matter what you call 'em. Winner: Tulsa (6) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (11) Dayton Flyers. Buckeyes are poisonous nuts, but to become a pilot, you generally have to have your shit together. Rather than eating the Buckeyes, the Flyers step on them. Winner: Dayton (3) Syracuse Orange vs. (14) Western Michigan Broncos. Animals always beat colors. Winner: Western Michigan (7) New Mexico Lobos vs. (10) Stanford Cardinal. The "Cardinal" in Stanford refers to a color, not a bird. Either way, New Mexican wolves win. Winner: New Mexico (2) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (15) Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Military men can probably handle an alt-country band. Winner: Eastern Kentucky Round of 32: (1) Florida Gators vs. (9) Pittsburgh Panthers. This is a tough match-up. Both are steely predators who stalk their prey very well. I think the fact that they will be playing in Orlando give the Gators the advantage. Winner: Florida (12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. (13) Tulsa Golden Hurricane. They know how to deal with hurricanes in Texas. Winner: Stephen F. Austin (11) Dayton Flyers vs. (14) Western Michigan Broncos. You think some fly boy can tame a bucking bronco? He sure does. Arrogance dooms the Flyer to a concussion and a lot of internal bleeding. Winner: Western Michigan (7) New Mexico Lobos vs. (15) Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Wolves hang out in packs. Colonels from Kentucky hang out in chicken coops. Wolves dominate chicken coops. Winner: New Mexico Sweet 16: (1) Florida Gators vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Lumberjacks, while handy with a chainsaw, aren't quick enough to escape that split-second murderability of a gator. Winner: Florida (7) New Mexico Lobos vs. (14) Western Michigan Broncos. Wolves eat horses. Winner: New Mexico Elite 8: (1) Florida Gators vs. (7) New Mexico Lobos. The South Regional semis and final are being played in Memphis. Memphis is a river town. Game Gators. Winner: Florida East Regional Round of 64: (1) Virginia Cavaliers vs. (16) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Anyone whose ever seen Rock-A-Doodle knows that Chanticleer is a badass. Cavaliers are a bit too foppish to handle the machismo and sun-beckoning power of Chanticleer. Winner: Coastal Carolina (8) Memphis Tigers vs. (9) George Washington Colonials. There were no tigers in the New World, which is a problem for the Colonials. Winner: Memphis. (5) Cincinnati Bearcats vs. (12) Harvard Crimson. Once again, animals -- especially hybrids -- always beat colors. Winner: Cincinnati (4) Michigan State Spartans vs. (13) Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. 300 vs. a spray-painted female fowl? Winner: Michigan State (6) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (11) Providence Friars. Poor guy got his heel stuck in some tar, and a clergyman raped the shit out of him. Winner: Providence (3) Iowa State Cyclones vs. (14) North Carolina Central Eagles. If North Carolina Central's mascot was the Mobile Homes, this would be another story, but eagles can fly higher than funnel clouds. Winner: North Carolina Central (7) Connecticut Huskies vs. (10) St. Joseph's Hawks. Have you ever seen a husky snap a hawk right out of mid air? Neither have I. Winner: St. Joseph's (2) Villanova Wildcats vs. (15) Milwaukee Panthers. In the hierarchy of predatory felines, panthers trump wildcats. Winner: Milwaukee Round of 32: (8) Memphis Tigers vs. (16) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Chanticleer has a soft spot for cats. That's unfortunate because you should never let a tiger get too close to a bird. Winner: Memphis (4) Michigan State Spartans vs. (5) Cincinnati Bearcats. Leonidas rallies the troops to slay the mythical beast with the strength of a bear and reflexes of a tabby. Winner: Michigan State (11) Providence Friars vs. (14) North Carolina Central Eagles. Friars have weird haircuts that leave the tops of their heads bald. Eagles have talons. Winner: North Carolina Central (10) St. Joseph's Hawks vs. (15) Milwaukee Panthers. Cats eat birds. Winner: Milwaukee Sweet 16: (4) Michigan State Spartans vs. (8) Memphis Tigers. I'm pretty sure tigers are house cats in Sparta. Winner: Michigan State (14) North Carolina Central Eagles vs. (15) Milwaukee Panthers. Cats eat birds. Winner: Milwaukee Elite 8: (4) Michigan State Spartans vs. (15 Milwaukee Panthers. I'm pretty sure panthers are the pets of the tigers that are house cats in Sparta. Winner: Michigan State West Region Round of 64: (1) Arizona Wildcats vs. (16) Weber State Wildcats. In a wildcat vs. wildcat matchup, I'll go with the one playing closer to home. Winner: Arizona (8) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys. While tenacious, bulldogs are no match for lassos, spurs, and pistols. Winner: Oklahoma State (5) Oklahoma Sooners vs. (12) North Dakota State Bison. We all know what happened to the bison when settlers moved across the Great Plains. Winner: Oklahoma State (4) San Diego State Aztecs vs. (13) New Mexico State Aggies. In 1487, the Aztecs are believed to have sacrificed over 80,000 prisoners. In four days. You think some ag student stands a chance? Winner: San Diego State (6) Baylor Bears vs. (11) Nebraska Cornhuskers. I'll take a bear over a guy shucking corn any day of the week. Winner: Baylor (3) Creighton Bluejays vs. (14) Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. Angry Cajuns probably eat birds. Winner: Louisiana-Lafayette (7) Oregon Ducks vs. (10) BYU Cougars. Even Mormon cougars murder ducks. Winner: BYU (2) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (15) American Eagles. This is a tough one. On one hand, badgers are feisty. On the other hand, eagles can swoop down and pick up badgers. Winner: American Round of 32: (1) Arizona Wildcats vs. (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys. When you sleep on the range, you know how to protect yourself against a wildcat. Winner: Oklahoma State (4) San Diego State Aztecs vs. (5) Oklahoma Sooners. If Oklahoma's mascot was small pox, this would be an easy victory for Oklahoma. As it is, Aztecs would likely slaughter the men, women, and children trying to settle the Oklahoma Territory. Winner: San Diego State (6) Baylor Bears vs. (14) Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. When Cajuns get mad, they try to make bear étouffée. When Cajuns try to make bear étouffée, bears eat Cajuns. Winner: Baylor (10) BYU Cougars vs. (15) American Eagles. Cougars are just too big for eagles to swoop down and pick up. Winner: BYU Sweet 16: (4) San Diego State Aztecs vs. (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys. This is a tough one, but last time white men with guns and horses ran into the Aztecs, things didn't work out so well for the Aztecs. Winner: Oklahoma State (6) Baylor Bears vs. (10) BYU Cougars. Bears are bigger than cougars. One slap with that giant paw would send any cougar reeling. A cougar on its back is bear food. Winner: Baylor. Elite 8: (6) Baylor Bears vs. (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys. Cowboys know that they should put their food in a cooler and hang it at least ten feet high. Winner: Oklahoma State Midwest Region Play-ins: (11) Iowa Hawkeyes vs. (11) Tennessee Volunteers. The eye of a hawk has literally no defense mechanism. Winner: Tennessee (12) NC State Wolfpack vs. (12) Xavier Musketeers. You know what beats a wolf pack? Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting. All for love. Winner: Xavier (16) Cal Poly Mustangs vs. (16) Texas Southern Tigers. No real competition here. Winner: Texas Southern Round of 64: (1) Wichita State Shockers vs. (16) Texas Southern Tigers. Without having a complete grasp on the reproductive system of the tiger, I cannot conclusively state that a shocker would slay a tiger like it does to some lady humans. There also might be male tigers, on whom a shocker would not only be ineffective, but would also probably cause some mauling. Winner: Texas Southern (8) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (9) Kansas State Wildcats. Fuck Kentucky. Winner: Kansas State (5) St. Louis Billikens vs. (12) Xavier Musketeers. A billiken is a charm doll. Winner: Xavier (4) Louisville Cardinals vs. (13) Manhattan Jaspers. The Jaspers are named after a priest who invented the seventh inning stretch. Cardinals are weak birds. Winner: Manhattan (6) Massachusetts Minutemen vs. (11) Tennessee Volunteers. I'll take the founders of 'Merica over Tennessee residents who volunteered for later wars. Winner: Massachusetts (3) Duke Blue Devils vs. (14) Mercer Bears. The devil controls nearly all animals, including bears. Winner: Duke (7) Texas Longhorns vs. (10) Arizona State Sun Devils. The sun devil has a trident with which to gore the longhorn before the longhorn gores it. Winner: Arizona State (2) Michigan Wolverines vs. (15) Wofford Terriers. Per the Wofford website, their mascot appears to be a Boston Terrier. Not that it matters what kind of terrier it is. Winner: Michigan Round of 32: (9) Kansas State Wildcats vs. (16) Texas Southern Tigers. Tigers trump wildcats. Winner: Texas Southern (12) Xavier Musketeers vs. (13) Manhattan Jaspers. One priest is no match for three dudes with swords. Winner: Xavier (3) Duke Blue Devils vs. (6) Massachusetts Minutemen. Who do you think spearheaded the American Revolution? God? Winner: Duke (2) Michigan Wolverines vs. (10) Arizona State Sun Devils. Wolverines are quicker than tridents, so I assume that once the sun devil throws the trident and misses, the wolverine will eat his legs off. Winner: Michigan Sweet 16: (12) Xavier Musketeers vs. (16) Texas Southern Tigers. Tigers eat French guys, even ones with swords. Winner: Texas Southern (2) Michigan Wolverines vs. (3) Duke Blue Devils. Wolverines are the spawn of the devil. But would the devil kill its own spawn? Yes. It's the devil. Winner: Duke Elite 8: (3) Duke Blue Devils vs. (16) Texas Southern Tigers. You know who put the stripes on a tiger? The devil. You've gotten this far, tiger, but your run is over. Winner: Duke Final Four (1) Florida Gators vs. (4) Michigan State Spartans. This would be an all-out battle. A lot of blood would be left on the court, but ultimately, no beast can tame Sparta. Winner: Michigan State (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. (3) Duke Blue Devils. Cowboys know how to handle a lot of situations -- runaway steer, wildcats, bears, awkward silence -- but the devil can't be tamed by rugged outdoorsmanship. Winner: Duke Championship (4) Michigan State Spartans vs. (3) Duke Blue Devils. As you may recall, tonight, the Spartans plan to dine in hell. The only way you dine in hell is if you know the devil or if you're gonna storm hell and take all the devil's food. If it's the first option, the Spartans will get invited to dinner in hell and then murder the devil in his own house and eat his food. If it's the second option, the Spartans will break into hell and then murder the devil in his own house and eat his food. Either way, the Spartans dine in hell and the devil's dead at their hand. Winner: Michigan State