(Could this year be a Cinderella story for the Stanford Nightmare Tree?)
By Jared Jones
Every March, millions of college basketball fans/gambling addicts around the United States embrace bracketology: the art of fastidiously, obsessively crafting a March Madness bracket in the hopes of winning an office pool that cost all of five dollars to enter. And every year, these men who devoted countless, mind-numbing hours to the words of ESPN expert analysts and college sports blogs are inevitably out-bracketed by their girlfriends and moms, who picked Syracuse to win because they liked the name “Carmelo” or put Oregon in their elite eight because they thought Puddle was cute.
As Stanley Elkin theorized, God is a ruthless, unforgiving son of a bitch who only finds humor in dark, twisted ironies like the ones that occur during the NCAA basketball tournament. But this year, we shall stand in defiance of God’s will. We shall forgo the traditional analysis, and instead determine this season’s NCAA tournament winner based solely on extraneous intangibles — mainly, which team has the superior mascot. And this bracket shall win the day, Amen.
#3 Iowa State vs. #7 UConn
We shall begin our mascotology bracket with quite possibly the easiest matchup to pick a winner in. The University of Connecticut not only loses points for possessing a team name shared by every youth football program in America, but for choosing the equally unoriginal nickname for their mascot, Jonathan. Not Jon, Jonathan. You probably know this by now, but any man who makes it a point of emphasis to be called Jonathan instead of Jon is a pretentious douchebag who deserves to have his tongue removed through his anus. You hear that, Jonathan Willshire from Albany, NY? NOBODY LIKES YOU.
Iowa State, on the other hand, are named the Cyclones, yet have a Cardinal named Cy as their mascot. I don’t get it either.
Winner: Iowa State, because fuck Jonathan Willshire from Albany, NY? What? This is my bracket, I decide the rules!!
#1 Virginia vs. #4 Michigan State
For our next matchup, Michigan State’s “Sparty the Spartan” warrior takes on Virginia’s Cavalier, who is apparently too cool/mysterious to have an actual name. Like most of you, I learned everything I need to know about Spartan culture in 300, which leads me to believe that Sparty will come out into a hilariously homosexual loin cloth, scream about freedom for a bit, and kick the Cavalier into a bottomless pit. Then again, Lebron James was a Cavalier (albeit an entirely different one) for a brief time, so maybe Virginia’s mascot has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Who am I kidding? *covers chest in baby oil* THIS IS SPARTA!!!
Winner: Michigan State
#1 Arizona vs. #4 San Diego State
Had Arizona been named the Barn Cats, I would have picked them to win this tournament outright. But a Wildcat? Is that supposed to intimidate me or turn me on? Being that my pants are now two inches shorter than when I started writing this, I’m going to assume the latter. And while there’s not a doubt in my mind that San Diego state’s Aztec would easily dominate the whole lot of mascots in an actual fight, I’m not about to place my faith in a guy wearing sandals and carrying a conch shell.
#6 Baylor vs. #2 Wisconsin
Baylor’s mascot is a bear. Wisconsin’s is a badger. A bear would wipe the floor with a badger. Sometimes these things don’t require a lot of thought.
#8 Kentucky vs. #4 Louisville
Kentucky’s mascot is another goddamn Wildcat, and Louisville’s is another goddamn Cardinal. Jesus, isn’t the point of college to broaden one’s knowledge and creativity? It’d be one thing if every team named themselves the Sharks or the Optimus Primes or the Child Support Payments, but the fact that half the field has chosen to be represented by animals that can be defeated by a stiff breeze or a glass of water is further proof that we will all be speaking Chinese by 2016. Wake up, America! You’re soft as baby shit!
I fear for the day that I turn on ESPN to hear so-called expert analysts discuss the likelihood of the SUNY Pigeons defeating the California Pussy Willows in the Elite 8 *shudders*
Winner: Nobody, because unoriginality must be punished and this is the only way I can think to do so.
#11 Tennessee vs. #2 Michigan
We’re finally treated to some mascots with a pair of testicles when the Michigan Wolverines take on the Tennessee…Volunteers? God damn it, Tennessee. God. Damn. It.
Winner: Michigan, despite the fact that their understanding of what a wolverine looks like apparently comes from a 1980’s Japanese anime cartoon.
#10 Stanford vs. #11 Dayton
One of these schools has a mascot named Rudy Flyer, who is pilot with a size 27 boot that he is in no way afraid to stick up your ass because it’s the American way. The other school was named after a color and allows one of their band nerds to parade around the stadium dressed as a tree with cargo pants.
Winner: Who do you think, dummy?
#1 Florida Gators vs. #4 UCLA Bruins
Did you know that UCLA’s original mascots were live bears? Like, actual, in the stadium, use-your-small-child-as-a-shield bears? Well, they were. America used to be so much cooler, you know?
Anyways, it’s a classic “bring your wife” fight when Florida takes on UCLA, as both the Gators and the Bruins rally their fans with a pair of mascots: “Albert and Alberta Gator” and “Joe and Josie Bruin.” Without even delving into the matchup at hand, I can guarantee you that the people inside those costumes are nothing more than group of furry weirdos acting out their exhibitionist sexual fantasies under the false guise of “school spirit” (in front of children, no less). Florida and UCLA should be ashamed of themselves for peddling such smut.
In fact, I imagine that these four have quite a pre-game ritual set in store for tomorrow night. They’ll probably meet up in the locker rooms, dim down the lights, maybe pretend the communal shower is a watering hole or something, and in will walk Josie, conveniently absent of her cheerleading skirt and top. Asking for it. And you just know that she isn’t the type to shatter the inter-species breeding right from the get-go. Albert will have to earn it. He’ll have to earn it alright…
Like I said, shameful.
Winner: Florida. I cite this video of a crocodile killing a lion (a.k.a “The Bears of Africa,” as they are called by top zoologists) as evidence.