2014 NCAA MASCOT DEATHBRACKET: East Region

Joe Murphy

Why play basketball when you can make mascots battle to the death?

SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

Get your full printable bracket here. For (serious) bracket predictions, head over here.

First Four

The NCAA Tournament bracket produces a web of matchups far more interesting than any basketball game: MASCOT BATTLES TO THE DEATH. Our goal is to systematically work through one-on-one matchups of school mascots until we establish a Final Four of mascots and eventually a champion. We know this is not an original idea, but ... well, someone has to do it, and we feel qualified.

Take this bloody journey with us, starting with the East Region:

ROUND 1

#1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Rodger Sherman
I think the committee took into account the sounds of each name.

Seth Rosenthal
Yeah, and i like that. I like a rhyming matchup.
You sound like you're singing "We Didn't Start The Fire" when you talk about this game.
What is the Virginia Cavalier? What's that a reference to?

Rodger
it actually dates back to Royalists in the 1600's.

Seth
That's a weird thing to name your team after.

Rodger
Meanwhile, Cleveland is just fucking riffing with their cavalier.
For the uninitiated: a Chanticleer is a rooster. It's from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
It means "clear singing."
I also think it's pretty clear a dude with a sword would easily murder a rooster.

Seth
We used to have placemats with pictures of barnyard animals and their french names on them, and it said "chanticleer" for rooster.
But Google translate disagrees.

Rodger
Yeah. "Coq."

Seth
I think it gets used as a poetic title for a rooster, though.
The actual Coastal Carolina chanticleer is muscly as fuck.

Coastal-carolina-chanticleers-mascot-monday

And it has a nutsack on its chin and no pupils.
And teeth.

Rodger
He can be as muscly as he wants. The Cavalier rides a horse and has a sword.

Seth
Yeah, in the end, that muscle is just more meat for the Cavalier to eat.
Shit, maybe the Cavalier raised the chanticleer and beefed it up with hormones.

Rodger
No. 1 seed rolls.

Seth
Easily. Human > small animal, even if it's roided out.

Rodger
It's worth noting that in the Canterbury Tale in question, the Chanticleer uses his wit to outsmart a fox that has captured him in his teeth.
But the Cavalier ain't falling for that.

Seth
No sir.

#8 Memphis Tigers vs. #9 George Washington Colonials

Seth
Similar battle, just upped the ante.
Old timey settler vs. animal, just a way more fearsome animal.

Rodger
It's worth noting that the George Washington Colonial mascot is not just any colonial. It's pretty clearly George Washington. It's even named George.

Header_mascot11

Seth
I didn't know that. So we've got an actual US President vs. a Bengal tiger. I just learned Memphis has a real Bengal named Tom.
Sorry, TOM.

Rodger
Now, I consider myself a patriot
and I believe our founding fathers were great men
but
I also think any single one of them would've gotten ripped to shreds by a tiger.

Seth
This George doesn't appear to be armed, either, unless you count his little hatchet in that photo.

Rodger
If the Continental Army had been fighting an army of tigers and not the redcoats, they'd have been DOOMED.

Seth
You know
The British should have been able to make that happen, in retrospect.
When you've got an empire spanning all sorts of tropical locales, maaaaaybe try out some fierce animal warriors before sending your own men out.

Rodger
Hypothetically, George Washington could've, like, commanded his army to shoot the tiger. But in this scenario it's one-on-one. RIP, big guy.

Seth
Assassination by tiger :(

Rodger
The United States' capital is now Bengaltiger, DC.

#5 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #12 Harvard Crimson

Rodger
So Seth and I have talked about this a bit. Hypothetically, it's impossible to kill/defeat crimson, since it's just a color.

Seth
The thing with this one is
I'm taking a bearcat no matter what.

Rodger
BINTURONG.

Seth
Binturongs aren't really that fearsome
But I imagine they'd defend themselves pretty well.
Especially against a shade of red.

Rodger
We could really go one of two ways. We could reward Harvard for having a color as a mascot and say it's unkillable
or we could be like "YOUR MASCOT IS A COLOR AND NOT A THING"
And I'm tempted to do the latter.

Seth
I also am in this case.
Binturongs are supposed to smell like popcorn
if we need a tiebreaker.
Crimson does not smell like popcorn.

Rodger
If picking the Bearcats here is Binturong, I don't want to be Binturight.

Seth
BOOM done.

#4 Michigan State Spartans vs. #13 Delaware Blue Hens

Seth
More fowl.
You found some clarity on what a Blue Hen is recently, didn't you?

Rodger
Funny you should mention that.
A Blue Hen is not just a Hen that is blue. There's a specific breed of chicken called the Blue Hen of Delaware. You can have a blue hen rooster and a blue hen hen.
Which is disappointing, because I thought it would've been empowering for there to be a male sports team called the hens.

Seth
Yeah! Don't see a lot of explicitly female mascots.

Rodger
You see a lot of male mascots that schools sometimes awkwardly adopt female team names for.
But not the other way around.


Seth
Lady Wolfpack and such.
Always thought that should be Shewolfpack.
What are Blue Hens bred for?

Rodger
Blue hens are bred for food, y'all.

Seth
Wikipedia says they also fight some.
Or did.
But we're wasting time here, because ... Spartan.

Rodger
Spartan.
I'd like to try and make sure we realize we're discussing real Spartans and not the dudes from 300.

Seth
Of course.

Rodger
A Greek dude with a spear who spent his life fighting, tho
still gonna kill a rooster.

Seth
Yes, still an extremely able-bodied, disciplined warrior.

Rodger
Murder most fowl, y'all.

Seth
It's been a sorry first round for chickens.
Who's next?

Usatsi_7540388

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

#6 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #11 Providence Friars

Seth
I'm looking at the history of the Tar Heel name.
It's pretty literal. Either Revolutionary War soldiers dumped tar in a river to slow down the British
or in the Civil War, North Carolina soldiers threatened to stick their hesitant comrades to the battlefield with tar?

Rodger
I think it might be more useful to discuss Rameses, the UNC mascot, who is a Ram.

Seth
Yeah, do we go with the mascot or the mascot here?

Rodger
I'm really not a fan of schools who have a team name, then a mascot that's just different. It's like people who name their kids with a nickname in mind.

Seth
Yes, we both hate that
I'm inclined to go with Tar Heel, then.
Even though a ram is pretty badass. Y'all miss out because you couldn't pick one thing.
"Tar heel" is weird because it describes the victim in the stories.

Rodger
However, I feel the term generally refers to somebody from North Carolina.

Seth
Right.

Rodger
And it's fighting a monk.

Seth
So should we just take the average North Carolinan?

Rodger
No, we shouldn't.
We should pick a specific North Carolinian. Luckily, I have a rolodex here of every person from North Carolina, so let's give it a whirl
/spins rolodex
Let's see who we got here
Wow
James Dator?
What a stroke of luck.

Seth
Too bad it's James and not K-Ci and/or Jo Jo, though
No disrespect to J-Date

Rodger
It looks like I was one off from Petey Pablo.

Seth
SHIT.
Oh well.
So, James vs. a Friar

Rodger
The thing is I think a Friar is going to be peaceful? Even though the mascot itself is nightmare fuel:

4003802965

Seth
Definitely.
Although James also seems pretty peaceful.
It might be difficult to compel both to kill each other.

Rodger
The Friar has a higher power on his side.

Seth
He does.
They're not allowed to team up and move on to the next round, are they?

Rodger
No.

Seth
Too bad.
And ... RIP, James, I think.

Rodger
I think the Friar could coax [deity of choice] to strike down James, to be honest.

Seth
I think so too.
I hope the Friar is good at blogging.

Rodger
Should we bury him with George Washington?

Seth
James? Of course. That was going to happen one day anyway. Farewell, brother.

#3 Iowa State Cyclones vs. #14 North Carolina Central Eagles

Seth
Wow, great matchup.
Since you can't "kill" a Cyclone, I think the question is whether you can evade it until it dies out.

Rodger
I think NC Central wins here for two reasons, and I'll explain both.
First, we have an Eagle vs. a large storm. If the bird takes off, it's gonna die. It'll get blown off its path and probably into a building or piece of flying debris and die.
But yeah, it can evade. It can hunker down for the storm. If storms killed all birds in its path, there wouldn't be any birds.
Secondly: Iowa State's physical mascot is Cy, the Cardinal.
An Eagle would go to TOWN on a tiny little Cardinal.

Seth
I'm fine with all this, I think.
Are we assuming this is one on one in an open battle field? Can an eagle really dodge a cyclone without shelter options?

Rodger
Y'all ain't never seen a bird find itself a crevasse to take shelter in?
I do want to point out Iowa State's weird bird-storm hybrid.

Iu685g4n6nednmrq0s9pid1n6

(via content.sportslogos.net)

Seth
That's pretty terrifying.
Looks like the evil genie in Aladdin. The Jafar genie.
But then also a cardinal.

Rodger
Factual inaccuracies: Cardinals don't have teeth, they have wings instead of arms/fists, and THEY'RE NOT TORNADOES
Other than that, spot on.

#7 Connecticut Huskies vs. #10 St. Joseph's Hawks

Seth
Wow, that's hard.

Rodger
Air vs. land.

Seth
I have actually seen a dog fight a bird of prey.
Well, not fight.
But I grew up with labs and I've seen them tangle with turkey vultures.

Rodger
That was the one week I couldn't come to Seth's Exotic Animal Kingdom Death Corral.

Seth
Yeah dude, you missed out. We also had Fudgsicles.
But yeah a turkey vulture tried to fuck with my yellow lab and she scared it off.
This is a hawk, though.

Usatsi_6753364

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Rodger
I have a point specific to the St. Joseph's Hawk: I was at the A-10 Tournament all week, and sometimes the mascot would run around on the court flapping its wings
and dude is shedding pretty hard.
On at least three occasions a ref had to walk out and scoop up a feather.

Seth
Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of every student to ever portray the Hawk. You should check it out.
Oh yeah, I'm reading that the Hawk is supposed to flap endlessly.
"The Hawk represents the University's motto, "The Hawk Will Never Die" by flapping its wings non-stop (even during halftime) throughout every basketball game."
That's pretty intense.

Rodger
So, that's important. "The Hawk Will Never Die."

Seth
Ian Klinger currently portrays the Hawk.
Yeah that seems relevant
If we take them at their word

Rodger
Wow, I didn't realize this


Seth
It NEVER stops flapping.
It's like it has a horrible tic.
What if someone got badly hurt?
What if the fire alarm goes off?

Rodger
I'm watching a video about the guy
"People ask me if my arms get tired. They do."

Seth
That's great. If the Husky is smart, he'll use that to his advantage.
And huskies are pretty intelligent, I think.

Rodger
My personal theory in land vs. air matchups is that the flying animal has to come at the land animal.

Seth
Right, the flying animal pretty much gets to decide when the battle starts.


Rodger
Quite frankly I'm inclined to go with the husky. It's sturdier. The Hawk can't fly away with it.

Seth
Thick coat.

Rodger
The Hawk would need to swoop down on a ton of passes, and if the Husky is ready just once, it's game over.

Seth
Not easily pecked.
Yeah. A bigger bird, maybe. But assuming this is a red-tailed hawk, I agree with you.

Rodger
Game: Husky.
dawwwwww so cute with its blue eyes

Seth
That's how it gets you. It beguiles you, then it gnaws you to death.
That was a tough one.

Rodger
The last matchup in this region is pretty easy, in my opinion.

#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #15 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers

Seth
We should sort out "Wildcat" right now.
There is a species with the common name "wildcat"-- Felis silvestris, the progenitor of the housecat
but teams usually aren't referring to that
They never are.
Mountain lions, lynx, and bobcats all get called "wildcats" sometimes.
So I think we should go with what the wildcat in question most resembles or what it's supposed to be
And in the case of Villanova, the cat looks closest to a bobcat, and their website says as much.

Rodger
I'd prefer to punish teams for boring nicknames by sticking them with that Felis silvestris, which is a little bit bigger than a housecat.
But you're right, this is a bobcat.

Seth
I'll give them the colloquial benefit of the doubt
But anyway this doesn't matter because a panther fucks it up.

Rodger
EASY.

Any black panther kills any bobcat, or pretty much any "wildcat".


Seth
Unclear whether it's a leopard or jaguar or what, but any black panther kills any bobcat, or pretty much any "wildcat".

Rodger
We had cat on cat crime and bird on bird crime in this bracket, and both were pretty easy to solve.

Seth
I'm sad we're not gonna end up with rooster v. rooster. No cockfight.

ROUND 2

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Memphis Tigers

Seth
The Cavalier has a sword.

Rodger
Comes down to how well you think someone can defend themselves with a sword.

Seth
But he is one man vs. a whole Bengal tiger.
That matchup has certainly happened in real life, and I feel like it's gone both ways.

Rodger
How quickly can you swing a sword? Faster than a Tiger can pounce on your ass?

Seth
I just ... I don't think so.
Not the Cavalier.
He's just a Royalist.

Rodger
He's too hoity-toity to kill a tiger. Tiger wins.

Seth
Tiger wins and grows a goatee to mock the Cavalier.

Usatsi_7646890

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Michigan State Spartans

Seth
Bearcat can't actually fight.
Too lazy.
Spartan overpowers it anyway.

Rodger
The bearcat has Binturun out of gas in this exercise.

Seth
Does the Spartan have a weapon?
Like do we assume he does? He's not portrayed as holding one.

Rodger
Wow, I'm Bintur-on fire with these puns

Seth
He does have armor though.
Goddamn Binturodger Sherman over here
Do you take Spartan? I take Spartan.

Rodger
I take spartan. I think we imagine he has a spear.
Even if his mascot doesn't.

Seth
I buy that.

Providence Friars vs. North Carolina Central Eagles

Rodger
The Eagle is America, so this is Church vs. State.
I think the Eagle takes this one.

Seth
It's also vicious flying creature vs. James Dator's murderer
I want that Friar to die for killing James.
I also take Eagle.

Connecticut Huskies vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers

Seth
Poor doggy.

Rodger
Yeah i don't want to think about it.
I'm okay with James Dator and George Washington getting ripped to shreds, but ... puppy.

Seth
:(
Let's move on before you cry.

Rodger
We never specified James would get ripped to shreds, but apparently this Friar was a jerk

Seth
We specified in our heads.

ROUND 3

Michigan State Spartans vs. Memphis Tigers

Seth
Important again that the Spartan has armor.
So this is like the Cavalier battle but with a spear and armor instead of just a sword.

Rodger
There is that one scene in 300 where Leonidas kills a large mountain cat.
But WE ALREADY SAID ITS NOT THE 300 ONE

Seth
Indeed, but he'd still put up a fight I think.
But I lean tiger.

Rodger
I think more times than not.
Spartan definitely woulda beat the Cavalier.

Seth
For sure.
Too bad.

Rodger
Two thousand years of weapon technology somehow led to some dude with a mask on a horse.
Good job, Europe.

Seth
In the end, they're all just tiger food.

North Carolina Central Eagles vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers

Seth
Well, if a dog beat a hawk ...
This is pretty much the scaled up version of that match-up.

Rodger
Yeah, pretty much.
Whose music do you think is worse: The Eagles or Pantera?

Seth
Pantera.

Rodger
Yeah, but screw the Eagles, too.

Seth
Yes.

Rodger
So do we think the Panther moves on for the same reason as the husky?

Seth
I think so. Strong land animal.
Lacks the advantage of the sky, but mightier.
Doesn't matter anyway. Tiger's coming up.

ROUND 4

Memphis Tigers vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers

Rodger
Panther can hide in the trees all he wants.
At some point he's gonna have to try to bring the fight to the Tiger.

Seth
Tiger will chase his ass up there if he has to.
This is no contest.

Rodger
The Memphis Tiger destroys everything in his way in this bracket

Screen_shot_2014-03-17_at_2

THE #8 MEMPHIS TIGERS ADVANCE TO THE FINAL FOUR.

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