There will be plenty of brackets telling you about RPI or strength or schedule, but we're only concerned with the EPI of these teams. That's the coveted "Edibility Percentage Index," which distills these teams to one element -- their flavor and/or mouth-feel.
The 2016 field is a tough one. There are a lot of human-based teams that are confronting to even the most open and adventurous pallet. Experts said this was a year of parity, and that applies to the flavor profiles of these teams, too. Let's take a look at the bracket, and then we can break it down.
This is a really tough bracket with a few intangibles. This is a decidedly bird-dominant bracket, but they're mostly endangered or threatened animals. A lot of basketball fans will be mad at Wichita State going all the way, but for the purposes of EPI I'm assuming they're a man-made wheat. This bracketologist has no gluten allergies, so they make a deep run.
Photo via Andy Lyons, Getty Images
Matchup to watch: Colorado vs. South Dakota State
Both mascots are delicious if prepared properly, but often need the deft hand of a chef to make them shine. I've had buffalo -- it's good. In terms of South Dakota, I've eaten rabbit but never jackrabbit. This is a close one, folks.
This is where the delicious becomes the delectable. A murderers' row of flavors and smells. I know it's passe to pick a No. 1 seed, but nothing touches a well-prepared duck in this matchup -- no, not even you, Texas. Don't get me wrong, steak is amazing -- but don't even talk to me if you haven't had duck from a good restaurant before. There's only so much a chef can do with a steak. There are stratifications of duck that make it sublime.
Matchup to watch: Baylor Bears vs. UNC Wilmington Seahawks
I agonized over this one. I don't necessarily want to eat a bear, nor do I want to dine on a Seahawk. I imagine Seahawk tastes a lot like chicken, but with a weird overtone because the bird only eats fish. That doesn't really appeal to me. Bear is probably really tough and gamey, but I think it could be stewed.
The East is a pile of garbage from a food standpoint. There is very little appealing to eat in this bracket. First-round matchups like Providence vs. USC and West Virginia vs. Stephen F. Austin mean I'm a guaranteed cannibal. That's a hard pill to swallow.
Photo via Ed Zurga, Getty Images
Fairleigh Dickinson runs the table by default in this bracket. I ate horse in Montreal, and it was surprisingly delicious. That's all I have to go on.
Matchup to watch: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Stony Brook Seawolves
Neither a Wildcat nor a Seawolf sounds like good eating. Both are probably tough as hell and full of sinew. Bad seeding forced these teams together, and no matter who wins, my mouth loses.
Several intriguing games here and a few more cannibal contests. With both Hampton AND Seton Hall in the mix, there was a chance to eat pirates -- but I'm not down with that. Two reasons:
1. Pirate diseases. They have scurvy, rickets, weird-ass things you see in textbooks. If I wanted a pirate disease, I'd eat at Chipotle.
2. Low fat-meat ratio. I think the marbling on a pirate would be bad, making it notoriously difficult to cook.
Syracuse is the clear choice out of the Midwest. A good orange is sublime and has so many uses.
Matchup to watch: Purdue vs. Little Rock
A cannibal contest was the hardest decision in the Midwest. One man works in a boiler room; the other is a Spartan. Lots of sweating. Lots of overworked muscles. I had to go with the boilermaker in the hopes that prolonged exposure to steam softened his sweet meat.
Wheat vs. Duck and Horse vs. Orange. That's what this is all about.
I love wheat, but it needs to be turned into something. You give me some raw-ass wheat in a bowl, and that's not a meal. I need to do significant work to make that delicious, and baking has never been my strong suit. Duck, on the other hand, just needs a good hot pan and enough of a sear to render out the considerable amount of fat under the skin. I'm taking duck every time.
Horse was good once, but oranges are good every time I eat them. Edge: Orange.
National Championship, aka the "Duck a l'orange Showdown"
I wish I could have these two mascots as a meal, but there can only be one. Orange makes a strong case with its ability to fend off scurvy and provide much-needed vitamin C, but if you put me on a deserted island with just oranges, I'm pretty sure my muscles will atrophy and I die. Give me a flock of ducks, and I'll live like a king.
Congratulations to Oregon and their delicious duck for winning the national championship!
In case you don't know all the college mascots here's a bracket with their edibility.