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March Madness picks by which mascots would win in the octagon

Let’s make picks strictly off of mascot ferocity.

UFC 213: Nunes vs Shevchenko

Let’s face it, you’re not going to win your bracket pool by picking on knowledge, so throw caution to the wind and pick teams my way: solely based on which mascot is the most ferocious in a mythical octagon.

You’re probably thinking of an octagon sized to contain two MMA fighters. But you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling. We’ve got elephants, grizzly bears, literal herds of buffalo, and an entire religious sect among our list. So take the term octagon as a figure of speech.

And when we mention mascots, we’re talking the literal versions, not the plush costumes that are cute and cuddly. Also, when the physical mascot is an animal that doesn’t match the team’s nickname (Texas A&M, Tennessee, etc.), we’ll use the literal embodiment of the nickname. Except for Miami. The Canes are represented, and that’s easier than creating barometric pressure conditions inside an octagon that mimic a Category 5.

Alright, let’s play this thing out.

(Editor’s note: No animals were harmed in the production of this article.)


Gotta love Virginia’s dude on a horse with a sword to get all the way to the Sweet 16 — particularly against regular dude in a large wildcat head repping Kansas State. I’m going to break my own rule and say that Kansas State will be represented by the dude in the head in our fictional octagon.

Auburn v Kansas State

With the cavalier, however, I think a bull could topple that dude off the horse, and then it’d be curtains for him rather quickly. It’s basically a bull fight at that point, and this guy doesn’t have sufficient matador skills.

Virginia Tech v Virginia Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Tennessee’s mascot is a dude with a musket. That’s highly inefficient, as far as reloading goes. Maybe he could get past the dog mascots. But he ain’t doing a damn thing against a longhorn.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

And I don’t think that steer beats a bull.


Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in this region is that of the Cal State Fullerton Titan and the Purdue Boilermaker in the first round. Basically, a Boilermaker is the colloquial term for a Purdue student. Purdue’s a really good engineering school, but the mascot is literally a train.

You’re thinking Titans are giant demigods from Greek literature, right? Well, this video explains why that size may not be as much of an advantage as you’d think.

I don’t know, the train could just ram the titan ‘til it falls over or something.

Our other Elite Eight entrant is Marshall, a Thundering Herd of buffalo. While one Alabama pachyderm is imposing (that’s the actual mascot despite the nickname: Crimson Tide), we’re talking about an entire herd here. No chance for the elephant.


I’m riding Chief Osceola, the fierce Seminole warrior mascot, all the way to the Elite Eight.

Florida Gators v Florida State Seminoles Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

First of all, Osceola bested many a musketeer in his day, and it took deceit by the US Army to capture him, leading to his death in prison. Native Americans actually ate buckeye nuts, which are poisonous in their raw form and would get Osceola past Ohio State in the next round.

But the party’s over once Osceola meets a grizzly bear. I mean, have you seen what those things can do?


While the Jayhawk is fictional cross between a blue jay and a hawk, the name refers to Kansans of the 19th century. The bird still beats a Penn Quaker whether its real or not. The Quakers are pacifists, so they wouldn’t do anything in the octagon. But running up against a pirate, the Jayhawk is no match. Clemson should lose automatically. While there are plenty of tigers in college sports, Clemson’s mascot origin is literally copied from Auburn. AU of course has its own mistaken case of mascot identity because they chant “War Eagle” and an eagle swoops down from the roof of its stadium to the field before football games.

Duke gets past the Cinderella horned frogs in this bracket. The Blue Devils are actually nicknamed after a group of French soldiers.

While it might be a surprise to see TCU advance this far, consider that horned frogs do this:

At least eight species (P. asio, P. cornutum, P. coronatum, P. ditmarsi, P. hernandesi, P. orbiculare, P. solare, and P. taurus) are also able to squirt an aimed stream of blood from the corners of the eyes for a distance of up to 5 feet (1.5 m). They do this by restricting the blood flow leaving the head, thereby increasing blood pressure and rupturing tiny vessels around the eyelids. This not only confuses predators, but also the blood tastes foul to canine and feline predators.

But pirates are awesome and can take down just about anything in this bracket, especially French infantrymen, no matter the color.

Final Four

And our champion? Marshall. Because I literally cannot think of anything more terrifying than a herd of buffalo attacking you.