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Fill out your 2016 NCAA Tournament bracket with the MASCOT DEATHBRACKET

Each year, we pick one March Madness bracket by determining which of the team's mascots -- nicknames, not people wearing furry suits -- would win a one-on-one fight to the death.


First round

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Austin Peay Governors

The governor can just push for legislation to have jayhawks culled in his or her state.

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Connecticut Huskies

Ugh, every year we forget we have to kill doggies in this post, and every year here we are killing doggies.

Maryland Terrapins vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Oh wow, this is as close to tortoise vs. hare as we'll ever get in the Deathbracket. On one hand, jackrabbits are pretty feisty:

(That video is NSFW if your work doesn't allow extremely pump-up music.)

On the other hand, diamondback terrapins have shells, and the bun definitely isn't strong enough to penetrate that defense. Ultimately, this seems like a draw. Terp wins with a lifespan of over 30 years.

California Golden Bears vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

This is so extreme. The warriors who conquered and united Hawaii had firearms at their disposal, but they'd also never encountered a bear in their island home (the "golden bear" refers to an extinct subspecies of the grizzly). Gonna give the huge, fuzzy, carnivorous beast the edge over the dude with early-19th-century weaponry and zero bear experience.

Arizona Wildcats vs. Wichita State Shockers

A shocker is a person who picks wheat. The "wildcat" is just a generic term for a bobcat. Weaponry matters here, and when in doubt, we turn to the actual costumed mascot, who in the case of Wichita State:

a. is made of wheat

b. does not carry any sort of instrument, instead using its hands to make obscene "shocker" gestures:


(Scott Sewell, USA TODAY Sports)

If that's its best defense against a furious cat, it's going to die. Shoulda brought a sickle, dumbass. Better to pick wheat and fight wildcats with.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Buffalo Bulls

Ugh, that bull's gonna try to charge the hurricane, isn't he. Never charge a hurricane.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Temple Owls

"Hawkeye" is always tough because the physical mascot is a hawk, but the name derives from a character in Last of the Mohicans. Either way, the owl's probably going down.

Villanova Wildcats vs. UNC Asheville Bulldogs

Ugh. Bye doggy.

Second round

Austin Peay Governors vs. Colorado Buffaloes

Gov could try to go the legislative route again, but not before that big angry bison gets to trampling.

Maryland Terrapins vs. California Golden Bears

Bear eats the turtle, shell and all.

Arizona Wildcats vs. Miami Hurricanes

Sorry cat. Especially because you come from a part of the country not prone to heavy rains, we doubt you'll have any hope of surviving torrential downpours and record-setting winds.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Villanova Wildcats

Hawkeye doesn't kill the cat with his gun. He does it with his devastating handsomeness.


Sweet Sixteen

Colorado Buffaloes vs. California Golden Bears

As part of a herd, some buffaloes would have a good chance of chasing off a bear, but this is one-on-one.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

[weeps gently as Daniel D-L's pretty face blows away]

Final Four

California Golden Bears vs. Miami Hurricanes

Ride out the bad weather with an offseason cave sesh. No problem.



First round

PLAY-IN BATTLE ROYALE: Oregon Ducks vs. Holy Cross Crusaders vs. Southern Jaguars

The crusader's sword and armor make him comically overmatched against the duck, but not quite battle-ready enough to take down a jaguar.

Saint Joseph's Hawks vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

[spends 10 minutes at work reading about binturong self defense]

Via Wikipedia: "Normally quite shy, they can be aggressive when harassed. They are reported to initially urinate or defecate on a threat and then, if teeth-baring and snarling does not additionally deter the threat, will use their powerful jaws and teeth in self-defense."


(Taking the thick fur coat, sturdy build and climbin' claws over the hawks talons, too.)

Baylor Bears vs. Yale Bulldogs


Duke Blue Devils vs. UNC Wilmington Seahawks

Blue Devils were elite French infantrymen in World War I. "Seahawks" are generally accepted to be ospreys. It is already canon that those soldiers kill those birds.

Texas Longhorns vs. Northern Iowa Panthers

This is is a black panther, so either a leopard or a jaguar, and you know what? We don't think either one is surviving a well-timed swipe from one of these horns:


Texas A&M Aggies vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix

The "aggie" here is just a farmer person. The phoenix is a mythical flaming bird that, even if it *does* get defeated, will be reborn from its ashes. Soooooooo

(Important note: A fighting tomato would have won this battle, too.)

Oregon State Beavers vs. VCU Rams

Beavers are some of the cleverest, most industrious creatures on Earth. They're also fiercer than you might expect, fighting with both tooth and tail-slap. We're trying hard to give it a shot against a ram, but ... nah.

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners

Sooners were settlers who, either illegally or by dint of their offices and connections, were able to claim land in the territories earlier than other settlers. The roadrunner is a ground-dwelling cuckoo that moves quickly and kills snakes, lizards, scorpions and whatnot.

You know what? The roadrunner's pulling off an upset. It's simply going to cease its pest control for a little while -- let those venomous reptiles and scorpions do their thing -- and watch as that cheating-ass settler gets itself bit or stung to death.

Second round

Southern Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Binturongs' scent glads smell like popcorn. Do they taste like popcorn? Because this guy's getting eaten.

Baylor Bears vs. Duke Blue Devils

It's like The Revenant, but 100 years later and French, and ... eh, we're taking the bear over pretty much any singular dude with a gun.

Texas Longhorns vs. Green Bay Phoenix

Go ahead and stab the mythical bird with your horns, Bevo. It's made of fire and immortal.

VCU Rams vs. Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners

Damn, we had high hopes for that bird.

Sweet Sixteen

Southern Jaguars vs. Baylor Bears

Baylor's bear is a black bear that happens to be brown, not a brown bear, which means it's not thaaaaaaat much bigger than a jaguar. Here's a video of a jaguar cub challenging a black bear, which doesn't really help us:

(NSFW if your work doesn't allow extremely non-pump-up music.)

Because the jaguar is nimbler and more of a predator, and because the bear's size advantage is relatively slight, we're gonna go with the jaguar. It doesn't really matter, though, because ...

Green Bay Phoenix vs. VCU Rams

... the fiery immortal bird wins ...

Elite Eight

Southern Jaguars vs. Green Bay Phoenix

And wins again. CAW!



First round

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

A Tar Heel is somebody from North Carolina, but specifically, we're led to believe it's one whose feet are covered in sticky tar, severely limiting their mobility. This really hurts against the eagle, which can repeatedly divebomb its motionless target until the end.

USC Trojans vs. Providence Friars

The Trojans had swords and arrows and spears and didn't seem to care about harming religious figures, especially not ones from a religion founded 3,000 years after their civilization died out. Forgive me, Friar, but this Trojan is probably going to kill you.

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Chattanooga Mocs

A bit of confusion here with regards to Chattanooga, whose teams used to be the "Moccasins" but changed to the "mocs" in an attempt to move away from Native American symbolism. It's short for "mockingbird," and the mascot is Scrappy, a mockingbird.

Atticus Finch tells Scout it's a sin to kill one of those guys, because they don't harm anybody and all they do is sing, but this is a deathfight, and the Hoosier has to do what it has to do.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Stony Brook Seawolves

What's a seawolf? Stony Brook itself says its "a mythical creature," but  also plays into the fact that nobody knows what it is. They distribute shirts that say "What's a seawolf" on the front and "I'm a seawolf!" on the back. We guess it's supposed to be a wolf ... from the sea.

That makes this a particularly hardy dog against a particularly hardy cat. Not even close.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Here is Stephen F. Austin's mascot:

(Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports)

Here is West Virginia's mascot:

(Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports)

So, this matchup is "bearded man with axe" vs. "bearded man with gun." It's beautiful, perhaps the most perfect matchup in NCAA Tournament history. Sadly, I've gotta go with the guy with a gun.

BATTLE ROYALE: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan Wolverines vs. Tulsa Hurricanes

The wolverine and the Irish guy can outlast the hurricane. Honestly, we think the Irish guy can hold his own against a wolverine, too.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Badgers have the potential to be tenacious and annoying in a fight, but they're not gonna knock out a panther.

Xavier Musketeers vs. Weber State Wildcats

The dude with the gun is blowing the wildcat away.

Second round

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles vs. USC Trojans

We liked the eagle against a hapless Tar Heel, but against the highly weaponized/shielded Trojans, the human has the edge.

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Stony Brook Seawolves

"A mythical wolf powered by the sea" vs. "a guy from Indiana." Going with the wolf, tbh.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The backwoods guy with the gun is gonna shoot the bare-knuckle brawler in the face.

Xavier Muskeeters vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

A musket isn't a great weapon, certainly not one good enough to take down a ferocious panther.


USC Trojans vs. Stony Brook Seawolves

We got the Seawolves as far as we could, but until we get some clarity about them as animals, we're gonna have to stop them right here. Maybe a seawolf is murderous enough to take down a historical warrior, we just don't know. For now we're going to side with the ancient man good at killing.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

The Backyard Brawl!

We just picked a panther over a musketeer, but the Mountaineer is a bit more rugged and he's got a better gun. The Musketeer was mainly concerned with, like, I dunno, being chivalrous or, like, fighting for the honor of various maidens, or something. The Mountaineer is more survival oriented. He's gonna be a lot better at murdering animals trying to murder him.

We bet the Mountaineer can fend off a panther attack.

Elite Eight

USC Trojans vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

Y'all ever play Civilization? Ever play it on an easy difficulty mode? You destroy everybody on your continent and advance your science to the point that you're in the Middle Ages, then the Renaissance, then modern times. And then you go to another continent on the map and find some sorry-ass civilization trying to destroy your riflemen with catapults.

That's what we got here. This poor ancient Greek man is walking into the picture like "I HAVE PRACTICED MY SWORDSMANSHIP, AND AM READY TO SLAY MANY CORINTHIANS SO THAT MY CITY-STATE'S PRINCE MAY CONTINUE TO HAVE SEX WI-" and then boom, headshot from a person who has a literal gun.



First round

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Hampton Pirates

Wow, brutal. Two people good at running around with weapons.

We're siding with the pirates here. Both parties are good at swordfights, but the pirates sail around the ocean killing people and probably also have some neat guns the Cavaliers don't have.

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Butler Bulldogs

Oh man, this dude with a gun is gonna murder the hell out of this poor bulldog. Jesus. This is brutal.

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Little Rock Trojans

A boilermaker is a person constructing a boiler with a big ol' hammer. He's got modern technology, but he isn't quite suited for warfare. The Trojan has superior weapons and armor.

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Iona Gaels

A Gael is just a person from a Gaelic origin, so basically someone from Ireland. With the Notre Dame-Tulsa matchup, we already confirmed we think the average Irish person can survive a severe weather pattern. Admittedly, Ireland doesn't get severe storms much -- just kinda temperate weather all year long and a lot of rain -- but we're just talking about outlasting weather for a few days here.

Utah Utes vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

Man, another human murdering another bulldog. This is absolutely brutal. We can't take much more of this. Just picturing a single person committing an act of violence against a silly floppy puppy makes us want to cry. And now, we've had to think about it several times over. Goodness gracious. Why do we even do this.

Seton Hall Pirates vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs


Dayton Flyers vs. Syracuse Orange

This is a person flying a plane facing off against a fruit. So many ways to destroy this fruit. Take the orange, bring it into the cockpit, get up to cruising altitude, throw it out. Fly through a patch of turbulence without strapping the orange's seat belt. Do a barrel roll with the orange inside the cabin. Offer the orange as an in-flight refreshment to one of your passengers. Or hell, just eat the orange while flying the plane. You don't even need to fly the plane. Just eat the orange. Forget about the plane, Dayton Flyer. Just take care of business with the orange.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

It's not quite clear what a "Blue Raider" is. The school's mascot is a horse named Lightning. However, we're just going to assume it's the Texas Tech Red Raider, but blue. And that means he has guns and the Spartan does not.

Second Round

Hampton Pirates vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders


We genuinely don't know how we're supposed to pick here.

Little Rock Trojans vs. Iona Gaels

Much like we'd already discussed Irishman vs. Hurricane, we've also already predicted Irishman vs. Person With Weapons.

Utah Utes vs. Seton Hall Pirates

The Pirates are gonna swashbuckle through most human opponents.

Dayton Flyers vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Does the Flyers' plane have guns on it? If not, we're sticking to this gun-having Raider guy.

Sweet 16

Okay, we can't do this.

This bracket has the Seton Hall Pirates, the Hampton Pirates, the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

How are we supposed to pick which pirate is better at pirating? Which color is better for raiding, red or blue?

The only reasonable decision we can make is to advance an amalgamation of these teams. The Final Four participant from the Midwest Region is the Middle Sempton Hech Texasseee Blue/Red Raider-Pirates

The mashup between these two mascots has left this mascot with three arms, two mustaches but somehow, just one eye. He's got a gun and sword, and the extra weapon should help. But the decreased depth perception could hurt the Blue/Red Raider Pirates in the Final Four.


Final Four

Cal Golden Bears vs. Green Bay Phoenix

So uhhh yeah the firebird is still immortal. Kinda hoping Green Bay doesn't make it next year, because this is defeating the exercise.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Middle Sempton Hech Texassee Blue/Red Raider-Pirates

Yeah, the Mountaineer has a gun, but so does the Raider-Pirate. And the Pirate also has a sword. And it seems like if he really wanted to, he could double-wield pistols while charging at the Mountaineer with a sword raised in his third arm. Gotta side with the Raider-Pirates.

NCAA Final: Green Bay Phoenix VS. Middle Sempton Hech Texassee Blue/Red Raider-Pirates

Apologies to our beloved, bi-coastal, two-toned marauding chimera, but ... stab and shoot and otherwise pirate that bird all you want. It's made of fire and it's coming back to life.