Yesterday, we laid out the entire first round of the 2012 NCAA Mascot Death Match Tourney. In Part 2, we'll break down the remainder of the bracket and crown an ultimate champion.
SOUTH – Round of 32
8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. 16 Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
It would seem that the Delta Devil may be an unstoppable force in this tournament, what with its propensity for capturing souls and sending people into eternal damnation and all. But I remember what happened the last time a supernatural power met up with a cyclone. I’m referring to the Wicked Witch of the East, and she ended up wearing a house as a hat. In the matchup, the Devil gets Cycl-owned!
12 VCU Rams vs. 13 New Mexico State Aggies
I respect the ability of the ram win at least one matchup, but it now faces the rootin’-tootinest outlaw in the Southwest! Quick with a pistol, and quicker with a tip of the hat, the Aggie shoots down the ram at full charge.
3 Baylor Bears vs. 11 Colorado Buffaloes
Growing up in Colorado, I really want to pick the Buffs. But I’m also a slave to the death match game, and in a matchup with an animal of equal size and strength, a buffalo can only really be effective in a stampede situation. In a one-one-one battle, I’m afraid that claws and teeth beat hoofs and horns every time.
2 Duke Blue Devils vs. 10 Xavier Musketeers
The Musketeer's reign comes to an end in this matchup, as, unlike the Cyclone, it cannot summon a house to fall on this Blue Devil. As the pair begin to fence, the Blue Devil plays picture perfect defense, blocking every swipe of the sword with his pitchfork, and enveloping the Musketeer with hot blue flames. Coach K and his evil ways are definitely pulling the strings for the Blue Devil. Must find out how.
SOUTH – Sweet 16
8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. 13 New Mexico State Aggies
There is precedent for a victor in this battle, and we find it in form of the American “Tall Tale.” Ladies and gentlemen, let me remind you of the story of Pecos Bill, the cowboy who was the “toughest critter West of the Alamo.” Legend has it that Bill once roped and rode a cyclone, and turning it into nothing more than a gentle breeze. Say no more! I’m sold. Aggies move on.
2 Duke Blue Devils vs. 3 Baylor Bears
The bear has been rolling through the competition, but it ran into an opponent that it can’t help but lose to: itself! The Devil shrinks down, lands on the bear’s shoulder and begins whispering in its ear, tempting it with dreams of a bear utopia, featuring a flowing waterfall of unlimited honey. Unable to focus on the task at hand, the bear simply stands there, lost in a sticky-sweet reverie, at which point the Devil plunges its pitchfork deep into the bear’s heart. Graphic, I know! Hey, at least the bear died happy.
SOUTH – Elite 8
2 Duke Blue Devils vs. 13 New Mexico State Aggies
Cocksure and full of confidence, the Blue Devil decides to go old school: as in Old Testament! It transforms into a serpent, thinking that it will be able to tempt the cowboy as it did Eve in the Garden of Eden. When the cowboy resists, the serpent bites him, hoping he will succumb to the poisonous venom. But like any good cowboy, a snake bite is par for the course. The Aggie simply sucks out the poison, spits it out with his enormous wad of chaw, shoots the snake’s head off, and fries it up over an open campfire. Who wants chicken?
WEST – Round of 32
1 Michigan State Spartans vs. 8 Memphis Tigers
We saw this matchup last round, with Missouri and Norfolk State. It was pretty much a coin flip, but I gave the advantage to the Spartan. So, since we’re talking about hoops here, it’s time for the tried and true “makeup call!” Works like a charm, as the Tiger moves on in this matchup.
12 Long Beach State 49ers vs. 13 Davidson Wildcats
As we learned in the last round, it takes more than a wolf to stop an eager, gold nugget-seeking 49er. It stands to reason that a smaller, less hostile wildcat offers no such threat either.
11 Colorado State Rams vs. 14 BYU Cougars
We settled this debate in another region. Claws and teeth beat hoofs and horns. I do think the ram would put up a great fight though, if it happens to catch the cougar with a head-butt in the right spot. But the cougar’s elusiveness and ability to pounce make it the victor. Whatever cougar wants, cougar gets.
7 Florida Gators vs. 2 Missouri Tigers
I had trouble thinking about this matchup because I feel like it could go either way depending on the location of the battle. In the water, the edge has to go to the Gator, right? But on land, it’s much harder to tame the Tiger. So to settle the debate, I jumped on the old YouTube machine and went to work. There is footage of a Tiger killing the Gator’s much larger and more dangerous relative, the crocodile, so it definitively ended the debate in my mind. Tiger rolls on.
WEST – Sweet 16
8 Memphis Tigers vs. 12 Long Beach State 49ers
The old prospector deserves props for defeating the wolf and the wildcat in consecutive rounds. But alas, his luck runs out when matched up with the graceful jungle cat. Too much power. Too many stripes. A canteen, a pickaxe, and a pebble sift are no proper aresnal.
2 Missouri Tigers vs. 14 BYU Cougars
While logic dictates that the size of the tiger would no doubt render it victorious against it fellow big cat counterpart, the real reason I’m advancing the tiger is to set up the epic battle next round. You know you want some Tiger on Tiger action!
WEST – Elite 8
2 Missouri Tigers vs. 8 Memphis Tigers
Same animal. Same characteristics. So how do we separate these two combatants in the “Tiger Tale of the Tape?” I’ll use three categories, which are usually the categories used by the receptionist in your office to clean out the office pool each year: most intimidating-looking logo, best color scheme, and what city I like the best.
For the logo, the edge goes to Missouri as the teeth are bared, and a hair-quivering pre-growl snarl is on its face. The classic blue and white color scheme of Memphis gives it the edge in that category, and is much more palatable than the black and gold of Missouri. Plus, Memphis’s throwback unis from this year are just sick.
So it comes down to which city I like more. While Columbia, Missouri is a fine college town, this one goes to Memphis in a landslide… if only for Beale Street and the delicious barbecue alone.
EAST – Round of 32
1 Syracuse Orange vs. 8 Kansas State Wildcats
Since I used “Orange” as a highly combustible chemical in the opening round, I have to change it up a bit. For the purposes of this matchup, it’s a fruit. That said, I can neither confirm nor deny if a wildcat (or any cat for that matter) would actually eat an orange if given the chance. Wait, what’s this? OHMIGODILOVEYOUTUBE!
5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. 13 Montana Grizzlies
Let’s put it this way, unless the Commodore has the full backing of the British Navy behind it, Grizzly will not be kind. The question is not if the giant bear will kill the Commodore, but how. A bite to the throat? A swift swing of the paw to the head? A swipe across the stomach, ripping it open and spilling yards of intestines? Wow. Speaking of grisly.
11 Texas Longhorns vs. 3 Florida State Seminoles
There has never been any kind of steer that a Seminole would not take down at first dawn. I mean, have you seen the size of a Longhorn? Just one of those things would feed the entire tribe for a week.
10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Similarly, it doesn’t matter what form the buckeye comes in – tree, nut, or chocolate candy – the Mountaineer will eat it all. And probably more than once. You asked for it, you got it! “Let’s go Mountaineers, let’s go drink some beers!”
EAST – Sweet 16
8 Kansas State Wildcats vs. 13 Montana Grizzlies
Well done, Mr. Wildcat. For being such a ubiquitous nickname, yet having a losing winning percentage in this tournament, you’ve made it pretty far. But that run ends now. Grizzly marches on.
3 Florida State Seminoles vs. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers
Talk about your classic matchups! You have the rugged, often-dirty, always bearded musk of a mountain man vs. the colorful, sinewy resourcefulness of the Native American. Both are skilled horsemen. Both have off-the-charts survival instincts. Both can kill an elk with either a musket or a bow and arrow from 100 yards. There’s only one man who an decide this: Robert Redford. Namely, Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson. I’m not sure what the exact body count for Johnson is in that film (it was high), but it forever skewed my thinking as to who the fiercer warrior was. Mountaineer wins at the buzzer!
EAST – Elite 8
10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. 13 Montana Grizzlies
For this matchup, I’ll offer up this scenario: Grizzly bear vs. Man. Man may think he has dominion over this beast. He may think he can dress it up in funny hats, or think that it’s his pet, or wrestle with it. But as Timothy Treadwell taught us in the 2005 documentary film Grizzly Man, it’s not going to end well. An excerpt from the movie’s description on Wikipedia reads:
The film consists of Treadwell's own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears before he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and eaten by a bear in 2003…
Yeah, there's really no point in reading on.
MIDWEST – Round of 32
1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide
This matchup of two strange nicknames leaves me wondering how to move either one of them to the next round. Then it hit me. At some point along the way in the history of their schools, the Tar Heels adopted a ram as a mascot (geez, this tournament has more Rams than a St. Louis strip club), and Alabama adopted an elephant. That’s more like it. Ram attempts to deliver a lethal headbutt, but it doesn't even phase the thick-skinned elephant, who simply tramples the poor ram, leaving it a bloody mess.
12 California Golden Bears vs. 4 Michigan Wolverines
Bear vs. Wolverine. Another tough matchup from two fierce, blood-thirsty animals. If only there was photographic evidence on who would win this fight. Wait for it… seriously, how amazing is YouTube! Despite being like 10 times smaller, Wolverine chases bear up a tree, goes up after him, and once the two are on the ground continues to bite his face until the bear just gives up. Hail to the Victors, valiant!
6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. 14 Belmont Bruins
I suspect that an Aztec warrior saw very few Bruins during their reign in the Yucatan in Mexico. That said, Aztecs were fearless, and I don’t think that even a Bruin would stand much of a chance. Fightin’ to the death is the Aztecs' game, baby!. Well, that and the cannibalism. I just can’t get over that.
7 St. Mary’s Gaels vs. 15 Detroit Titans
Not all Gaels are as incredible warriors as the aforementioned William Wallace. And I’ve already played my Braveheart card for this tournament, so I have to go with the Titans in this matchup. It’s not a steadfast rule, but mythology usually wins out over humanity every time.
MIDWEST – Sweet 16
4 Michigan Wolverines vs. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide
As ferocious as the Wolverine is, it sadly meets its match against the Elephant. Too much bulk, too much trunk, and sadly, for the wolverine, too much tusk.
6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. 15 Detroit Titans
This may be the most difficult matchup on the board so far. How does one rank the power and mythology of ancient civilizations? The Aztecs had more than 100 gods, so their overall power was a little dispersed lets say. Additionally, their supreme god was Huitzilopochtli, whose name means “Left Handed Hummingbird.” Not exactly a bastion of fear. On the contrary, the 12 original Titan gods could control the earth, seas and skies, and eventually birthed some of the most famous mythological figures in history: Zeus, Poseidon and Atlas. That’s a tough lineage to defeat. Plus, Zeus has the ever-powerful thunderbolt, which not even the Aztec warrior can overcome. Titans advance.
MIDWEST – Elite 8
9 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 15 Detroit Titans
There’s just no way I can continue to justify Alabama moving on. I’ve stretched the Crimson Tide and elephant analogies as far as they can go. Plus, we’re talking about facing the Titans! They’re mythological gods, for heaven’s sake. They could turn the Crimson Tide into a crimson puddle real quick. A Titanic victory for the team from Detroit.
Titans and Tigers and Bears, oh my! We’ve finally arrived to New Orleans, site of the Final Four. And as you can see, seeding means jack when death is on the line. There have been some interesting matchup so far, a few bloodbaths, and dozens of corny jokes and pop culture references. But we ultimately have to have a winner of the Mascot Death Match. The remaining mascots are:
8 Memphis Tigers vs. 13 New Mexico State Aggies
Honestly, it’s hard for me to see how the Aggie got this far. He’s defeated a Hoosier and a Ram (no great accomplishment there), used his brashness and guile to ride the Cyclone, and overcame the Blue Devil based solely on the devil’s own hubris. Now he has to face off with a legitimately deadly opponent. Fierce, strong, cunning and blood thirsty, the Tiger stares down the cowboy and realizes it doesn’t even need to attack. It remembers its brother, “Tony the Tiger” and knows that the tiger is actually better at being a cowboy, than a cowboy. What can I say? The proof is in the processed, way-too-sugary breakfast cereal.
13 Montana Grizzlies vs. 15 Detroit Titans
I don’t see any scenario where the Titan falls. It’s been a good run for the Grizzly Bear. But despite its strength and ferocity, the Titans it seems, can only be killed by other Titans.
8 Memphis Tigers vs. 15 Detroit Titans
See above. Unless the Tiger somehow morphs into a mythical being, it’s got no shot. And sadly, for the tiger, those mythical beings only really exist in the minds of uber-nerdy fantasy artists.
So there you have it. Armed with the power to control heaven and earth, and of course, this rather formidable ally, the Detroit Titans are your 2012 NCAA Mascot Death Match winners. We’ll now have to wait and see if Ray McCallum, Jr. and his teammates can help the actual Titans team have similar success.
Till next year.