I used to take pride in filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket. I had a complex system using a formula of wins in a row, scoring and rebounding margins, average age of the team, NBA prospects, and head coach experience to predict my winners. That system was slightly better than the year I got drunk and decided MSU could beat #1 seed Duke in the Sweet 16 and beat 2 seed Kentucky to go to the Final Four*. Then when I sobered up the next day I erased it changing it to MSU losing in the 2nd round to Syracuse.
As you will remember in 2005 Vermont beat Syracuse in the first round and MSU went to the Final Four. I couldn't drink enough to make the pain of my sober ways go away. I curse Gerry McNamara to this day.
Combine my poor prognostications with the fact that I've only watched Big Ten basketball this year and I'm struggling to fill out my bracket. I came up with a solution. This year I filled out my bracket by which mascot would win in a fight. For clarification I mean school nickname not stuffed suit- Spartans not Sparty. For some mascots I had to resort to the internet to find out what it was because really what the hell is a Tar Heel**?
#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #16 play in winner
I'll pick the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State over Western Kentucky named the Hilltoppers because they built a school on a hill. MVSU is so excited about it's basketball team making the Big Dance that it hasn't updated it's website in a month. Beating Southern to make it 13 straight wins is way more important than getting into the NCAA tournament.
Winner: Normally I would pick a devil of any type over a wildcat, but these are delta devils and can't use their Harry Potter wizardry on dry land. Wildcats win.
#8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. #9 UConn Huskies
One of my sister's favorite movies when we were kids was Twister. I vividly remember cows being picked up by twisters. Being a happy go lucky kid I thought they were just flying later to be placed back safely on the ground. That's actually the preferred method of beef tenderizing in the plain states. A husky isn't a cow, but considering my dog is scared of the wind, a bigger dog doesn't stand a chance of bigger wind.
Winner: Unless Helen Hunt is in the stands rooting for UConn, the Cyclones take this one in a breeze (sorry).
#5 Whichita State Shockers vs. #12 VCU Rams
Wichita State is named the shockers because in the early days of the school most of the students worked as wheatshockers or harvesters. They dropped wheat to become the shockers. When wheat is all you know, wheat is what you name yourself after.
Winner: The shockers prepare wheat. Rams eat wheat. Rams win.
#4 Indiana Hoosiers vs #13 New Mexico State Aggies
Nobody knows what a Hoosier is. The Indiana state government website has theories as to what a Hoosier is. At least I know where "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" came from. What's worse than being a Hoosier? Being an Aggie. Your nickname comes from being an agricultural school. At least the Hoosiers can make up a cool story about being a troop of soldiers that were really good at fighting.
Winner: Once upon a time MSU was the Aggies. Then the school realized how dumb that was a became the Spartans. Nobody knows what either is, but at least a Hoosier is unique no matter how dumb it is.
#6 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs #11 Colorado Buffaloes
UNLV are those cowboys who rebelled from Nevada-Reno.
Winner: This picture sums it up. Cowboys shoot up Buffaloes
#3 Baylor Bears vs #14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Winner: It doesn't get any easier than this. Bears eat all rabbits. End of story.
#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #10 Xavier Musketeers
Finally a battle between two born fighters. One armed with a broken beer bottle the other with a musket (or epee if you prefer the movie).
Winner: In a battle more suited for TVs Deadliest Warrior, this comes down to fighting for pride. Although the game isn't on St. Patrick's Day the Irish, along with everyone else in the country, will surely be getting in the spirit early. Never bet against a drunk enraged ginger on St Paddy's day. ND wins in a blacked out rage of glory.
#2 Duke Blue Devils vs #15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Unlike their weak cousin the Delta Devil, the Blue Devil has no problem using it's sorcery on land though they usually use it only to flop and draw BS charge calls on their opposition. Mountain hawks eat small birds and mammals. Too bad they aren't playing the jackrabbits.
Winner: The blue devils flop away from every attack until the hawks give up. Just the kind of weak win one would expect from Duke. Nobody likes Duke.
South Second Round
#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs #8 Iowa State Cyclones
If the show Storm Chasers has taught me anything I know that driving across multiple states over two days to see a cyclone never works. Fans from Ames leaving for Louisville after the first round win to see the Cyclones take on Kentucky will be saddened seeing their twister go back into the sky while Wildcat hail rains down upon them.
Winner: The Wildcats outlast the storm.
#12 VCU Rams vs #4 Indiana Hoosiers
Seriously do a search for "what is a Hoosier?" Go do it. You will not find an answer. The Indiana Historical Society has no answer and it's widely accepted that Hoosier is the term for someone from Indiana. Although the picture looks like the rams are fighting with a circle of people watching, they are about to turn and kill everyone. Hoosier are just people. They aren't fighters or soldiers. No guns, just people who live in Indiana. They don't stand a chance against a herd of Rams.
Winner: Nobody knows what a Hoosier is. Not too many people care. Glad they are finally out of the Dance. Rams win.
#6 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs #3 Baylor Bears
UNLV is nicknamed just the Rebels. However, the basketball team is nicknamed the Runnin' Rebels. Rebels wouldn't stand a chance against bears, but it's a whole new ballgame since they are runnin rebels.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5W3sZsX7Jw']
Winner: Yes, it's a polar bear, and no, Sawyer (the Rebel) isn't running, but you get the idea. I just shot a bear! Runnin' Rebels win on the power of the apostrophe.
#2 Duke Blue Devils vs #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Apparently the Blue Devil was also a DC Comic book hero. His super powers included "Superhuman strength, durability, vision, and hearing . Can find demons on Earth and banish them to Hell. Highly trained martial artist and acrobat."
Winner: The Blue Devils don't need super powers to dominate the severely hung over Fighting Irish. The Irish get screwed on scheduling having to play a game the day after their 1 holiday of the year. Duke wins. Dickie V throws away Digger's highlighters.
#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs #12 VCU Rams
Finally the fact that Wildcats are wildcats matters. Rams are small enough animals to go down to a pack of wildcats.
Winner: Wildcats prey on sheep.
#2 Duke Blue Devils vs #6 UNLV Runnin' Rebels
After years of living in Vegas, the Runnin' Rebels are confused that they aren't going to see a Blue Man Group show.
Winner: The Blue Devils are able to find demons and banish them to Hell. Anybody who lives full time in Sin City must be a demon. In a replay from 1991 instead of 1990 Duke wins.
#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs #2 Duke Blue Devils
In an effort to find Tru TV last night in preparation for the Tournament, I stumbled on their special of the early 90s Duke team. If you are a person who doesn't hate Christian Laettner (doubt those people exist), watch it. He comes off as an even bigger D-bag than I thought possible. Wildcats and Blue Devils aside I have to go against Coach Calipari because of the common Calipari Choke.
#1 Michigan State Spartans vs #16 LIU Brooklyn BlackBirds
As MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis tweeted: “With Tournament time arriving, a reminder that it’s Michigan State Spartans. We are the Spartans. Sparty is our mascot.” Sparty is a loveable, muscle bound mascot who will kick your ass. Spartans are warriors of Sparta- who will kick your ass.
Winner: Spartans or Sparty. Either way a dumb bird isn't winning.
#8 Memphis Tigers vs #9 St. Louis Billikens
A Billiken is a good luck charm doll created by someone in St. Louis. A Tiger is a tiger.
Winner: No doll can bring enough luck to fend off a Tiger attack. Tigers win.
#5 New Mexico Lobos vs #12 Long Beach State 49ers
49ers were named after all the fools who joined the gold rush and headed out west. Lobos is Spanish for "eats people who search for gold."
Winner: I'm scared of wolves. I'm even more scared of Mexican wolves. Lobos win.
#4 Louisville Cardinals vs #13 Davidson Wildcats
Go back to the definition of Kentucky Wildcats. Wildcats eat birds and small mammals. Cardinals are birds.
#6 Murray State Racers vs #11 Colorado State Rams
In other years I would quickly pick Murray State simply because they only lost 1 game on the year. This year I'm picking them because in a simple race I'll take a Racer of a Dodge Ram.
Winner: It's not a Dodge Ram? I don't care. Racers still win.
#3 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #14 play in winner BYU/Iona
First I will take the BYU Mormons over the Iona Gaels (Irish-Gaelic) any day. I've been told BYU is the Cougars not the Mormons. I still take them over the Gaels. Now it's Golden Eagles vs Cougars.
Winner: [yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Yx1KXQMCM']
#7 Florida Gators vs #10 Virginia Cavaliers
Although a Cavalier is a swashbuckling swaggering gallant according to Shakespear, they are not classically trained in taking down Gators like this fine gentleman.
Winner: Florida has an easy road without having the face the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Gators win.
#2 Missouri Tigers vs #15 Norfolk State Spartans
There can only be one Spartans in this for me because I don't want to waste my wonderful 300 references on Norfolk State.
#1 MSU Spartans vs #8 Memphis Tigers
Roman. Spartan. Close enough when I'm trying to use movie references to prove why the Spartans will beat the Tigers. I'm sure Leonidas slayed his fair share of Tigresses in his day AmIRight.
Winner: It's a widely accepted fact that no Spartan ever lost to a Tiger in gladiator arena. Spartans win.
#5 New Mexico Lobos vs #13 Davidson Wildcats
Winner: Wolves beat wildcats. It just makes sense.
#6 Murray State Racers vs #14 BYU Cougars
How do you take out Cougars? In a fast sports car.
Winner: Racers. Although there are no losers when you go Cougar hunting.
#7 Florida Gators vs #2 Missouri Tigers
Winner: So what if it's a crocodile in the video. Tigers win.
#1 MSU Spartans vs #5 New Mexico Lobos
A dream matchup for me just so that I can use the 300 reference.
Winner: All of us because we get to watch this clip. Spartans wear wolves as hats.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSvBr4Qa-Fs']
#2 Missouri Tigers vs #6 Murray State Racers
Racers can also be an equine you ride. Quite frankly this is taking too long and I don't care which Murray State prefers. I'd much rather ride a Tiger into battle than a horse.
#1 MSU Spartans vs #2 Missouri Tigers
This is ChatSpartans so the obvious pick here is the Spartans. I piss off enough people when I tweet negatively about my expectations with this team so I will try to win back favor with everybody here. Also, Spartans don't lose to Tigers. Look back to Memphis.
#1 Syracuse Orange vs #16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs
The Orange or formerly known Orangemen were a Northern Ireland Protestant fraternal organization similar to the KKK. I understand the change to Orange. Bigots edge out dogs in a fight.
#8 Kansas State Wildcats vs #9 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Winner: See video for BYU over Marquette
#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs Harvard Crimson
A naval officer against a color. It's Crimson. Not blood red or at least Cardinal, but Crimson.
Winner: Come sail away, Commodores
#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs #13 Montana Grizzlies
Grizzlies are bears. Bears eat beets. Bears. Beats. Battlestar Galactica. Badgers Lose.
Winner: Grizzlies are just plain better than Badgers in every way except for being rodents. Grizzlies win. I hate Bo Ryan.
#6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs #11 Texas Longhorns
While a Bearcat sounds vicious, it mainly eats fruit. I would put a picture here of what a longhorn can do to a throat but I'm going to save everyone the pain of seeing a horn go in the esophagus and come out the mouth.
Winner: Look at the horns on Bevo. No wimpy fruit eating cat is getting past those. Longhorns win.
#3 Florida State Seminoles vs #14 St. Bonaventure Bonnies
A Bonnie it turns out is a wolf. The Bona Wolf to be more exact. I'm sure wolves are spiritual to the Seminole tribe in some aspect. Bonnies don't quite hold the same spiritual power over the tribe as a real wolf.
#7 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #10 West Virginia Mountaineers
Not the Zags but the Bulldogs. Too bad because I would be more willing to give the Zags the edge over the mountain men.
Winner: Even though people have to pick up after their dogs, bulldogs are probably on the menu at back hills restaurants. Mountaineers win.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs #15 Loyola Greyhounds
Yes, a Buckeye is a nut. Yes, it is poisonous- kind of. As long as you heat it up or boil it, you can eat it. Luckily dogs lack the opposable thumbs to work a stove top.
Winner: The Greyhounds get the early edge eating the raw nut, but the Buckeyes come back late when the poison sets in. Buckeyes win. And yes, I know that's a pathetic reason for winning but I can't really pick Loyola over OSU.
#1 Syracuse Orange(men) vs #8 Kansas State Wildcats
Those bigoted Orangemen didn't get enough pleasure out of beating the dogs last round they've now moved on to cats. Really I'm just sick of all the Wildcat nicknames.
Winner: The sashed and bowlered Orangemen march through the Wildcats
#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs # 13 Montana Grizzlies[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfboOt1bJcA']
As Brick points out, Bears can smell menstruation. Luckily for the Commodores no women are allowed on ships.
Winner: Commodores sail right past the Grizzlies unnoticed.
#11 Texas Longhorns vs #3 Florida State Seminoles
Seminoles aren't scared of Longhorns. In fact they makes sure to use every part of the animal once they kill it.
Winner: Noles cut up the Longhorns
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs #10 West Virginia Mountaineers
Very easy to pick this one. Mountaineers know how to survive in the wild. One of the keys to surviving in the wild is knowing what is edible and what isn't.
Winner: Mountaineers crush Buckeyes and leave them behind to poison something else.
#1 Syracuse Orange(men) vs #5 Vanderbilt Commodores
A high ranking naval officer is much classier than a bigot of any kind be it Protestant Irish or not.
Winner: Have I used "The Commodores sail past ____" yet? Who cares. They do that again.
#3 Florida State Seminoles vs #10 West Virginia Mountaineers
Winner: US History lesson. Trail of Tears. Keep walking, Seminoles. There's a reason the tribe is in Oklahoma now and not Florida. Mountainmen surely played a role in that. Mountaineers win.
#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs #10 West Virginia Mountaineers
In the easiest path to the final four, the Commodores who are trained to fight on land and water easily defeat the back woods men of West Virginia. Imagine what this gun can do to a mountain.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-uV1SbEuzFU']
Winner: The I'm Commo Sailing Away Dores
#1 North Carolina TarHeels vs #16 Lamar/Vermont
First I'll take the Catamounts aka another wildcat to eat the Cardinals of Lamar. Tarheels were named because of North Carolina troops' willingness to stick to their ranks in a fight as if they had tar on their heels.
Winner: Tarheels don't back down from a fight even when it's a Catamount. Heels win.
#8 Creighton BlueJays vs #9 Alabama Crimson Tide
Birds v dead seaweed or birds v red mud whichever you prefer. This Blankenship guy is a bigger story than the actually Alabama basketball team. Just like the Crimson Tide, Jackson Blankenship's time as a story is up.
Winner: BlueJays by default. The best way to win.
#5 Temple Owls vs #12 Play In Cal Golden Bears/South Florida Bulls
I hate to pick against former MSU assistant Stan Heath but I have to take the Golden Bears over the Bulls for the play in.
Winner: It's a well known fact that Jack Nicklaus is terrified of Owls. The Golden Bear runs in fear. Owls win.
#4 Michigan Wolverines vs #13 Ohio Bobcats
If a Wolverine can fight off a wolf pack and bear (youtube it yourself because I only read titles) it can surely fight off a timid Bobcat.
Winner: In a battle of animals I hope to never see in the wild unless I have a fat friend with me, the Wolverines are more ferocious.
#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs #11 NC State Wolfpack
Winner: The Aztecs built an empire. They ruled nearly an entire continent. They can handle a pack of wolves. Luckily this is the wolfpack and not the Lobos because we all know how the Aztecs handle Spaniards.
#3 Georgetown Hoyas vs #14 Belmont Bruins
I thought there were a lot of Wildcats and Tigers in the NCAA but there are a crazy amount of types of bears.
Winner: I'm tired of all the Bears in the tournament. Hoyas win even with the knowledge that Hoyas are rocks. "Saxa-Hoya= What Rocks!" That's what happens when you let nerds who study Latin pick your mascot.
#7 Saint Mary's Gaels vs #10 Purdue Boilermakers
A person of Irish-Gaelic descent and a man who makes Boilers. Or as I prefer, and Irishman vs a horrible drink of a shot of whiskey dropped into a beer.
Winner: Gaels down the Boilermakers
#2 Kansas Jayhawks vs #15 Detroit Titans
I assume a jayhawk is a bastardization of a bluejay and a hawk and I really don't care if I'm wrong. It's late and this thing is taking forever. I feel like Bill Simmons at this point.
Winner: In the biggest upset of the tournament the Titans beat the Jayhawks because Titans were better than most gods in mythology.
#1 UNC Tarheels vs #8 Creighton Bluejays
Tarheels are fighters. If they can shoot enemy soldiers, they can shoot birds.
Winner: Heels shoot down the Bluejays who wish they still had their best shooter Kyle Korver.
#4 Michigan Wolverines vs #5 Temple Owls
Winner: Wolverines can fight off any animal regardless of flying ability. Wolverines win.
#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs #3 Georgetown Hoyas
The Aztecs built an empire. Hoyas are rocks. What do you think the Aztecs used to build their entire empire?
Winner: What rocks! indeed. Such craftsmanship used by the Aztecs to design their temple of Technochtitlan. Aztecs win.
#7 Saint Mary's Gaels vs #15 Detroit Titans
The Titans overindulge in the spirits on St. Patricks Day as the Gaelic Irish aren't as affected by the celebration as the Fighting Irish.
Winner: Gaels blow down the Titans.
#1 UNC Tarheels vs #4 Michigan Wolverines
It's hard to find a Wolverine in the state of Michigan. I place the blame on man. I haven't been to North Carolina in years but I imagine it's tough to find one there too.
Winner: Wolverines are wiped out by man everywhere, Tarheels foul suit.
#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs #7 Saint Mary's Gaels
The Aztecs were wiped out by the Spanish and disease. The Irish, especially following St Paddy's weekend are covered in disease.
#1 UNC Tarheels vs #7 Saint Mary's Gaels
Tarheels are ready for a fight. These aren't the fighting Irish, they are just Gaelic Irish. And they are tired from partying and spreading disease.
Winner: Tarheels. I really hope Henson's wrist is healthy. Sorry for that bit of actual basketball talk.
#1 Michigan State Spartans vs #2 Duke Blue Devils
King Leonidas may have only cut Xerxes who may not have been blue but was a devil. The rest of the Spartans came back to finish the job.
Winner: Spartans. Draymond Green shows Coach K that it's not only his Dukies that can draw a charge.
#1 North Carolina Tarheels vs #5 Vanderbilt Commodores
Two groups built for fighting. Forced to come on land, the Commodores can't handle the sticky Tarheels.
Winner: Mainly because I can't pick an SEC team not named Kentucky to go to the Championship and because I actually think UNC will win- Tarheels win.
YOUR 2012 NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPION
All hail King Izzo and the 2012 NCAA Champion Michigan State Spartans. It's the last thing that Draymond Green has to accomplish in his storied college career.
Follow me on Twitter @ChatSportsEck to complain with me about the horrible officiating of Ted Valentine! Seriously, Teddy. How many times are you going to wait to see if a shot is missed before calling it a foul? If it's a foul with a missed shot, it's a foul with a made shot.
*I do not approve of drinking and bracketing, but I don't frown upon it either.
**My historical facts might be off because I made them up when I felt like it.
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