Mastering mascotology

Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Scott Silverstein

No, no, no. Don't even try to front. You are not the master of mascotology. Leave it to the experts. Like us. Did you correctly pick last year's national champion? We don't think so. But using our time-tested mascotological methods, you too can lose your pool and gain many admirers in the process.

How does mascotology work? We enumerated the numbers, scried over the schedules, ripped through the RPI and ate some nachos. Then we came up with this: "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (minus the anti-Semite). Two mascots enter, one mascot leaves.

After extensive research, we broke down the nicknames into categories, categorically using the origin of the mascots rather than a newfangled interpretation/logo. For example, Zips are but rubber shoes, not kangaroos (we can rhyme, too).

We won't go through this quite game-by-game, so check out this key (from weak to powerful): slogans, inanimate objects, peace-loving humans, domesticated animals, unarmed humans, vicious animals, humans with sticks and stones, humans with guns, mythical beasts, forces of nature and, finally, heavenly and demonic beings.

East Region

Color us surprised, but three of the tournament's inanimate objects call this bracket home. The selection committee shamefully set up a game between two of them, trying to force your friendly mascotologists to advance either a tree or color. But we called their bluff, giving the Musketeers a bye into the Sweet 16. And unlike Eddie Jordan, don't harvest your nuts; the Buckeyes don't get past the play-in winner. The East comes down to a founding father against D'Artagnan. Go with Alexandre Dumas.

West Region

In the "Wizard of Oz" bracket, five of the field's 12 cats prowl the West Region. Instead of complaining about Virginia Tech, we should be whining about how we get two Wildcats-Tigers matchups (one in the East, one in the West). Lazy. Since neither features Goldie Hawn, take the Tigers. Lions (Nittany), Tigers (the other ones) and bears (Golden Grizzlies, oh my!) win their first two games here, but only the Blue Devils are wicked enough to win the West.

Southwest Region

Oh, the humanity. Sure, we have the only bird-on-bird action among the eight avians in the field, and we learn that slogans never, ever win (poor Hoyas) and that rubber shoes have no chance, Zips. But the Southwest belongs to people. More specifically to aggressive people. When two teams come out Fighting, it's hard not to pick them to face off for the regional title. And on St. Patrick's Day, you can't go against the Irish, though we're going to wear orange in protest.

Southeast Region

The Southeast is for the dogs. The Bulldogs, that is. Three of the four (and three of the six dogs overall) are in this region, but none will win a game. You might think "Cougar Town" gets a boost to "heavenly being" status with the way the nation has deified Jimmer Fredette, but they're just cats and won't last long in this tournament. The only significant matchup comes in the Sweet 16, when Leonidas tries to weather a Red Storm, albeit to no avail.

Final Four

It gets easy from here. Without Porthos, Athos and Aramis, D'Artagnan gets Coach KO'd, and it's over lightning-quick for the Fighting Irish. But nothing, not even a Red Storm, can stop evil from claiming a second straight title.

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