Welcome back to the most useless exercise in the history of sports journalism. I am going round-by-round, predicting the outcome of every game based on which mascot would win in a fight. If you didn’t read the first article, that means you probably have your priorities in the right order, and I admire that about you.

The first round is over, and we saw quite a few upsets over the past couple of days. The Wofford Terriers defeated the Seton Hall Pirates in what was likely a sneak attack on the part of the terrier. We also saw the Michigan Wolverines take down the Montana Grizzlies in a shocking development. But the most shocking upset of all was the Iowa State Cyclones somehow losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Somehow, a small plant was able not only to survive the cyclone, but also to bring it to submission using some kind of spiritual energy that I will not even attempt to comprehend.

Now that the runaway favorite Cyclones have lost, this tournament is wide open. Let’s take a look at the Round of 32.

EAST

Duke Blue Devils over UCF Golden Knights

Knights are products of a society fundamentally based on Christian faith, and there is nothing that a devout Medieval Christian fears more than Satan himself. The golden knight will shudder when he sees the devil in front of him and immediately give in to his terror.

Liberty Flames over Virginia Tech Hokies

Again, Hokies do not exist in physical space (or conceptuality, for that matter).

LSU Tigers over Maryland Terrapins

Here we see nature’s version of an unstoppable force against an immovable object. A terrapin is a type of turtle, an animal who has a strong, protective shell for situations like these. However, an animal that fights by hiding simply lacks the needed desire to win. Turtles fight like cowards.

Michigan State Spartans over Minnesota Golden Gophers

The battle-tested Spartan will have a pretty easy task ahead, as gophers aren’t known to be particularly competent in combat. I’d imagine a golden gopher would exist as a less-cool version of Chrysomallos, the golden-fleeced ram of Greek legend, in the eyes of the Spartan.

 WEST

Baylor Bears over Gonzaga Bulldogs

I have a feeling we might see a lot of these big-scary-animal-versus-small-cute-animal matchups in the future. While I hate to see a bear eat a bulldog as much as the next guy, that’s probably what would happen here.

Murray State Racers over Florida State Seminoles

The Murray State Racer is a mounted jockey, so he has the advantage of his horse in this fight. I don’t know what kind of weaponry the Seminole would have on him, but I don’t expect it would be enough to overcome the tactical disadvantage of fighting a mounted opponent.

Texas Tech Red Raiders over Buffalo Bulls

A red raider is not too far off from a cowboy, so this matchup has definitely happened thousands of times in the Wild West. Assuming the red raider has a lasso, this fight will come to an end rather quickly, a fairly routine operation for the raider.

Florida Gators over Michigan Wolverines

I don’t care how fiesty wolverines are for their size. Alligators are the scariest animals on earth. Period. They are huge lizards who hide underwater until a carefree animal (such as a wolverine) comes along, and then they unleash their nightmarish jaws to kill their prey before the poor thing can realize what is happening. They can also swim at 20 miles per hour in case anything gets away.

SOUTH

Virginia Cavaliers over Oklahoma Sooners

I’m imagining the Sooner sitting on a pioneer wagon, trying to ride away while the Cavalier easily keeps pace and fires a pistol at the driver. I guess the fight would look more like a caravan robbery than anything else.

UC Irvine Anteaters over Oregon Ducks

I don’t think either of these animals ever fight anything, so there is no precedent for what would happen here. They don’t have sharp teeth or claws or anything that would make them good at fighting either. This begs the question,  why would you make your school mascot something like a duck or an anteater? I’m giving the win to the anteater because it’s carnivorous at the very least. We know it has the mental capacity to kill a living thing.

Purdue Boilermakers over Villanova Wildcats

Easy win for the boilermaker. He has been through more than any wildcat could ever dream of. He came to this country with nothing but a few dollars in his pocket and a relentless work ethic. He works at least twelve hours per day in a hot factory, surrounded by dangerous machinery. It’s not easy work, but he needs to support his wife and seven kids. And he’ll be damned if a little wildcat gets in the way of his honest life.

Tennessee Volunteers over Iowa Hawkeyes

“Volunteer” could mean anything; we could be talking about a volunteer firefighter, a volunteer at a local soup kitchen, Katniss Everdeen, anything. But one thing remains clear: a Hawkeye is a small, round organ inside an animal. A volunteer is made out of a whole lot of organs, and thus has the advantage here.

MIDWEST

Washington Huskies over North Carolina Tar Heels

I’m sticking by my assertion that, if it really wanted to, a husky could beat a person in a fight. A tar heel is just a random person from North Carolina, so I really believe in the husky’s ability to fight more than I do a tar heel’s willingness to hit a dog.

Auburn Tigers over Kansas Jayhawks

This tournament may as well be a showcase for how good tigers are at fighting. In this case, however, the tiger would not even need to fight anything, as a “jayhawk” is not a real animal or being of any kind. The tiger gets to rest in preparation for its next meal一I mean一fight.

Ohio State Buckeyes over Houston Cougars

If I didn’t know any better, I would pick the Cougar here. “A buckeye is a plant,” I would say, “How could it do anything to fight a cougar?” But I have now seen a buckeye bring a full cyclone to its proverbial knees. I have no choice but to conclude that buckeyes possess some mystical, incomprehensible power, familiar only to the ancients and Ohio State’s founders.

I’d imagine the cougar’s eyes would turn solid black upon seeing the buckeye, and the animal would combust or implode or dissolve into the air.

Kentucky Wildcats over Wofford Terriers

This is the classic, clichéd matchup between a cat and a dog. Anyone who owns both animals knows that cats command far more respect in the eyes of dogs than vice versa. So I would expect to see the wildcat give the terrier a scratch or two, just enough to let it know who’s boss.

As the tournament progresses, the true favorites have started to emerge (and by this I mean tigers). We also have a few Cinderellas, like the UC Irvine Anteaters and the Kansas Jayhawks. The true X-factor in this bracket, however, are the Ohio State Buckeyes. It has yet to be seen whether or not their win over the Iowa State Cyclones was a fluke.

Yes, I’m aware that this has nothing to do with the actual basketball games taking place. But I think this blending of reality with nonsense perfectly represents what March Madness is all about. Sometimes the chaos of the universe overrules rational thought, and the result of a game has nothing to do with how good either team truly is at basketball (see Virginia vs UMBC last year). March Madness, by being a tournament of single basketball games, is an exercise in surrendering the sport to absurdity. I truly think that predictions based on something like a team’s mascot therefore have an element of rationality. The idea is grounded as much in madness as the tournament itself.

Or this whole thing is a waste of time. I am fully at peace with either interpretation.