We all get excited about March Madness despite the fact that we know virtually nothing about any of the teams or players. We tend to watch whatever game is on, rooting for the lower seed or whichever team has cooler uniforms. We have no team allegiance to speak of, and no thought-out bracket to stand behind. I truly believe that this is the best way to consume sports: one’s only rooting interest is for something cool to happen.

That being said, I, like most sports fans, feel the need to give my analytical input for some reason. I could actually research each team’s strengths, weaknesses, and statistics to put together a somewhat reasonable prediction. That’s what a “good fan” would do. But that also requires a lot of work.

Instead, I am basing my picks on the most easily accessible aspect of any team: their mascot. And by mascot, I mean team nickname, not the literal person in a costume who dances on the sidelines. I will give the win to which mascot I believe would win in a fair, one-on-one fight. Yes, I’m aware that no one asked for this. Yes, I agree that this is a waste of both my time and yours. But it’s too late. Here we go.

EAST

Duke Blue Devils over whomever they end up playing against

This matchup hasn’t actually been decided yet, and I don’t have the patience to wait for it to be. So Duke wins by default. Congratulations.

UCF Golden Knights over VCU Rams

Yes, Rams are ferocious. But assuming this knight is mounted on a horse and fully armored, this will be no different from a medieval aristocrat hunting for sport.

Mississippi State Bulldogs over Liberty Flames

Here we have the classic matchup of a very tangible living thing (a bulldog) versus an intangible element of nature. Yes, flames are dangerous. But a flame isn’t even a full fire. A bulldog could probably extinguish a flame by drooling or sitting on it.

Saint Louis Billikens over Virginia Tech Hokies  

This matchup is ridiculous. Apparently, “Billikens” came about because one of Saint Louis’s coaches looked a little like a Billiken doll in the early twentieth century. That’s really dumb. But at least a Billiken doll is a physical thing. “Hokie” was just a word people in Virginia would yell when they were happy. I cannot even conceptualize a fight between a meaningless word and a doll, so I’m giving it to the doll.

Maryland by Default

LSU Tigers over Yale Bulldogs

Here we have a ferocious, massive feline predator versus a breed of dog that was intentionally created to look dumpy and goofy. Unsurprisingly, the Tiger wins this animal-on-animal matchup.

Louisville Cardinals over Minnesota Golden Gophers

I’m imagining the cardinal swooping down periodically and pecking at the eyes of the gopher, who helplessly flails at the red blur. Also, I don’t know how being golden will affect the gopher, but I can’t imagine any way in which it could help.

Bradley Braves over Michigan State Spartans

Here we have a clash of civilizations: the fierce warriors of pre-Columbian America against the strictly regimented soldiers of an ancient Greek superpower. I’d pay money to watch this. My guess is that the Braves’ mastery of guerilla warfare will be too much for the Spartans, who are unacquainted with much more than pitched combat.

WEST

Gonzaga by Default

Baylor Bears over Syracuse Orange

Never in a million years will I allow a color to win a game in this bracket. Colors cannot fight. They do not exist in a physical space. They are nothing.

Marquette Golden Eagles over Murray State Racers

An intriguing matchup. A dude on a horse versus a bird of prey. I tend to favor flying things over non-flying things, and a golden eagle is about as formidable as flying things come. I imagine the racer riding away furiously as the eagle keeps pace in the air and occasionally swoops down to cause havoc.

Vermont Catamounts over Florida State Seminoles

“Catamount” is a derivative of the phrase “cat of the mountain,” meaning mountain lion. Mountain lions belong on that long list of animals that you should immediately run away from, no questions asked. While the Seminole tribe was one of the strongest of its region, a mountain lion can (and will) kill a person.

Buffalo by Default

Northern Kentucky Norsemen over Texas Tech Red Raiders

A common theme of pillaging in this matchup. But I generally believe those who pillage by sailing the icy North Sea are stronger than those who pillage by riding around Texas. So I’m going with the Norsemen.

Florida Gators over Nevada Wolfpack

I think Nevada is cheating by claiming an entire pack of wolves rather than just one wolf. So this matchup is instead between one wolf and one gator because I make the rules. It is also scientific fact that alligators are the scariest beings on earth. So I have the ferocious horizontal dinosaur winning here.

Montana Grizzlies over Michigan Wolverines

Despite what Marvel wants you to think, a wolverine is just a nerd bear, also known as a “skunk bear” or a “glutton” (seriously). A grizzly bear would devour this lesser being, which does not deserve its awesome name.

SOUTH

Virginia Cavaliers over Gardner-Webb Bulldogs

It’s been a rough tournament for bulldogs. Here, a bulldog finds itself being run through by a cavalier’s rapier as he rides away into the sunset.

Oklahoma Sooners over Mississippi Rebels

The Confederacy was a failed state whose sole act was to lose a devastating war in the name of slavery. Mississippi loses.

Wisconsin Badgers over Oregon Ducks

This fight would be so adorable I wouldn’t want either one to lose. I like to think they would come to a mutual understanding and the duck would gracefully concede to the badger.

Kansas State Wildcats over UC Irvine Anteaters

No matter how overrated wildcats are as predators, a wildcat most certainly is not an ant. Luckily, the sole weakness of the mighty anteater is anything that’s not an ant.

St. Mary’s Gaels over Villanova Wildcats

In this case, “Gaels” just refers to the average Gaelic person, not necessarily a Gaelic warrior. But wildcats are basically housecats that happen to live in the woods, so I’m not too worried about it winning a fight with a person.

Purdue Boilermakers over Old Dominion Monarchs

The revolution of the proletariat that Marx predicted. The industrial working class (boilermakers) will violently overthrow the old aristocracy (monarchs). It is inevitable.

Cincinnati Bearcats over Iowa Hawkeyes

Have you ever seen a picture of a bearcat? It might be the most appropriately named animal on earth. It also eats birds, unfortunately for hawkeyes (which I am assuming are the eyes of hawks), since they are attached to a bird.

Colgate Raiders over Tennessee Volunteers

One of the more one-sided fights we will see. A raider is a person who forcefully takes money from people. A volunteer is someone who doesn’t even go as far as to ask for money. The raider is clearly more prepared to fight another person and will win here.

North Carolina Tar Heels over Iona Gaels

Literally just two people from two different places fighting. A Gael is someone from the highlands of Britain. A Tar Heel is someone from North Carolina. I’m going to give this to the Tar Heel, because the Gael would be fighting away from home no matter if the fight was at Iona or North Carolina. At least the Tar Heel might have some kind of home-court-advantage.

Washington Huskies over Utah State Aggies

Aggies is short for “agriculturalists,” which basically means farmer to me. I think if a husky really wanted to, it could beat a farmer in a fight. Or at least make the farmer feel bad for trying to fight a beautiful dog.

Auburn Tigers over New Mexico State Aggies

Another fight goes poorly for an aggie. Here’s a fun fact about tigers: they are one of the few species on earth that include humans as parts of their natural diets.

Northeastern Huskies over Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas used to be the Jayhawkers, named after a militant abolitionist group in the 1850’s. But not anymore. Now they are the Jayhawks, and I regret to inform you that a Jayhawk is not an actual type of bird. Huskies, however, are an actual type of dog.

Iowa State Cyclones over Ohio State Buckeyes

I really don’t think we will find any matchup that a cyclone would lose. An unrelenting, unfeeling weather pattern would beat anything in a fight. To make matters worse, a buckeye is just a kind of plant, which would lose just about any matchup. This would be a blowout (pun intended).

Houston Cougars and Georgia State Panthers, one of them wins

Okay, we have a problem here. Apparently, in North America, cougars and panthers are the same animal. That means we have two of the same animal fighting each other. The winner will be indistinguishable from the loser. Whatever wins will be also known by other names such as “mountain lion” or “puma” (yes, all the same animal).

Seton Hall Pirates over Wofford Terriers

Terriers are generally standard dogs in terms of fighting ability, and pirates are notoriously ruthless and definitely not above shooting one with a pistol or slashing one with a sword. The pirate wins this one.

Kentucky Wildcats versus Abilene Christian Wildcats. Oh no.

Oh no. No, no, no, no. I knew this would happen. Some colleges are really uncreative with nicknames (just look at the number of tigers in the southeast). And now, we have the worst-case scenario, featuring the least creative nickname of all: wildcats. We have already seen a lot of them in the tournament, and now two wildcats must fight. Like the earlier cougar-panther fight, it does not matter which one wins, and I don’t think anyone wins in this case. We all lose.

Early tournament favorites appear to be the Iowa State Cyclones, Auburn and LSU Tigers, Florida Gators, and UCF Golden Knights. The weakest team is undoubtedly the Syracuse Orange, followed by the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

I believe my methodology is as sound as anyone else’s. If you think otherwise, please show me your perfect bracket as proof.