There are plenty of ways to fill out a bracket. People who know nothing about college basketball fill out brackets simply because of how big of a phenomenon it is. If you’re in an office pool and have nothing to lose, sometimes you’ll choose all favorites, all upsets, the team with the preferable location to live, but a common choice is mascot.
We’ve broken down all 68 of the mascots and re-seeded the entire tournament. March Madness also means that iconic mascot you see parading down the court as a buzzer-beater is hit.
68-67: Miami Hurricanes, Iowa State Cyclones
I think it’s important to get on the public record and disavow natural disasters that have destroyed many homes and killed many people.
66-64: CSU Fullerton Titans, Duke Blue Devils, Providence Friars
Anyone who claims divine right as a mascot is one that should also be disavowed, especially the Friar, who is terrifying, and Coach K, who not only looks like the Duke Blue Devil, but is also frightening.
63-56: San Francisco Dons, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Colgate Raiders, Seton Hall Pirates, USC Trojans, Michigan State Spartans, Norfolk State Spartans, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Any sort of barbaric warrior or colonialist is in all-likelihood not a good hang or a pleasant person in general that probably committed many violent acts that would never fly today, and the human mascot parading around the sidelines is just ultimately a guy that scares kids. The Dons are even an acronym for “de origin noble,” which somehow makes them not only bad dudes, but condescending bad dudes at that as well.
55-54: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, St. Mary’s Gaels
Just hostile Irish folklore. What makes matters worse is that for Notre Dame they could have easily used Clashmore Mike, an adorable Irish Setter that they adopted for a while during the Knute Rockne era, but instead you get a silly leprechaun trying to throw fisticuffs in a green suit.
53. Richmond Spiders
Name one person who loves encountering a spider (no, radioactive ones that give you wall-climbing abilities and super strength don’t count).
52. Indiana Hoosiers
Literally just someone from Indiana, which is speaking pretty proud of oneself to say the least.
51. Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders
While there’s an implied association with Native Islander Warriors, like Maui from the movie Moana, in reality it leaves you subconsciously thinking about a rich person that owns a boat on an island. You want to take that person down.
50. Ohio State Buckeyes
I don’t care how legendary the school’s football helmets and stickers are. Their mascot is a nut.
49. Purdue Boilermakers
Sure, steelworkers were the blue collar grinders who forged hard to lay down the foundation from the modern progress of urban America, but Purdue Pete is nightmare fuel. No, do not look up a picture of him if your children are in the room.
48-46: North Carolina Tar Heels, Wyoming Cowboys, New Mexico State Aggies
Rural workers who provided for their family and worked hard to get by. While there’s nothing wrong with that and a dedicated work ethic is admirable, it’s just not very exciting. Thankfully, the Tar Heels are saved by the best blue in basketball and Ramses, the Wyoming color scheme of brown and yellow rules, and the New Mexico State Aggie is a fantastic cartoon image.
45-44: Illinois Fighting Illini, Chattanooga Mocs
They’re a good combination of cool, yet hard-fighting nicknames for native tribes as long as they’re both used respectfully and with class that in no way insults the people.
43. Alabama Crimson Tide
While in no way indigenous to Alabama, Big Al the Elephant is a wholesome mascot, and it’s disappointing when you find out that a “tide” is not a group of elephants, but just refers to a historical game where they tied Auburn 6-6 as massive underdogs in 1907. To put it in perspective: Alabama named themselves after a game they were just happy to not lose. Want a participation trophy too?
42-40: Boise State Broncos, Longwood Lancers, Murray State Racers
Horses are fine. Majestic creatures, but just a fine mascot.
39-36: Kansas Jayhawks, Virginia Tech Hokies, Delaware Blue Hens, Jacksonville State Gamecocks
These are all, in their own unique way, a bit of a stupid-looking bird. The Kansas Jayhawk looks the most blissfully-unaware, but at least they have the “ROCK-CHALK! JAYHAWK!” chant that sounds incredible at games. Virginia Tech has an “evolved turkey” with arguably one of the worst color schemes in college sports to pair with it. Delaware and Jacksonville State justh have menacing chickens, one blue and the other red.
35. Creighton Bluejays
It’s just a commonplace bird that apparently is mean in nature.
34. Iowa Hawkeyes
It’s just a meaner bird that does not look as dopey and also functions as the name for someone from Iowa.
33. Marquette Golden Eagles
In any other way the eagle would be one of the most commonplace mascot names in all of sports, but Marquette having the desire to add “golden” as a distinguisher before it somehow elevates it and makes it that much more prestigious.
32. Saint Peter’s Peacocks
Now THIS is a majestic, elegant, and also intimidating bird mascot that we all probably didn’t know existed until Saint Peter’s made the tournament! If only they had a rainbow color scheme as opposed to simply navy.
31-28: Arizona Wildcats, Kentucky Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats, Davidson Wildcats
Wildcats have become so commonplace that it feels like a bit of a copout at this point. High School Musical even uses it as their generic school mascot. However, it’s been successful given that each school has either won a National Championship or produced the greatest shooter in history, Stephen Curry.
27. Montana State Bobcats
Literally the same but bobcats have cuter ears and would probably appeal to children at the games more. Montana State gets a Public Relations W.
26-24: Houston Cougars, Georgia State Panthers, Vermont Catamounts
In that exact order, to be precise, because while a cougar is an intimidating big cat, a panther is indigenous to more continents, so they’re more well-traveled, and a Catamount is a far superior name to say “cougar” that should be used more often.
23. Colorado State Rams
A Ram is another commonly used one, but when has anyone ever been unhappy with a Ram? You can make it menacing to your opponent with its large horns, but it’s also unassuming enough as a creature to where it gets the people or the kids fired up to see him. It also fits so perfectly for the mountainous Colorado and the green and gold is a nice color scheme.
22. Texas Longhorns
The larger, bigger-horned, more iconic edition. Sorry, CSU. Burnt Orange is reigning here.
21. Akron Zips
- It’s blasphemous that we don’t have more kangaroo mascots
And 2. They’re the zips because a company in Akron was responsible for the rising popularity of zippers on pants. City history and a zany animal? Akron has the right idea.
20. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
It’s so perfect that South Dakota State, a potential Cinderella Story in the tournament looking to make a darling run, is also the jackrabbits, a scrappy and elusive animal with pesk-like characteristics as if they’re ready to mess up someone’s bracket.
19. Arkansas Razorbacks
Ultimately, they’re angry pigs that will mess up your farm, but there’s something kind of perfect about that for March Madness since they’re such small yet ruthless fat animals when you back them into a corner. It embodies Coach Eric Musselman ripping his shirt off to celebrate with the team and yelling into the cameras after pulling off a big upset.
18-17 Baylor Bears, UCLA Bruins
“Bruin” is just a more superior way to say “bear” from folklore, and you can never go wrong with a bear. They might be the strongest, invincible mauling machines in the animal kingdom, but are also the premiere plush toy that has been sold across our nation for decades after a president was nicknamed after one. Bears rule.
16. Loyola Chicago Ramblers
The “Rambler” name goes back to the football team “rambling” around the country from place to place for their games, but they have a menacing wolf as their logo with Gryffindor-esque colored scarves in their crowd. But let’s be honest: the unofficial mascot for Loyola is Sister Jean, the adorable old Chaplain of the team who sits in her chair on the sidelines that captured our hearts in 2018 on their Final Four run.
15. Michigan Wolverines
Wolverines are just plain vicious little carnivores that dominate in the snow, and outside of the Marvel hero, you just associate them with Michigan and no one else- that’s how iconic it is.
14. Wisconsin Badgers
Almost the exact same animal, but Bucky and the white and black stripes make him the more adorable, appealing, good guy to root for of the two.
13. TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frog is about 3 inches off the ground but carries itself like it’s bigger than Shaq and squirts blood from their eyes as an intimidation factor to prevent predator attacks. TCU has adopted the red streaks from that in some uniforms and color schemes, and it looks so powerful for a mascot that small.
12. UAB Blazers
It’s a fire-breathing dragon, but has a better name for it to fit with the alliteration for Birmingham to make it all the more satisfying. We need more teams with mythical creatures as mascots.
11-8: Auburn Tigers, LSU Tigers, Texas Southern Tigers, Memphis Tigers
It may be one of the most commonly-used mascots in all of professional and amateur sports, but the tiger is always going to be classic and iconic. For example, take Mike the Tiger from LSU looking so gorgeous and terrifying at the same time with those hypnotizing stripes when he’s in his cage prior to football games. They are beautiful, yet dominant, and one of the most perfect mascots in sports.
Tie for 1st: Gonzaga Bulldogs, Yale Bulldogs, Bryant Bulldogs, Connecticut Huskies, Wright State Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers (all dog mascots)
They’re all good boys.