Final Four and Fancy Free

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So…We are down to the Final Four and as usual, it’s not who anyone predicted. This tournament has had some huge upsets, the largest of which was probably the 2nd seeded dynasty team, Duke being defeated by 1st time tournament team and 14th seed, Mercer. My favourite’s, the Wichita State Shockers were finally defeated after a 34-0 season ,in their 2nd round by 8th seed Kentucky and all that are left of the top 12 teams I covered in the last article, are the Florida Gators and the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Gators will face off against 7th seed, University of Connecticut who have been a surprising addition to the Final Four. Remember that the lower seeds face a tougher bracket than the higher seeded teams, so while they are outranked by Florida,  they have already bested a 1st seed this tournament. On the other side of the bracket we have The Badgers, who just beat top ranked Arizona in a crazy, tight game that made Arizona fans so mad, they started a riot. They will face 8th seeded  Kentucky in their next game and the winners go on to the championship.

So….How to decide now? All the teams have obviously earned their spots winning four consecutive games in the last few weeks, and with two of these teams ranked as 7th and 8th seeds, they have unseated teams that were classified as much better. However, instead of focusing on all that talent and all those statistics I have decided to talk about their mascots, because the way this tournament has played out so far, it seems as good of a way as anything.

Without further ado…

Florida has a great couple of mascotsnamed named Albert and Aberta. They are alligators and should be given extra points as they are the only male/female pairing this year. Actually, I think Alberta might just be the only female mascot in the tournament. So they are very equal opportunity. They are also a very charmingpair – check this out.gators

What a lovely pair! But don’t underestimate them, they can be very scary and intimidating too…like here in logo form Albert doesn’t seem cute at all.

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And did I mention that they do magic??

But Albert and Alberta may be at a disadvantage, because the University of Connecticut has a REAL HUSKY PUPPY as their mascot. It’s not Florida’s fault really, its much harder to keep an alligator on campus, but still. This is Jonathon XIV and he is very cute indeed. Jonathon is just under a year old and is cared for predominantly by ten students on the mascot committee.

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Uconn redesigned their logo last year, making it a more menacing husky than it used to be. Unfortunately, one student took offence and wrote an open letter to the school president requesting they not change their logo. She said that the new logo promoted rape. Now this might be a bit of a stretch but having read the letter, I think she was trying to use the logo change as a way of talking about the changing attitude of the athletic program at the school, with two sexual assault cases that year involving athletes. 

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However, this caused quite a backlash. A bunch of awful people tried to make light of her protestations by making rape memes with the Husky logo, putting a rather unattractive blemish on the otherwise adorable dog. They are all too awful to post but if you google ‘UConn Husky Rape Meme’, I promise you will be repulsed.

But, the husky logo itself is not to blame for the internet. And I don’t find his new sharp jaw particularly aggressive. Certainly no more than Albert up there. However if you thought he just got a make over, you’d be wrong. Here he is training with the great George St. Pierre, so It’s going to be a hard won fight.

Jonathan XIV could certainly tear the head off the costumed Albert and Alberta but in a real alligator/dog fight, I don’t think that husky stands much of a chance. So Gators to the final!

Now the Wisconsin Badgers have one of the cutest mascots in all of sports. His name is Buckingham U Badger, Bucky for short – and there’s a history there too. Apparently Wisconsin was named ‘The Badger State’ in the 1800’s because the minors who lived there were forced to dig tunnels into the landscape to survive the winter cold. In 2003 the school purchased a real badgers a live mascot, but he turned out to be very hard to control – who knew? He was briefly replaced by a raccoon who they tried to trick everyone into believing was a badger, but that didn’t last long either. 

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Bucky is tiny but has a real attitude, as you can see by his strut. He doesn’t mess around okay? At football games he does push ups based on the score after touchdowns and picks fights with other mascots. It should be noted that Mascot fighting was banned by the NCAA. My original thought was ‘Do mascots really fight often enough for this to be a rule?’ And then I stumbled upon this…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U033uQr6Xo

and this…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pgWHzRFtZk

and this…involving Bucky himself, although this one was clearly unprovoked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPWXPeNsbRw

Oh and Bucky has his own dance too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxDkvLdupoM

But he has a challenger in the Kentucky Wildcats who is ferocious indeed. Of all the Wildcats I’ve talked about this year, this one is by far the most intimidating and compared to a badger, he’s rather big too.

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Kentucky has two dress up mascots. One of them is named Scratch and he occasionally stands on stilts. His partner is mysteriously unnamed – just known as ‘The Original Wildcat’, which I find oddly impressive

Here is ‘The original Wildcat’ presumably being a little bit racist.

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They also have a live bobcat named Blue that lives at a Wildlife center because, surprise surprise, bobcats don’t like screaming crowds. I don’t know why either of these schools didn’t see that issue coming.

Now, If a Wildcat and a Badger faced off in the big bag wild, it really wouldn’t be any competition. The Bobcat would destroy the badger, but I think in mascot world, the badger may just come through. Bucky really looks tough. So…I’m going Wisconsin and Florida in the final, though that means eliminating the lower seeded underdogs. I console myself with it being March Madness, so it’s anyones game. 

 

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