Will the Gators Chomp the Tigers?
The second round of Slate’s NCAA Tournament mascot death match.
No. 16 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs vs. No. 9 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
To golden eagles circling in the sky, their wings measuring seven majestic feet from end to end, bulldogs might appear to be easy pickings. They’re far smaller than ibex, say, or mountain goats, both of which have fallen prey to eagles in the wild. But on first attack, the eagles’ talons will likely sink into folds of skin with little effect. And if a bulldog can clamp onto a leg or a wing, it’s not going to let go until it rips it off or dies trying. Yet the eagles will adjust, perhaps dive-bombing the dogs and then floating back out of reach; bulldogs, like white men, aren’t known for their jumping. In the end, they’ll suffer death by a thousand pecks.
No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 13 Montana Grizzlies
Whether this is a fair fight depends on whether the commodores carry guns. As mentioned in the first round, their namesake is Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was not actually a naval officer, just a really rich guy who liked boats. And even if they’re armed, the commodores would have to aim well and fire fast, as grizzlies can sustain multiple gunshots and keep coming. It’ll be messy, but the grizzlies survive.
No. 11 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 3 Florida State Seminoles
Few animals can take down a half-ton longhorn, but armed warriors on horseback have a better chance than most. The Seminoles’ fate will depend on what weapons they employ—over the years, they used not only the iconic tomahawk, but clubs, spears, blow guns, and eventually muskets. Tomahawks won’t get the job done here, but a flaming spear like the one Chief Osceola plants before each Florida State home football game will. The Seminoles ride into the Sweet 16.
No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 15 Loyola Greyhounds
Greyhounds can hit 40 mph in pursuit of a bunny. That’s not fast enough to outrun a bullet.
No. 16 Vermont Catamounts vs. No. 8 Creighton Blue Jays
Blue jays are feisty, and their mobility helped them score an upset over a crimson tide in the first round. But catamounts are cougars. They ate the Tar Heels last round, and now they’ll feast on bird.
No. 12 South Florida Bulls vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines
The bulls have the toughest road in this tournament. Having already gored the mighty golden bears and tracked down the elusive owls, they now face five vicious wolverines. Yet the wolverines themselves are battered from their own win over the bobcats, and they lack the size and power to bring down an aggressive one-ton bovine. The wolverines draw blood, but a few well-placed horns end their campaign.
No. 6 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. No. 14 Belmont Bruins
The wolfpack, licking their wounds after a close win over the Aztecs, cannot be thrilled to see a bunch of hulking brown bears in the second round. These foes have met before in the wild, where they occasionally tangle over a carcass. Packs of wolves can sometimes use their superior teamwork to slay an inexperienced bruin, but this revealing footage shows a lone juvenile bear fighting at least four wolves to a standoff. The bruins lumber on.
No. 10 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 15 Detroit Titans
Gods though they may be, it’s not inconceivable that titans could be defeated. In Greek mythology, Zeus and his Olympian siblings managed it, albeit only after a 10-year war and with help from the Cyclops and some hundred-handed giants. Alas, while the boilermakers’ welding and coal-heaving skills would surely please Hephaestus, they’re no match for a team that includes, among others, a god who can bear the whole world on his back.