At risk of being (rightfully) accused of #EastCoastBias, I have to say: the East Region in the 2017 Mid-Major Madness Mascot Melee is incredibly strong.
It all starts up top with noted Very Good Dog Handsome Dan. The Yale mascot is the No. 1 overall seed, and is probably the only reason the Saint Joseph’s Hawk was bumped down to the 2 line — a mascot that flaps his wings all game commands respect!
The strength of this region doesn’t stop with the top two, either. There’s Emmit from Mount St. Mary’s, who you may remember from the NCAA Tournament. There’s also a peacock, another live animal mascot, and our second and third Atlantic 10 vs. Atlantic 10 clashes of the melee.
Here’s a complete look at the East Region:
1. Handsome Dan (Yale) vs. 16. Rhett (Boston University)
WHO’S A GOOD DOG? WHO’S A GOOD DOG? HANDSOME DAN IS A GOOD DOG YES HE IS.
Here, watch this Geico commercial about the Running of the Bulldogs, a totally real thing that happens.
8. YoUDee (Delaware) vs. 9. Highlander (NJIT)
How do you turn a hen into a cool mascot? Make it blue and give it a cool backstory. Delaware claims YoUDee is the great-great-great-grandson of revolutionary war hero Col. George W. YoUDee, and you know what? I see no reason to try and verify that. I am assuming it’s true. History meets the future in this matchup because YoUDee gets one of the newest Division I mascots in the Highlander from NJIT. Check out that kilt! If only they kept the original Highlander...
5. Bill the Goat (Navy) vs. 12. Wolfie (Stony Brook)
You’ll get all the goat puns you need in the video above. I won’t do that here. He’s a goat. He’s adorable. Curious about Wolfie’s credentials? Stony Brook’s athletics site has you covered. He’s the 2009 Three Village Sportsman of the Year and was a finalist for Best Mascot in the Long Island Press Best of Long Island 2011, 2012, and 2013 contests. He was also on a SportsCenter commercial. Good Wolfie.
4. Mario the Magnificent (Drexel) vs. 13. Rally (Vermont)
The following is true, and you can read it yourself: Mario the Magnificent is Drexel’s mascot. He was named after a man named Mario Mascioli. Mascioli did not miss a Drexel game for 25 years. All the normal cool dragon stuff pales in comparison to a mascot being named after a guy whose name is basically mascot. Will that be enough to get by Cinderella candidate Rally? Maybe. But Vermont has a rabid fanbase and they are quite vocal on Twitter. Rally fans will mobilize.
6. Rhody (Rhode Island) vs. 11. Sam (UMass)
Atlantic 10 on Atlantic 10 action. New England on New England action. Grab a Dunkin and maybe a grinder. Then head to the packy (responsibly!) and stock up on the essentials to watch this one play out.
Quick blog note: We are (I am) vehemently anti-Saw and Pats. Take your Brady takes elsewhere.
3. Emmit S. Burg (Mount St. Mary’s) vs. 14. Shadow (Monmouth)
Remember that epic mascot dance-off in the NCAA Tournament? Yeah, that was Emmit S. Burg at the center of it. It’s not something you’d expect from a big and burly mascot, but there you have it. Fun fact: His favorite song is Back in Black by AC/DC. Then there’s Shadow, a perfect representation of the Monmouth Hawk. He wears No. 33 as a nod to the school’s founding year (33 BC, I believe), and in his spare time, he can be seen doing charity work or going to school. What a good hawk.
7. Peacock (St. Peter’s) vs. 10. Big Red (Sacred Heart)
I don’t know about you, but when I think Jersey City, I think peacocks. While his design may not differ much from, say, Shadow the Hawk (except for the peacock thingy up top and the feathers on his back), his bright color really sets him apart. It’s a bold move for an otherwise nondescript MAAC school. Before this project began, I assumed Sacred Heart’s mascot was athletic director Bobby Valentine in a fake mustache. I was pleasantly surprised, instead, to find out that it is actually Big Red, a giant pioneer with wide eyes and a beaming smile.
2. Hawk (Saint Joseph’s) vs. 15. Bona (St. Bonaventure)
Story time! I was covering the 2014 Atlantic 10 Tournament for our friends at the mothership, and after the championship game as Saint Joseph’s was celebrating on the court, I wandered around for a bit, trying to watch the team cut down the nets. The Saint Joseph’s Hawk, flapping away, as he is required to do, came up alongside me. He took off his mascot head. Underneath was the sweatiest college student I’ve ever seen. It occurred to me then: this happens close to 100 times a year. Some poor (or honored) student has to flap nonstop for two hours. For every men’s and women’s basketball home and tournament game, plus a bunch of other sporting events too, probably. Think of the condition you have to be in! Think of the discipline that takes! Credit to every student to ever don that costume. The Hawk will never die. The Hawk’s first-round opponent will be conference rival Bona Wolf, from St. Bonaventure. A mascot with only a forced connection to his school, Bona earns points for antics like this and photos like this.
Iggy (Loyola Md.)
TOMORROW WE WILL REVEAL THE FINAL REGION, THE MIDWEST. IMMEDIATELY AFTER, THAT STORY IS POSTED, FIRST-ROUND VOTING WILL BEGIN.