EDIT: This article has been revised to add UMKC’s tremendous #PouchOfOuch hashtag.
College basketball teams are brands. No, this isn’t some wacky Darren Rovell take.
As techy and cringeworthy as it sounds, one could argue it’s important for college basketball teams to cultivate unique online presences in order to not only stand out amongst the morass of Twitter, but also foster a sense of solidarity amongst their fans. Most teams choose to do this by using a simple hashtag to promote a consistent brand. Take, for instance, Long Beach State’s consistent use of #GoBeach in the following tweets:
Since nothing screams “offseason content” quite like me getting irrationally irked over trivial things — one could call it My Brand™ — I scrolled through tweets from all 243 mid-major teams in search of the 10 best and worst hashtags in mid-major basketball.
I quickly realized a good hashtag is hard to find.
Most teams opt for a simple #Go[Mascot], #[Mascots]Up or #[Mascot]Hoops. Others opt for cliches like #[Mascot]Rising, #[Mascot]Nation or include “believe” in some way, shape or form. These options are fine if you think beige is a good color, don’t enjoy sauces or seasoning or still have a Hotmail account in 2018. Say what you will about these mundane approaches, but they get the job done.
But sometimes playing it safe is better than trying hard and failing miserably, like these teams:
|Sam Houston State||#EatEmUpKats|
Yikes. That’s a murderer’s row of questionable decisions, non sequiturs and quasi-double entendres.
Admittedly, some of these schools put a lot of effort into their hashtags (see: St. Bonaventure’s callback to its longtime fight song, North Alabama getting a little too cute with lion-related terms, or Sam Houston State’s wordy, caps-filled #EatEmUpKats), but some of these were lazy (and it shows). Coming up with tags like #ClevelandRocks or #CatsAreWild is what happens when you throw something together at the last second, but try a little too hard to hide that you did.
But the real stinkers of the bunch are the non-sequiturs. North Dakota’s #PledgeYourLoyalty sounds demanding at best and cultish at worst. South Alabama’s #BurnTheBoats only makes sense to those who a) are Richie Riley or b) read this website. Chief amongst these is Eastern Illinois’ vague #BuildTheBrand campaign, because everyone knows that mid-major basketball programs are actually Silicon Valley startups.
This leaves Campbell’s #RollHumps (which can give an entirely unwanted, disturbingly vivid mental image), Sam Houston State’s punchy, caps-lock atrocity #EatEmUpKats and Lamar’s #PeckEm. I’ll let this site’s Slack take the wheel for the last one:
With all of this said, what makes a good hashtag? The following ten hashtags stood out because of their catchiness, creativity and clever allusions to the teams they represent:
|Florida Gulf Coast||#DunkCity|
Now that’s more like it.
Simple hashtags like #DunkCity or #MakeShots are jam-packed with so much history without trying too hard — referencing Florida Gulf Coast’s exciting 2013 tournament run and the iconic Princeton offense were obvious, yet effective choices. Tags like #DunkinDogs, #EmbraceThePace or #BirdsofTrey are fantastic allusions to their teams’ modi operandi. The latter two have styles of play that are brands in and of themselves: Dugger Baucom is notorious for his fast-paced teams, whereas North Florida has been a top-100 three-point shooting team in three of the past five seasons.
Puns like #Splashville and #Blockingham work on multiple levels: They reference not only their schools’ locations, but also their respective styles of play. Speaking of location, it’d be remiss not to mention UMKC referring to its new home at the Swinney Recreation Center as the #PouchOfOuch. My goodness. I’m blown away.
This leaves Ball State’s #ChirpChirp and UC Irvine’s #ZOT. Rival schools will probably find these quirky, yet catchy-as-hell sayings annoying, but they’re probably just jealous that their schools don’t have fun, mildly-absurd catchphrases. The fact that both of these fanbases are fairly online makes these hashtags even better. Make fun of #ChirpChirp or #ZOT at your own peril.