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The 2021 NCAA Tournament, as a mascot basketbrawl

What if the games weren’t decided on the court, but in the octagon?

NCAA Basketball: Dayton at VCU Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What would happen if the NCAA Tournament was decided based solely on the mascots fighting? Here’s a rundown of every mid-major matchup, and what would happen if their mascots fought, instead of actual basketball. I’ll be going off a combination of both the costumed mascots, the props they hold onto, and the idea of the mascot itself.

First Four:

Norfolk State Spartans vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers

Thinking about this at first, I thought the Mountaineer would easily beat up a Spartan. But App State’s Yosef just looks like a tubby lumberjack, Spiro the Spartan wins big.

Wichita State Shockers vs. Drake Bulldogs

What even is a Shocker? Can it fight? Drake’s live bulldog, Griff II, would easily take on some dude named WuShock, who I’m still not positive is even a real thing.

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers vs. Texas Southern Tigers

Rounding out the First Four is the first repeat mascot. Mount St. Mary’s mascot Emmit is jacked, especially compared to App State’s. Texas Southern’s tiger looks soft and weak, I’m going Emmit S. Burg and the Mountaineers.

West Region:

Creighton Blue Jays vs. Cal Santa Barbara Gauchos

Both Santa Barbara’s logo and costumed mascot look like they’d shoot a bird down no problem, but if it’s straight fist-fighting, I still have the Gaucho. Dude’s just too scary looking to doubt.

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Ohio Bobcats

My legitimate pick on this game is pretty obvious with the piece I wrote about the Bobcats, but in a fight, I think differently. Virginia has both a costumed mascot and a real dude that is jacked with swords, that’ll take down a bobcat easily.

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Eastern Washington Eagles

This one would be one of the fairest fights on here. They’re both decent-sized birds, and both have super basic names in Big Jay and Swoop the Eagle. In the end, EWU’s Swoop looks like he’d use his strength and beak size to his advantage, winning the fight against Big Jay.

Oregon Ducks vs. VCU Rams

The Oregon Duck is a fan favorite, but bro doesn’t look like a fighter. I might be a little partial to Rams, with it being my high school’s mascot, but VCU’s Rodney the Ram would come out on top.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Grand Canyon Antelopes

In the real world, an antelope wouldn’t stand a chance fighting much of anything. Looking at the mascots, it’s much of the same. GCU’s Thunder might be able to use his antlers to his advantage, but outside of that, Herky the Hawk would take him down.

East Region:

LSU Tigers vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies

LSU has a legitimate tiger as their mascot. Mike by 1,000.

Florida State Seminoles vs. UNC Greensboro Spartans

Both teams have gladiator-like mascots, but the horse will be the difference between an FSU win or loss. Even though he’s not technically a basketball mascot, Renegade the Horse will control who wins the fight. If he’s unruly, advantage Greensboro.

Texas Longhorns vs. Abilene Christian Wildcats

Another one with a huge live mascot that would just wreck its opponent. Bevo, costumed or the real steer, isn’t going down to ACU’s Willie. Maybe if he had a sick name he’d have a better shot.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Iona Gaels

Alabama uses an elephant in Big Al as their mascot, while Iona uses a kinda buff, Abraham Lincoln looking thing for theirs. Big Al just doesn’t have enough muscle to beat up the Gael, unless he found some way to use his trunk to win. Iona ends up on top.

South Region:

Baylor Bears vs. Hartford Hawks

Only the second matchup where both teams are two words. It wouldn’t even be fair. Baylor’s mascot is named Bruiser, and buddy would bruise up Hartford’s Howie the Hawk if they brawled.

Villanova Wildcats vs. Winthrop Eagles

Both of these mascots are just kinda bleh. A pair of more common mascots, neither holds a big advantage if they drop the gloves. Villanova’s wildcat does look more ferocious than the majority of college wildcats, and that would help him to a win over Winthrop’s Big Stuff the Eagle.

Purdue Boilermakers vs. North Texas Mean Green

UNT is hosting the NIT, and luckily there’s not an NIT for mascot fighting because North Texas would be in it. The Mean Green have an eagle as their mascot, and it wouldn’t stand a chance against sledgehammer-carrying Purdue Pete. Boilers big.

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Utah State Aggies

I’m not entirely sure what an Aggie is, but USU uses a bull so we’ll go with that. The blue bull would definitely put up a fight against the Red Raider, but in the end, the Red Raider has a gun — the true equalizer in the fight.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Colgate Raiders

Colgate has a revolutionary era minuteman-looking mascot. Arkansas brings a red pig, or a razorback to the table. The tusks of the Razorback will be enough to take down the kinda weak looking Colgate Raider. You’d think, being the Raiders, they’d make their mascot jacked.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

Both these mascots have been in scuffles before, as Brutus Buckeye got wiped out by Rufus the Bobcat in 2010, and Eli the Eagle fought IUPUI’s Jaguar in 2008. Eli got put in his place back in 2008, and that would happen again if he threw down against Brutus.

Midwest Region

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Drexel Dragons

In one of the biggest mismatches of this whole exercise, Drexel would probably win the whole tournament based solely on mascot fighting ability. You can’t confidently tell me that a dragon is going to lose to any mascot in this tournament, Drexel by 20.

Loyola University Chicago Ramblers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Loyola uses a wolf for its costumed mascot and the actual wolf doesn’t look quite as frightening as the one in their logo. Buzz from Georgia Tech is a classic mascot, but his buggy eyes don’t really invoke fear in anyone. I do think a wolf is a little more powerful than a bee, and that would carry Loyola to a win.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Liberty Flames

Liberty uses an eagle as its mascot, thankfully not named Swoop, but I don’t think Sparky the Eagle would stand much of a chance against Pistol Pete. Dude has the word pistol in his name, and carries a pair of them. Pete’s winning this battle.

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Syracuse Orange

This one’s easy, an aztec warrior or a fruit? It wouldn’t even be a challenge for the Aztecs. They’d eat up Syracuse as a snack.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Morehead State Eagles

Mountaineers is a pretty good mascot to take in a fight against anyone, and West Virginia proves that. A Davey Crockett-looking coonskin hat and a gun would strike fear into anyone, especially an unsuspecting eagle.

Houston Cougars vs. Cleveland State Vikings

Well Cleveland isn’t a state, but a viking would be able to put up a good fight against a cougar. Houston’s costumed cougar just isn’t scary enough to keep Cleveland State’s Magnus in check, as he goes on to win the fight against Houston.