Show some spirit when picking your bracket   

Updated: March 17, 2008, 4:14 PM ET

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Forget about what the field of 65 is putting on the court, the great equalizer when judging these teams is their respective mascots. That's what you're rooting for -- be it a bird, cat, dog or anthropomorphic blob. Whether you realize it or not, you cheer for the mascot, not the players.

So when you finally decide to sit down and fill out your bracket, using the mascots is definitely the way to go. This is the criteria: What would you (a human that is) be most intimidated by? A simple rule leads to a simple pick.


On Friday, we promised to help you win your NCAA pool. Here are our nine foolproof methods.
The 10th -- straight chalk -- will be figured into the Page 2 group bracket as a control variable.
Stay tuned to Page 2 throughout the NCAA tournament to see how our brackets stack up.

Best unis
Our uniform expert breaks down attire aesthetics.
Uni bracket
Mascot fight
Which school has the most intimidating mascot?
Mascot bracket
Celeb alums
Which school has the most star power?
Celeb bracket
Inverse graduation rate
Which program graduates the fewest players?
Grad rate bracket
Coach appearance
Which coach is best-dressed for success?
Dapper coach bracket
Collegiate beers
If each school was a beer, which one would you drink?
Beer bracket
Cred, creed
Who has the right mix of street cred and religious clout?
Cred and creed bracket
Cheesy slogan
School slogans can say a lot. Who has the best one?
Slogan bracket
Non-hoops jocks
Which school produces the most successful non-basketball athletes?
Non-hoops jocks bracket

No need to analyze things like points in the paint, transition defense and that annoying field goal percentage. Think about it -- all that stuff is useless when you're facing off against a Governor and a Longhorn.

Easiest region (to pick) Midwest. After you get rid of all the annoying birds and cats, you're left with a few dogs (literally) and a showdown between Yosemite Sam a rebel and one ferocious badger. Wisconsin in a walk.

Toughest region (to pick) South. Like most regions, it has more than its share of cats to choose from, but the presence of severe weather (Hurricanes) and what could be a biological weapon of mass destruction (Big Red) made this a tough one to pick. In the end, as one reader noted to us, take the guy who did win the Trojan War back the in day (Spartans) to clean house.

Easiest pick (single game) UNLV over Kent State. The Golden Flashes (or eagles or whatever) would get the Indiana Jones treatment from the Rebels -- and by that we mean shot.

Toughest pick (single game) Kentucky over Miami. While a Hurricane can do quite a bit of damage, you definitely can see it coming and get out of the way. A Wildcat? Just ask any cat-hater out there. Those cats are pretty sneaky.

Biggest upset (in entire bracket) Mississippi Valley State over UCLA. OK, they're going against the mighty Bruins, but that Delta Devil isn't the refined boarding school mascot from Duke. He's from the Bayou and he looks pretty pissed off.

First-round flop Tennessee Volunteers loss to the American Eagles. The Vols ... or Smokey the coonhound ... or whatever. They would be the play-in game in any mascot bracket. Needless to say, the American Eagles (while sounding like a commuter airline) are far more intimidating and go on to the second round.

Sleeper school While the Xavier Musketeers aren't as heavy as they could be in the intimidation category (their on-court mascot is named D'Artagnan) the dude is still packing a sword.

Final Four shockers Washington State Cougars. As we learned in "Talladega Nights," you don't want to show fear to a Cougar, and in the end that ferocity is no match for a magical leprechaun, a feral pig or a covered wagon.

Buy stock in The Oklahoma Sooners. They may not make it all the way, but they have what it takes to make it to at least the Elite Eight. Hey, if you've ever been victim of a covered wagon, you know they can be deadly.

Sell stock in The Kansas Jayhawks. Half blue jay. Half sparrow hawk. Totally unintimidating.

Obvious pick we still like anyway Davidson over Georgetown. Yes, a Davidson Wildcat is far more scary than a Georgetown Bulldog. What? A bulldog, you say? Aren't they the Hoyas? Yeah, they are. It's about time G-Town gets called out for that. What the hell is a Hoya, anyway? Technically, the name "Hoya" means "what" or "such" in ancient Greek and ... this is ridiculous. Their mascot should just be a giant question mark.

First Round
1 North Carolina def. 16 Mount St. Mary's
9 Arkansas def. 8 Indiana
5 Notre Dame def. 12 George Mason
4 Washington State def. 13 Winthrop
6 Oklahoma def. 11 Saint Joseph's
14 Boise State def. 3 Louisville
10 South Alabama def. 7 Butler
15 American def. 2 Tennessee

Second Round
9 Arkansas def 1 North Carolina
4 Washington State def. 5 Notre Dame
6 Oklahoma def. 14 Boise State
10 South Alabama def. 15 American

Round of 16
4 Washington State def. 9 Arkansas
6 Oklahoma def. 10 South Alabama

Regional Final
4 Washington State def. 6 Oklahoma

First Round
16 Portland State def. 1 Kansas
8 UNLV def. 9 Kent State
12 Villanova def. 5 Clemson
4 Vanderbilt def. 13 Siena
11 Kansas State def. 5 USC
3 Wisconsin def. 14 Cal State Fullerton
10 Davidson def. 7 Gonzaga
2 Georgetown def. 15 UMBC

Second Round
8 UNLV def. 16 Portland State
12 Villanova def. 4 Vanderbilt
3 Wisconsin def. 11 Kansas State
10 Davidson def. 2 Georgetown

Round of 16
8 UNLV def. 12 Villanova
3 Wisconsin def. 10 Davidson

Regional Final
3 Wisconsin def. 8 UNLV

First Round
1 Memphis def. 16 Texas-Arlington
8 Mississippi State def. 8 Oregon
5 Michigan State def. 12 Temple
4 Pittsburgh def. 12 Oral Roberts
11 Kentucky def. 6 Marquette
14 Cornell def. 3 Stanford
7 Miami (Fla.) def. 10 Saint Mary's
2 Texas def. 15 Austin Peay

Second Round
1 Memphis def. 8 Mississippi State
5 Michigan State def. 4 Pittsburgh
11 Kentucky def. 14 Cornell
7 Miami (Fla.) def. 2 Texas

Round of 16
5 Michigan State def. 1 Memphis
11 Kentucky def. 7 Miami (Fla.)

Regional Final
5 Michigan State def. 11 Kentucky

First Round
16 Mississippi Valley State def. 1 UCLA
8 BYU def. 9 Texas A&M
12 Western Kentucky def. 5 Drake
4 Connecticut def. 13 San Diego
6 Purdue def. 11 Baylor
3 Xavier def. 14 Georgia
7 West Virginia def. 10 Arizona
2 Duke def. 15 Belmont

Second Round
16 Mississippi Valley State def. 8 BYU
12 Western Kentucky def. 4 Connecticut
3 Xavier def. 6 Purdue
7 West Virginia def. 2 Duke

Round of 16
16 Mississippi Valley State def. 12 Western Kentucky
7 West Virginia def. 3 Xavier

Regional Final
7 West Virginia def. 16 Mississippi Valley State

7 West Virginia def. 5 Michigan State
3 Wisconsin def. 4 Washington State

CHAMPIONSHIP: 7 West Virginia def. 3 Wisconsin



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