When it comes to team nicknames, professional sports have nothing on college athletics. The Boilermakers. The Jackrabbits. The Banana Slugs. Drawing on regional traditions and odd local animals, colleges in every state across our great land have at least one school with a colorful nickname.
Which got me thinking: What if you filled out a bracket based entirely on nicknames? Who would win then? Although none of the aforementioned teams squeaked into the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, smaller schools are almost always the ones with the cooler team name. However, with the Wichita State Shockers securing a No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament, the field is wide-open from top to bottom.
Here was my criteria:
1. This list is based on nicknames, not mascots. The mascot might be the same as the nickname, but not always.
2. Mascots do, however, factor into the pick, along with logo design and originality.
3. An imaginary battle between the two nicknames settles ties.
4. I tried to leave out biases against the University and/ or the animal in the nickname.
5. That didn’t always work.
All matchups are based on the official 2014 March Madness bracket; teams were not reseeded. For clarity, we’ll go through each region one at a time until we get our Final Four. I refuse to acknowledge play-in games, therefore the round of 64 will be referred to as “Round 1,” as it should be elsewhere. Finally, even though this list is definitive and objectively correct, feel free to use the comments if you have any dissent.