By Michael Klopman
There are various ways to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Picking teams based on your favorite team nickname/mascot is certainly one method that's as viable as any other.
So, now that this year's bracket has been released, let's play the name game.
68. Duke BLUE DEVILS. The devil isn't blue. This is a well-known fact. Unless someone from the university gives a Billy Madison-esque explanation, which hasn't happened yet as far as I know, then this nickname will always be ranked last. Plus, few people who didn't actually go to the school like Duke.
The following can all be categorized under the "unoriginals." If your nickname doesn't solely belong to your team, then you just don't get to be ranked that high. But at least you beat Duke!
67. Kentucky WILDCATS
66. Villanova WILDCATS
65. Kansas State WILDCATS
64. Arizona WILDCATS
63. Northwestern WILDCATS. Congrats, Northwestern. You're the coolest of all the 'Cats.
62. N.C. Central EAGLES
61. Winthrop EAGLES
60. FGCU EAGLES. Florida Gulf Coast gave us some memorable tournament dunks from a couple years ago. Maybe the university should just change its official nickname to Dunk City and let us all be happy.
59. Iona GAELS
58. St. Mary's GAELS
57. Princeton TIGERS
56. Texas Southern TIGERS
55. West Virginia MOUNTAINEERS
54. Mount St. Mary's MOUNTAINEERS
53. VCU RAMS
52. Rhode Island RAMS
51. USC TROJANS
50. Troy TROJANS
49. UC Davis AGGIES
48. New Mexico State AGGIES
47. Gonzaga BULLDOGS
46. Butler BULLDOGS
45. South Carolina GAMECOCKS
44. Jacksonville State GAMECOCKS. Did NOT think there would two Gamecocks, Aggies and Trojans.
43. Notre Dame FIGHTING IRISH
42. North Dakota FIGHTING HAWKS. It's always smart to include "Fighting" in the nickname, rather than, say, "Capitulating."
This next group goes to those teams that have the same nicknames as some teams in professional sports.
41. Oklahoma State COWBOYS
40. Louisville CARDINALS
39. Creighton BLUEJAYS
38. Seton Hall PIRATES
37. Dayton FLYERS
36. Baylor BEARS
35. ETSU BUCCANEERS
34. UNC Wilmington SEAHAWKS
33. Virginia CAVALIERS
32. UCLA BRUINS
31. Oregon DUCKS. All we're saying is this duck seems nice and fun to be around.
Now, some points for originality.
30. Middle Tennessee BLUE RAIDERS. Kinda like the other Raiders, but -- you know -- blue.
29. Florida State SEMINOLES. Just, please, stop with that chant. Or at least cut down on it. Please.
28. Providence FRIARS.
27. New Orleans PRIVATEERS. Their mascot is basically a pirate, but with a private twist. Sounds mysterious.
26. Xavier MUSKETEERS.
25. Vanderbilt COMMODORES. They're a brick ... houssse. They're mighty mighty, just letting it all hang out.
24. Purdue BOILERMAKERS.
23. Wake Forest DEMON DEACONS. The dude rides a motorcycle. That is fantastic.
Let's run through some of the animal nicknames that we have left.
22. Arkansas RAZORBACKS. The mascot sounds like a dinosaur, but it's actually an aggressive hog. Kind of a bummer.
21. Bucknell BISON. For fans of the "Oregon Trail."
20. Maryland TERRAPINS. They have a good phrase with "Fear the turtle," despite the fact that turtles don't tend to spark much fear.
19. Virginia Tech HOKIES. If your nickname is based on a bird, it better be jacked.
18. Florida GATORS. May not be champs, but can always be Chomps.
17. Wisconsin BADGERS. It's always nice when your mascot is this well-dressed.
16. Cincinnati BEARCATS. Two for one.
15. Nevada WOLF PACK. Blood brothers!
Putting "golden" in your name may sound a little arrogant, but it somehow works, especially when it's to put some luster on an otherwise ordinary moniker.
14. Minnesota GOLDEN GOPHERS
13. Marquette GOLDEN EAGLES
12. Kent State GOLDEN FLASHES
11. Kansas JAYHAWKS. It brings a great chant with it.
10. Michigan State SPARTANS. We're also down with Sparty.
9. Miami HURRICANES.
8. Iowa State CYCLONES. Natural disasters are scary.
7. Vermont CATAMOUNTS. They could have gone with the more generic cougar mascot. But they didn't. Respect.
6. SMU MUSTANGS.
5. North Carolina TAR HEELS. Just a classic.
4. Wichita State SHOCKERS. All hail head coach Gregg Marshall for putting this team on the map.
3. South Dakota State JACKRABBITS
2. Northern Kentucky NORSE. We have all week to have fun with this one. Let's hope they're not Thor losers.
1. Michigan WOLVERINES. Hey, you don't mess with this guy.