DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: The Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers mascot and the New Orleans Privateers mascot perform during the First Four game in the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 14, 2017 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

March Madness: Let’s pick NCAA tournament winners by mascot

As mentioned in today’s column, I came up with a pretty chalky result in my first take on this year’s NCAA tournament. 

I am going to look into a few enticing matchups and might revise my picks before submitting final answers, but here’s one that couldn’t wait. 

My annual mascot bracket! 

I figured we might as well have some fun before seeing my real picks start to go down in flames — plus it might be interesting (and/or sad) to see if these picks beat my real ones. 

So, here we go, starting with the South region: 

Virginia in real life is a tough out because Tony Bennett’s team plays great defense. 

In the mascot bracket, the Cavaliers benefit from having a horse and sword to wield against dogs and cats in the early rounds. 

Alas, those are no match for a natural disaster, right? 

Miami marches out of the South region after literally blowing away the competition. 

Also of note: I picked Tennessee over Wright State because the Volunteers have guns, which beat both wolves and viking raiders. 

1/10/07 -- ddn011107wsubbp -- Retiring Rowdy Raider (left) and an earlier Wright State mascot (right) embrace the latest mascot (center) during halftime of the WSU game with Loyola at the Nutter Center. The new mascot was introduced during a halftime celebration. PHOTO BY JAN UNDERWOOD

This region also has my biggest upset of the entire bracket: Georgia State over Cincinnati. 

Sorry, UC fans, but is there any other predator a real bearcat could beat? Certainly not a panther. 

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 29: Cincinnati Bearcats mascot visits with a live bearcat from the Cincinnati Zoo during a timeout in the game against the Temple Owls at Fifth Third Arena on December 29, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Temple defeated Cincinnati 77-70. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The East presents a similar challenge for the No. 1 seed Villanova. 

Could a wildcat really beat a Crimson Tide? Or an elephant for that matter? 

Hard to imagine that, so Alabama moves on to the Sweet 16. 

Marshall’s Thundering Herd is also taking down the Shockers in the first round, but the guns of the West Virginia Mountaineers subdue their rivals in the round of 32. 

I gave the nod to Arkansas over Purdue in the second round on the understanding pigs rule, but the Razorbacks are still going to have a hard time competing with guns. That means Texas Tech is in the Elite Eight, where Alabama washes the Red Raiders away to earn a trip to San Antonio. 

In the Midwest, Kansas gets a pass in found one because the Quakers refuse to fight, but Seton Hall presents big trouble in round two. 

How is a mythical bird going to beat a Pirate? 

Seton Hall should take that one and will find guns a decisive advantage against Tigers — be they from Clemson or Auburn — in the Sweet 16. 

Oklahoma-Rhode Island is a tough call because Rams are mean and resourceful, but again I’m going to assume the Sooners have guns and are willing to cheat to win. 

I initially had Duke coming out of this bracket, but upon learning the Blue Devils are named after a French military unit I immediately assumed they would be at a disadvantage against, well, pretty much everyone. 

That opens the door for Michigan State’s Spartans, who benefit from superior training and a willingness to die for the cause that is enough to overcome more sophisticated weaponry. 

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 21: Sparty, the mascot for the Michigan State Spartans performs against the Valparaiso Crusaders during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 21, 2013 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

That just leaves the West, where again we see the No. 1 seed with a tricky matchup in round two. 

Xavier vs. Florida State: Could a fancy-pantsed French guy with a sword handle a band of proud Native American fighters? In Nashville, no less? 

Not by himself, but this is where the Blue Blob sweeps in to dominate the battlefield and move XU into the Sweet 16. 

That’s as far as Xavier can go, though, because both of its mascots would literally be paralyzed by ingesting Buckeyes in the Sweet 16. 

(This is a big break for Ohio State, by the way, as Native Americans actually ate buckeyes according to the USDA.) 

Ohio State fans will enjoy the bottom of this bracket, too, as there is pretty much no doubt a Michigan Wolverine is not going to have a chance against a Grizzly bear from Montana. 

The poison trump card sends the Buckeyes to the Final Four, where they join a group of humans and two forces of nature.  

The national championship game comes down to a tiebreaker. 

I couldn’t figure out who would win between a massive wave and a hurricane, but after a stalemate ensued the secondary mascots provide an obvious choice. 

Alabama takes home the championship after the elephant stomps the ibis into oblivion. 

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11: The Alabama Crimson Tide mascot Big Al celebrates after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers with a score of 45 to 40. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images