Depending on when you’re reading this, today might be St. Patrick’s Day, so top o’ the morning, afternoon or evening to you, and we guess if you’ve recovered from the parade you might as well tee up another one for the occasion. If anyone gives you any blarney about over-celebrating, you can always claim it has nothing to do with St. Paddy’s day, it’s because you’re recovering from two hours of exposure to Ben & Lauren and JoJo, not to mention the after-Bachelor post-mortem, and you’re realizing that to erase the horror of this memory you’ll need either electro-convulsive therapy or extremely heavy drinking. As if that’s not enough, you’ll want to be suitably inspired and motivated to cheer on our Pitt Panthers against the loathsome and repugnant Wisconsin Badgers. That’s right, it’s time once again for March Madness, the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
This game got us to thinking about mascots – we’re not known for our depth of thought – and it seems pretty obvious to us that even though Pitt is a higher seed (lower seeds are considered better teams), and it’s generally pretty difficult to teach wild animals to play human sports, a Panther is clearly much better suited to the game of basketball than a Badger. I mean, if you put a leg of lamb up there on the backboard alongside the ball, a panther could totally dunk. And what are a badger’s chances of getting a jump ball? Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, that’s what. On the other hand, a badger might be good at arguing with the refs. In every courtroom drama we ever saw, one of the lawyers would jump up and shout “Objection! Counsel is badgering the witness!” We were never sure what that meant, but it sounded pretty serious. If the badgers managed to argue their way into getting a lot of fouls called on the panthers, it could spell trouble for our lads.
Then there are the West Virginia Mountaineers, whose mascot is widely considered to be a human being. They have had a really good season that resulted in them being named a #3 seed. They’ll be playing the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, also human, a #14 seed. This means the ‘Eers should roll, but we don’t think they should be too cocky. About 20 years ago we were on the same plane as the Mountaineer himself (he was a Junior Econ major) on a flight back from the Pitt-BC football game. In those days they actually let the Mountaineer bring his prop musket aboard the plane. Post 9-11, that’s just not gonna happen. And what if the Mountaineer is somehow deprived of his shootin ‘arn but the Lumberjack manages to smuggle his ax through security? Could be trouble. Also, Don Henley of the Eagles is SF Austin’s most famous alumnus, and what if he convinces the Mountaineers to “take it easy” on their devastating full court press? There’ll be a heartache that night along with some flaming sofas.
But the real dustup will come if #6 seed Notre Dame gets past the #11 seed and squares off with West Virginia in the second round. The Fighting Irish vs. the Mountaineers on the weekend after St. Paddy’s Day? That could be epic. Toss off a couple cold ones at halftime and thank your lucky stars you don’t have to listen to Lauren’s “verbal fry” for the rest of your days like that idiot Ben. Brent Musberger on helium would be an improvement.
What about the so-called class of the field? The overall #1 team is the Kansas Jayhawks. We were never that impressed with bird-of-prey mascots. Really, how terrifying are they unless you happen to be a chipmunk? Then there are the North Carolina Tar Heels. Fellows, you’re going to have to scrape that off your shoes before we let you in the gym. And the Oregon Ducks. Right, a duck is going to play basketball. Careful, Daffy, that Jayhawk looks hungry.
Finally, there are the Virginia Cavaliers. Kind of a lah-di-dah mascot name, but we have inside information that will reveal why we think they’re the favorite. It comes straight from an alumna who disclosed that UVA students refer to each other not as Cavaliers but as “wahoos.” A wahoo is a mythical fish whose most noteworthy characteristic is that it can drink twice it’s body weight and then sink to the bottom of the ocean. What’s even more amazing is that it does this each year right after the finale of “The Bachelor.”
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