March Madness With Adorable Animals: It’s The Sweetest 16

With the second weekend of March Madness about to commence, we thought it would be appropriate to compare the tournament’s schools by another metric: which has the cutest mascot?

As you may have heard, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is currently happening. You’d be surprised at how many of the schools involved have animal mascots; then again, maybe you wouldn’t, because animals are great and way more entertaining than “Musketeers” or “Fighting Irish” or “Hoosiers” or whatever. (Tradition! Ha.)

With such a wealth of competition taking place, we at BuzzFeed Sports thought we’d spin March Madness around slightly. We’re calling it the Sweetest 16, and it’s all about the animals these teams are named after. Because not every team that made the real Sweet 16 has an animal mascot, we goosed the field a bit, sliding some teams into our competition that lost in real life. (We did maintain original regions, though.)

IT’S ON.

2. SOUTH BRACKET GAME 1: Kentucky Wildcats vs. UConn Huskies

ANALYSIS: As cute as those Siberian husky puppies are, that back one looks a little irritated.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS WIN

5. SOUTH BRACKET GAME 2: Baylor Bears vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

ANALYSIS: What big ears you have, little jackrabbit. But still, you can’t touch the waving bear.

BAYLOR BEARS WIN

8. WEST BRACKET GAME 1: Louisville Cardinals vs. Memphis Tigers

ANALYSIS: Oh nothing, just a baby tiger attacking a pumpkin. This pains me, because I love fat birds, but:

MEMPHIS TIGERS WIN

11. WEST BRACKET GAME 2: Colorado State Rams vs. Florida Gators

ANALYSIS: Ram lamb — say that five times fast. Sorry, little girl: gators are intimidating.

COLORADO STATE RAMS WIN

14. MIDWEST BRACKET GAME 1: Creighton Bluejays vs. Ohio Bobcats

ANALYSIS: Great recruiting year for the Bobcats — bringing in a fawn was an inspired move.

OHIO BOBCATS WIN

17. MIDWEST BRACKET GAME 2: North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Kansas Jayhawks

ANALYSIS: So, I can’t really determine if a Jayhawk is a real, actual animal and not just some crazed creation of Kansas, and this picture is too cute not to post. But because it doesn’t exactly play by the rules, I have to disqualify the Jayhawks.

N.C. STATE WOLFPACK WINS

20. EAST BRACKET GAME 1: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

ANALYSIS: This bearcat is my new favorite thing in the world.

CINCINNATI BEARCATS WIN

23. EAST BRACKET GAME 2: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Montana Grizzlies

ANALYSIS: The Grizzlies have it. I like bears.

MONTANA GRIZZLIES WIN

26. SOUTH BRACKET CHAMPIONSHIP: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Baylor Bears

ANALYSIS: The Baylor Bears’ size and hands-up defense isn’t enough to fend off the Wildcats. Kentucky’s our first Final Four selection.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS WIN

29. WEST BRACKET CHAMPIONSHIP: Memphis Tigers vs. Colorado State Rams

ANALYSIS: Distracting the Tigers aggressive offense, the Rams steal the game away in the final seconds to earn a spot against the favored Wildcats.

COLORADO STATE RAMS WIN

32. MIDWEST BRACKET CHAMPIONSHIP: Ohio Bobcats vs. N.C. State Wolfpack

ANALYSIS: Behind the strong play of the fawn, an early favorite for tournament MVP, the Bobcats advance.

OHIO BOBCATS WIN

35. EAST BRACKET CHAMPIONSHIP: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Montana Grizzlies

ANALYSIS: The one-two punch of bears and cats just might be unstoppable. The Bearcats romp into the semifinals.

CINCINNATI BEARCATS WIN

38. FINAL FOUR GAME 1: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Colorado State Rams

ANALYSIS: Wildcats! Check out those ears. WILDCATS ON TO THE FINALS.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS WIN

41. FINAL FOUR GAME 2: Ohio Bobcats vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

ANALYSIS: The tournament’s two hottest teams meet here, and only one can move on. Unfortunately, that means the bobcat/fawn combo goes down, and the bearcats are in the National Championship! (Also, I can’t find any more pictures of the bobcat and the fawn.)

CINCINNATI BEARCATS WIN

44. THE 2012 NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (OF CUTENESS): Kentucky Wildcats vs. Cincinnati Bobcats

46. It’s a bear. It’s a cat. IT’S A BEARCAT. And the Cincinnati Bearcats are your 2012 NCAA Tournament Champion!

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