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March Madness 2024 Round of 64: The Mascots

Estrela Consulting March 19, 2024

March Madness

It’s March Madness time! Here at Estrela, we are taking our brackets to the next level. Join us each round to learn something fun about the schools in the tournament!

Disclaimer: Choosing your favorite mascot for your NCAA bracket - or to determine your college choice - is not advised by the Estrela team. For actual bracket (and college list!) making advice, check out 5 tips to create a winning bracket (or college list)

But, for entertainment purposes only, let’s see what mascots are facing each other! For those of you who truly love using the mascot strategy for your bracket, here’s your master list:


UConn vs. Stetson

The University of Connecticut Huskies play the Stetson University Hatters. What is a hatter? A person who makes hats! It’s a homage to John Stetson, the famous hatmaker and founder of SU. 

FAU vs. Northwestern

The Florida Atlantic University Owls will try to swoop in on the Northwestern Wildcats.

San Diego State vs. UAB

The San Diego State University Aztecs face the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers. While UAB has been the Blazers since 1978, they did not have an official physical mascot until 1995 when Blaze, a European dragon, was chosen.

Auburn vs. Yale

The perennial powerhouse Auburn Tigers take on the small but mighty Yale Bulldogs.

BYU vs. Duquesne

The Brigham Young University Cougars are taking on the Duquesne Dukes...who haven’t played in the NCAA tournament in 47 years!.

Illinois vs. Morehead State

The University of Illinois Illini face the Morehead State University Eagles.

Washington State vs. Drake

The Washington State University Cougars are hoping to pounce on the Drake University Bulldogs.

Iowa State vs. South Dakota State

The Iowa State University Cyclones are ready to stir up a storm against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.


North Carolina vs. Wagner or Howard

The Wagner College Seahawks and the Howard University Bison are playing each other in the First Four; the winner will take on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The nickname "Tar Heel" dates back to North Carolina’s early history, when the state was a leading producer of supplies for the naval industry. Workers who distilled turpentine from the sticky sap of pine trees to produce tar and pitch often went barefoot during hot summer months and collected tar on their heels while walking. This "tar heel" eventually became an expression of state pride. While Tar Heels is the UNC nickname, the mascot is actually a ram.

Mississippi State vs. Michigan State

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State University will take on the Michigan State University Spartans.

Saint Mary’s vs. Grand Canyon

The Saint Mary’s College (California) mascot is the Gael, representing a traditional Irish warrior. They will take on the Grand Canyon University Lopes, a nickname for antelopes.

Alabama vs. Charleston

Most people know that the University of Alabama is the Crimson Tide. But where did that come from? In 1907, the rich clay mud on the field stained the white Alabama football jerseys a crimson red. While their name is the Crimson Tide, the physical mascot is an elephant. The elephant was a reference to the massive size of the football lineman in the early 1900's, but wasn't picked up formally until 1979. They face the College of Charleston Cougars. 

Clemson vs. New Mexico

The Clemson University Tigers will take on the University of New Mexico Lobos. Lobo is the Spanish word for wolf.

Baylor vs. Colgate

The Baylor University Bears will come out of hibernation against the Colgate University Raiders.

Dayton vs. Nevada

The University of Dayton are the Flyers, a reference and homage to Daytonians Orville and Wilbur Wright who are credited with inventing the first airplane to take flight. Dayton will attempt to take flight against the University of Nevada Wolfpack.

Long Beach State vs. Arizona

The Long Beach State University Sharks hope to smell blood in the water as they take on the University of Arizona Wildcats. 


Houston vs. Longwood

The University of Houston Cougars are hoping not to get pierced by the 16-seed Longwood University Lancers.

Nebraska vs. Texas A&M

It will be a farming frenzy when the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers clash with the Texas A&M University Aggies. A cornhusker is a person or machine that removes husks from a corncob, while an “Aggie” is a person who works on a farm. The physical mascot for Texas A&M is represented by Reveille X, a Collie.

Wisconsin vs. James Madison

University of Wisconsin Badgers (which is the state animal of Wisconsin!) will go head-to-head with the James Madison Dukes.

Duke vs. Vermont

The Duke Blue Devils will try to avoid an upset against the University of Vermont Catamounts. A catamount is a medium or large sized cat - similar to a cougar - which has been extinct since 2018.

Texas Tech vs. NC State

The Texas Tech University sports teams became the Red Raiders in 1937 because of their football team’s red-on-red jerseys and coast-to-coast schedule. They previously were the Matadors. They will take on the North Carolina State University Wolfpack.

Kentucky vs. Oakland

The University of Kentucky Wildcats and Big Blue Nation (the Kentucky fanbase) will square off against the Oakland University Grizzlies. The Grizzlies name was adopted in 1997 when Oakland moved from Division II to Division I. They were previously the Pioneers.

Florida vs. Colorado or Boise State

The Colorado Buffaloes face the Boise State Broncos in the First Four; the winner will take on the University of Florida Gators. At Colorado football games, Ralphie the Buffalo runs across the field accompanied by a team of student handlers; the student handlers are considered varsity athletes (after all, they have to be able to keep up with a running buffalo)! The basketball court is a bit small for Ralphie to make a live appearance, though.

Marquette vs. Western Kentucky

The Marquette Golden Eagles hope to swoop in on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The physical mascot or more popular nickname “Big Red”, is a very non-descript blob character that looks like something out of Sesame Street. 


Purdue vs. Grambling or Montana State

The Grambling State University Tigers are making their first NCAA tournament appearance in a First Four catfight against the Montana State Bobcats. The winner will face the Purdue University Boilermakers. The Boilermaker moniker was coined in 1891, after Purdue beat Wabash handily in a football game, and the townsfolk called the larger, stronger Purdue players “burly boiler makers.” The name stuck! It is in reference to a type of locomotive that was commonly constructed by Purdue students during that time. Purdue is known for its technical and engineering education and focus. 

Utah State vs. TCU

The Utah State University Aggies play the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The horned lizard is the state reptile of Texas - but they have a rounded appearance and are often mistakenly referred to as “horned frogs.” The Aggies are now represented by Big Blue, a bull, but went through several mascots to get there. In the 1940’s and 50’s, they were the Farmers, represented by an elderly farmer wearing bib overalls. The bull mascot was later introduced along with the nickname Highlanders; the bull stuck while the nickname transformed back to the agricultural roots of Aggies.

Gonzaga vs. McNeese

The Gonzaga University Bulldogs will try to avoid being lassoed by the McNeese State University Cowboys. Many people refer to Gonzaga simply as the Zags - basically as a shortened version of Gonzaga. 

Kansas vs. Samford

The University of Kansas Jayhawks take on the Samford University Bulldogs.

South Carolina vs. Oregon

The South Carolina Gamecocks go beak-to-beak against the University of Oregon Ducks in an epic showdown of feathered mascots.

Creighton vs. Akron

The Creighton University Blue Jays face the University of Akron Zips. What is a Zip? In 1927, a campus-wide contest was conducted to choose a nickname for Akron’s athletic teams. “Zippers” was the winner in homage to a popular rubber overshoe sold by Akron's B.F. Goodrich Co. In 1950 the nickname was shortened to “Zips.” The physical mascot, however, is not a zipper but a kangaroo named Zippy.

Texas vs. Colorado State or Virginia

The Colorado State University Rams play the Virginia Cavaliers (or more commonly called the ‘Hoos) in the First Four. The winner takes on the University of Texas Longhorns. Texas has a live longhorn, Bevo, on the sidelines of football games who is handled by the Silver Spurs student organization. Colorado State also has a live mascot, Cam the Ram, who is cared for by student volunteers called the Ram Handlers. Unfortunately there’s not enough room on the basketball court for us to see Bevo and Cam make an appearance together.

Tennessee vs. Saint Peter’s

Tennesseans were called to be volunteers during the War of 1812 against the British and again during the Mexican American War in 1848. They are now honored by the University of Tennessee Volunteers nickname. While UT is called the Volunteers, the mascot is represented by Smokey the Dog. They face the Saint Peter’s University Peacocks.

Within the world of March Madness mascots, the Bulldogs reign supreme (5 teams!) as the most popular mascot, followed closely by cats (of various types). But, who will survive and advance to the Second Round? Be sure to catch us in the round of 32, where we will showcase some notable alumni!

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Tagged: ncaa, march madness, Alyson Campbell, Jamie Kirby, mascots, basketball

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