After the fun we had with this last year, I figured why not do it again?
Now, some of these are going to be repeats from last year, but we also have some new ones to talk about. You can only have so many Tigers and Bulldogs and Wildcats and Wildcats Who Are Basically Already Pros And Are Even Money To Win The Whole Thing, you know.
So, let's get into it.
Great Danes (University of Albany): This is a team we talked about last year, and I'm leading off with them again not just because they picked a unique breed of dog, but because of an amazing thing that happened this past weekend. The Danes needed a last-second buzzer-beating desperation three-pointer to top the Stony Brook Seawolves in the championship game of the American East Conference tournament and qualify for the NCAA Championship. Hitting that game winning shot was a player named Peter Hooley, who had missed several weeks worth of the season a couple of months ago in order to return to his native Australia to be at his mom's bedside as she died of cancer. It was also the only three-pointer UAlbany made the entire game.
Chanticleers (Coastal Carolina): Also a returning team for last year's list are Geoffrey Chaucer's proud roosters. Quick refresh for those not looking at last year's article: Formerly the Trojans, the school took a new nickname in the 60's that bore some affiliate to then-parent University of South Carolina (they're the Gamecocks, so both colleges use a rooster). We'll add in this tidbit: The name of the chanticleer mascot at CCU games is Chauncey. Because of course it is.
Shockers (Wichita State): Another repeat, although this year the Shockers aren't coming into the tournament undefeated this year. References the act of shocking, or harvesting wheat, which there's a lot of in Kansas. Not in reference to another act your dirty minds are thinking of, which there's likely also a lot of in Kansas, despite the fact their governor would like to pretend it doesn't.
Friars (Providence): Talked about them last year. Don't really have anything interesting to add.
Jaspers (Manhattan): Last of the repeats. The name comes from the school's first athletic director, Brother Jasper of Mary. Brother Jasper was a native of Ireland, which makes it interesting Manhattan College is the location of Gaelic Park, the largest available facility for the Irish sports of hurling and Gaelic football in the United States.
Musketeers (Xavier): Hey, here's one we didn't cover last year. The Cincinnati school has used the name Musketeers since the 1920's. It has a standard Musketeer mascot named D'Artagnan, but also has a second mascot, a blue blobish character named...wait for it...The Blue Blob. Seriously. Google it. It's the love child of Grover from Sesame Street and The Grimace.
Flyers (Dayton): Maybe I'm just trying to start something. The Dayton Flyers take their name from the Wright brothers, who were Dayton natives and built many airplane components in Dayton, which then first flew in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And if you ever want a great argument, get an Ohioan and a North Carolinan arguing over which state should really get credit for the airplane.
Ospreys (North Florida): You see lots of Eagles and Hawks, but not many Ospreys. Well, at least not in that form, since another term for an osprey is a "sea hawk".
Anteaters (UC Irvine): The somewhat different nickname was chosen from a student vote in 1965. A UC campus in the 60's? I'll leave the influences for choosing the anteater to your own imaginations. The mascot is known as Peter the Anteater. The Anteaters will also have the tallest player in the tournament, 7-foot-6(!) center Mamadou Ndiaye.
Leopards (Lafayette): Another student vote result, but in the 1920s. It's believe the decision was made to be the Leopards because other regular opponents like Princeton, Pittsburgh and Bucknell had animal mascots whose first letter corresponded to the first letter of the college's name like Pittsburgh Panthers and Bucknell Bison. So when it came to animals with a L name, Leopards seems a good fit. Imagine if they had wound up the Lafayette Lemurs.
LAST NOTE: This is just from the men's bracket, as the women's bracket has not been chosen yet. I'll try and fit in an update if there's some more to add.