One the most awesome things of the NCAA basketball tournament is that it provides you the opportunity to see schools you otherwise wouldn't see. Sometimes, those schools have some fairly interesting mascots.
Yes, there are plenty of Wildcats and Tigers and Bulldogs out there, and there's nothing wrong with that. Heck, I'm a Wildcat alma mater myself. But seeing something special as a mascot is just, well, special.
So, your friendly OregonBeast has gleaned the ranks of both the men's and women's tourney brackets in pursuit of the more interesting mascots of the tournament (that aren't always there, sorry North Carolina).
Great Danes (University at Albany): Team Dog, rejoice! While pooch-related mascots are popular, indeed you'll find many Bulldogs all over the place, Albany shows some love for a bigger breed. Now, there is also a Terrier in the postseason (Wofford), but that's not really a specific breed, unless of course you're referring the Terriers of Boston University. But Boston U is a hockey school and isn't in the basketball tourney this year. You'll have to wait until the Frozen Four.
Chanticleers (Coastal Carolina University): CCU wants to show they aren't a bunch of chickens in the tourney this year, even though their mascot is, in fact, a type of chicken, the chanticleer. Up until the 1960's, Coastal Carolina's teams were called the Trojans (the school was also a community college at the time, not a four-year university). Then, the school became affiliated with the University of South Carolina and decided to get a new mascot more in line with their parent school (the Gamecocks). They decided on the name of the proud rooster from the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer. Everybody's chickens, everybody's happy.
Fightin' Blue Hens (University of Delaware): MOAR CHICKENS. In this case, the Blue Hen of Delaware. It also traces it's origins to the Revolutionary War and cockfighting: A company of soldiers from Delaware was under the command of a colonel who had a reputation of raising strong fighting roosters, in particular a breed called the Kent County Blue Hen. The soldiers themselves developed quite the fighting reputation, thus cementing the connection between Delaware and Blue Hens.
Friars (Providence College): There are a lot of Catholic schools with strong basketball programs. But rather than go for you generic Saints or Crusaders or whatnot, Providence went specific with the Friar. Thus meriting a position on this list. Although, honestly, the at-the-game mascot looks a little creepy to me.
Billikens (Saint Louis University): Almost skipped them since Saint Louis regularly makes the tournament, but it's just so out there I had to do it. And what the hell is a Billiken, anyways? It's a good-luck figure of some sort, but where exactly is started is up for debate. This article from SLU talks about the Billiken's many possible origins.
Shockers (Wichita State University): OK, hurry up and get the sex joke out of the way. Done? OK, good. Considering they are 34-0 and ranked second in the nation in the polls, Wichita's men (the women are also in their tournament) are the team on this list with the best odds to win it all. As the logo (that fellow you see is known as WuShock, for the record) indicates, it has to do with the wheat-growing aspect of their home state of Kansas. Many early students at the school earned money by harvesting, or shocking, wheat. The school's team became called the Wheatshockers, which was eventually shortened to Shockers.
Mocs (Chattanooga): This name came about as a part of the effort to move away from Native America mascots. Chattanooga was previously known as the Moccasins. While it is possible the term actually originated in reference to the water mocccasin snake, it had been altered over the years to reference Native American footwear. In 1996, the school decide to shorten the name to Mocs and drop Native American imagery in exchange for locomotives, referencing Chattanooga's history as a railroad hub and the famous song "Chattanooga Choo-Choo".
BONUS: Jaspers (Manhattan College): Almost forgot this one! This is an interesting one because Manhattan takes their nickname from a specific individual. That person is Brother Jasper of Mary, a priest who was a native of County Kilkenny in Ireland. He became prefect of students at Manhattan in 1861, where he also became the school's first athletic director and started the schools' baseball team. Legend has it the Brother Jasper was the creator of a well-known baseball tradition: The seventh-inning stretch.
So, that's why I've got. What's your favorite mascot in the Big Dances this season?