68 teams will participate in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
And all 68 enter with a chance to win it all. It's parity, it's March, and it's beautiful.
What is not so beautiful is the gaggle of silent misfits tagging along behind each team, dancing, clapping and posing for photographs with terrified youngsters. They have dread-inducing names like Crusaders and Blue Raiders and Shockers, and they're invading cities across America.
We call them "mascots," but that word evokes warm memories of kindly bulldog puppies and affable gingers. It's not suitable for the worst of the malformed roleplaying weirdos taking the court this week. No, we need another term for them.
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Let's call these oddities the Nightmare Nine:
The Providence Friars
Should be called: Friar McCreepyface
Good luck sleeping.
Wichita State Shockers
Should be called: Yellow Frankenstein
It's as though Frankenstein and Marge Simpson had a child. And oh, that nose! Better not go there.
Holy Cross Crusaders
Iggy the Crusader
Should be called: Sir Stabby
Game of Thrones fans will be familiar with the massive, hairy, evil Ser Gregor Clegane ('The Mountain'). Iggy doesn’t really remind us of Clegane. Iggy reminds us of what Clegane looked like after he turned into a zombie.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Should be called: Frank the Strangler
So this is literally just a guy with a giant purple ax. You say there's nothing creepy about that, but if you saw him walking toward you on the sidewalk you'd be singing a different tune. A tune that sounds a lot like someone dialing 911. Also, I don't trust that haircut.
Oregon State Beavers
Should be called: Nibblin' Benny
It's the eyes. This Beaver has a taste for human flesh.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Lightning (a blue winged horse)
Should be called: Death
"He's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye." Remember the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? This is the horse.
Weber State Wildcats
Waldo the Wildcat
Should be called: Rosemary's Cat
Some cats are sweet, and purr when you pet them. Waldo wants to eat your face.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Should be called: Who would even remember his name? He’s got a dead raccoon on his head!
It's not so much the Mountain Man himself, or his 1860s hipster attire, as it is the dead raccoon on his head. Think of all the dead raccoon flavored sweat this guy swallows during the summer.
Should be called: A suspect in cold cases near Purdue's campus
“That's a big hammer. His eyes are kind of wild, right? And what's with that expression? He looks angry. Shh. He’s getting closer. Did we do a background check on this guy?” -Last words of the guy in charge of casting mascots at Purdue