Written by Ian Gillen
The sun is out, brackets are being filled, and classes are being skipped again because it’s that very special time of year when team’s go dancing, and March gets a little mad. Teams from the Anteaters to Billikens will be dancing this year with the hope of bringing home a Championship. After your bracket gets busted, check out this guide to some of the craziest mascots still dancing, so that at least you can get something right in these sad busted-bracket times.
The clear winner of Craziest Mascot of the Year goes to Saint Louis University. The Atlantic 10 champions have a Billiken roaming the court and cheering them on. What is a Billiken? I’m glad you asked. A Billiken is thought to be a good luck charm which was brought into existence when an art teacher had a dream with this bizarre figure in it. She drew what she saw, and soon enough Billikens started to fly off shelves after she sold the image and the good luck dolls started to be made. How did this become attributed to St Louis though? Another good question! Legend has it that a football coach once bore a great resemblance to a Billiken and they came to be called “Bendar’s Billikens”. The poor coach. If you have not already googled it, the Billiken is not exactly the prettiest mascot, so renaming your team based on the ugliness of your coach is pretty harsh.
Aside from the ugly nightmare that is the Billiken, the tournament is host to several Wildcats, a few Devils, an Aggie or two, and a pair of Gaels. Iona and Saint Mary’s take the form of the Irish and Scotsmen, and I would love to see the Gael Final Four matchup. My dream Championship, however, is between the UC Irvine Anteaters and the Catamounts of Vermont. The commentary alone would be reason enough to watch, though I am not getting excited about the potential of the matchup.
Minnesota took home the Get it Together Award for having a mascot that doesn’t exist. Yes, the Golden Gophers play in the Gopher state, and I understand they sometimes wear gold, but there just is no such thing as a golden gopher. If the Golden Eagles of Marquette use a real golden animal, and Saint Louis can find a way to make use of a Billiken, then Minnesota should be able to find a way.
Whether you are a Racer, part of a Wolf Pack, or a humble Volunteer we wish you luck in your quest for a perfect bracket and hope this brought some joy if you’ve already given up.