By Billy Moy @william_moy6 on March 17, 2014
Who doesn't love a great mascot? I took a look at the 15 most awesome mascots in this years NCAA tournament. I'm ranking mascots here, so obviously this list is 100 percent opinion-based and the mascots who made the cut were picked for a variety of different reasons. I believe there is no debate as to who is No. 1; from No. 2 on though, the discussion is wide open.
Pistol Pete has been the mascot for the Oklahoma State Cowboys since 1923 (but not officially until 1956). Every year students try out for the role of Pistol Pete by interviewing in front of a panel of former Pistol Pete's.
The Cavalier has been the University of Virginia's mascot since 1963. They became known as the Cavaliers because the area was once known as a hotbed of people loyal to the English crown, who were referred to as Cavaliers.
Bucky Badger as we know him as been around since 1988 but Wisconsin has been known as the Badgers for much longer then that. In 1940, the school attempted to use a real badger as its mascot but the animal was too tough to tame on the sidelines so they retired him to a local farm. After that, the school replaced the badger with a raccoon named Regdab (badger spelled backwards) who was eventually replaced with Bucky.
Rodney the Ram replaced the Green Devil as Virginia Commonwealth's mascot in 1963.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "so ugly it's cute"? Using similar logic, the Stanford Tree is so stupid it's awesome. Yes, there is a story behind why they chose the tree, but when the average fan sees it they often find themselves scratching their heads. I don't know why a school nicknamed the Cardinals would settle on a tree, but the lack of logic behind it all is a big reason why I think it's awesome.
The Oregon Duck scores a ton of bonus points because it's actually based off of Disney's Donald Duck (the school gained licensing privileges from Walt Disney himself). Donald Duck first appeared on Oregon sidelines in the 1940s but the school has been known as both the Ducks and the Webfoots dating back to the 1800s.
Rameses has been the North Carolina Tar Heels' mascot since 1924. There are two versions of Rameses roaming around UNC's campus. The first is a member of the UNC Cheerleading team who wears a costume and the second is a live Horned Dorset Sheep, named Rameses of course, who attends UNC football games with his horns painted Carolina Blue.
The Gator has been the University of Florida's mascot since 1957 but they've been known as the Gators since 1911. From 1957-1970, they actually used a live alligator but in 1970, it was replaced with the Albert Gator we see today.
UCLA has been known as the Bruins' mascot dating back to the early 1900s. From 1924 until the 1960s, they used live bears as their Mascot. In the mid-60s, they quit using live bears and adapted the Joe Bruin costume that we see today.
Brutus Buckeye has been Ohio State's mascot since 1967 and his head represents an Ohio Buckeye nut.
The Blue Devil has been Duke University's mascot since the 1920s, and they got the idea from courageous French soldiers in WWI who were nicknamed the Blue Devils.
The University of Kansas has been known as the Jayhawks since the 1800s. The Big Jay that we see today originated in 1946 and Baby Jay was born in 1971, hatching out of a huge head at mid-field during Kansas' homecoming football game.
Sparty has been Michigan State's mascot since 1989 but the school has been known as the Spartans since 1925. It is based off the ancient Greek Spartan warriors.
Otto the Orange was officially named Syracuse University's mascot in 1995 but he first appeared in 1980. The school was once known as the Satine Warriors but thankfully, they got rid of that awful name in 1978.
The St. Joseph's hawk is the best mascot in all of college basketball. The Hawk has been around since 1956 and it represents the school's motto, "The Hawk will never die." The Hawk must attend every single game (home and away) and it cannot stop flapping its wings during the game; ESPN once estimated that the Hawk flaps its wings roughly 3,500 times per game.
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