MBB: The ‘science’ of Mascotology

Stephen Buszka

Before getting into this week’s predictions, we have a few quick side notes. First, in last Friday’s edition of USA Today, there was a graphic depicting America’s most commonly owned pets. “Reptiles” were on the list, represented by a frog silhouette. Mascotology knows better than that: frogs are amphibians, not reptiles. Also, does Patrick Ewing, Jr. take offense to the fact some people herald Greg Oden as the next Patrick Ewing? If not, he should. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Mascotology.

No. 1 Florida’s loss to Vanderbilt was the highlight of last week. The humanoid Commodores defeated the reptilian Gators by 13 points. This reaffirms one of the most basic principles of Mascotology: humans beat reptiles. Logically, this makes sense. Commodores command a fleet of battleships. There is no way an alligator could defeat a fleet of ships in battle. A look at Florida’s schedule up to now shows similar results. The Florida State Seminoles handed Florida its second loss. Seminoles are known as the “Unconquered People” because they have never signed a formal treaty with the United States, and in the 1920s, they actually wrestled and, presumably, defeated alligators for tourists. Florida’s first loss of the year came to the Kansas Jayhawks. Hawks, everyone knows, are horrible mascots. However, a jayhawk is allegedly a special breed of hawk infused with an uncanny knowledge of basketball rumored to originate on the Main Line.

Two weeks ago, ESPN shoved the notion of rivalry week down the throats of NCAA basketball fans. This week, Mascotology presents its own version of rivalry week.

First up is a Big Five rivalry that goes back several years. Tonight, the Temple University Owls make the long trek from Philadelphia to Philadelphia to take on the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. The rivalry heated up back in 2005 when Temple’s then-coach John Chaney ordered a player to intentionally commit hard fouls against the Hawks players, but it has likely cooled off a tad after Chaney’s retirement. This game is fairly easy to call. An 8 p.m. start is a definite advantage for the nocturnal Owls.

Saturday will feature what is arguably the most heated NCAA Divison I men’s basketball rivalry – no, not Duke-UNC – South Dakota State versus North Dakota State. Tensions will certainly be high when the SDSU Jackrabbits, with quality wins over the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos and the Denver Pioneers, travel to Bison Sports Arena to face the NDSU Bison. The Villanovan’s Mascotology department is unfamiliar with both jackrabbits and bison, so it will revert to the relative size of the creatures (and the fact that SDSU is 5-22) to predict the outcome. Expect the Bison to stomp on the Jackrabbits, giving North Dakotans bragging rights in this fierce and bloodthirsty rivalry that has everyone talking.

The next big rivalry game is Villanova vs. Rutgers. At first glance, it does not seem like much of a rivalry, mostly because the Rutgers basketball program is in a state of disarray. However, the Scarlet Knights are led by Head Coach Fred Hill, a defect from Villanova, where he served as an assistant and associate head coach under Jay Wright. This fact alone may one day escalate the Rutgers-Villanova rivalry to the level of SDSU-NDSU, but only time will tell. For now, however, the Wildcats will look to handily defeat the Scarlet Knights. While the Scarlet Knights are humans, they need to wear armor – which can only mean they are weak and fragile underneath. Wildcats are extremely cunning and can find ways to attack the weak points of the armor. There is no Douby-ousness about the fact that the Knights will take the loss.