The best teams in men’s and women’s basketball are gearing up for March Madness, but we’ve already narrowed our choices to the Sweet 16 — our 16 favorite animal mascots, that is! While not all of these furry cheerleaders will get a chance to rally support for their team in this year’s tournament (and, in fact, many will never trade the football field for a basketball court), they’ll all get you cheering. Or at least ooh-ing and aah-ing.
Blue III, Butler University
We're sorry that Butler University's Bulldogs won't be playing in this
year's men's NCAA tournament because Blue III is, hands down, our
favorite mascot. While this cutie isn't the official Butler University
mascot yet, Blue III (his real name is Trip), an English Bulldog puppy, is being mentored by the current Butler mascot, Blue II, and will assume official mascot duties when Blue II retires.
The mascot-in-training is not only an adorable furry cheerleader, he is
quite Internet- and social-media-savvy. You can keep track of Blue
III’s courtside celebrating and what he’s learning in puppy class on his
website, Twitter,webcam and Foursquare.
Mike, Louisiana State University
LSU fans have a truly regal and fierce, not to mention adorable, mascot: a Bengal tiger. When Mike VI isn’t roaring through Tiger Stadium, you can find him in his 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art habitat on the Louisiana State University
campus. However, he will not be accompanying the LSU players to their
games — he'll be cheering them on from Baton Rouge. Geaux Tigers!
Jack, Georgetown University
Georgetown University's mascot is Jack the Bulldog.
The first Jack, an English Bulldog, was purchased by students in 1964;
he was meant to be called Hoya (after the school's rallying cry of "Hoya
Saxa!"), but refused to respond to any name but Jack. The current
Jack’s favorite pastimes include tearing up cardboard boxes (usually
painted with the opposing team’s colors) and riding in golf carts.
Ralphie, University of Colorado
You won’t see Ralphie the Buffalo shooting hoops with the Colorado
men’s basketball team (his size gives him an unfair advantage and his
hoofs would do a number on the court), but there’s no doubt that the University of Colorado’s
handsome (and a little intimidating) mascot is a truly amazing sight to
see. And we all know that a big mascot means big spirit!
Dubs, The University of Washington
The University of Washington’s furry mascot is an Alaskan Malamute named Dubs. According to his weekly blog, the four-legged fur ball “loves being a dawg.” Who doesn't?
Boomer and Sooner, The University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma
Sooner Schooner is a Conestoga wagon pulled by two gorgeous white
ponies, Boomer and Sooner, who race across Owen Field after every OU
touchdown. We wish these stunning horses could make a basketball debut
during March Madness, but alas, those hooves just aren't
hard-court-friendly, and their rig is a little large for a basketball
Blitz II, Wofford College
2010 marked the Wofford College
Terriers' first appearance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and
we've got our fingers crossed that they — and their mascot, Blitz II,
will be back this year. When this peppy Boston Terrier isn’t working her mascot gig, you can call her by her real name, Ayeryel.
Bevo, The University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas
mascot, a Longhorn named Bevo, is central to the school's "Hook 'Em,
Horns" enthusiasm. The current Bevo is the fourteenth Longorn to
represent the school; in January 2005, he attended the second
inauguration of President George W. Bush. Unfortunately, he will not be
following the Longhorns to the Big Dance. Again, it's the hooves. Sorry,
Smokey, University of Tennessee
Smokey IX is the handsome Bluetick Coonhound mascot for the University of Tennessee
Volunteers. With his dashing cape, this spirited pooch brings lots of
Vols spirit to home games. This year, we'll be looking for Smokey at the
women's NCAA tournament along with legendary coach Pat Summitt, who has
led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships.
Russ, The University of Georgia
After The University of Georgia's
Uga VIII passed away early last year, Russ the Bulldog came to the
rescue and assumed interim mascot duties. The university is now
selecting a new permanent mascot to follow in the lineage of pure white English Bulldogs, but we hope Russ gets to stick around for a while!
Joy and Lady, Baylor University
Clocking in at a combined weight of more than 600 pounds, these two
North American Black Bears definitely tip the awesome mascot scales. Joy
and Lady are biological sisters named for the wives of two Baylor University presidents, and they reside in a bear habitat next to Baylor's student center. High-five, ladies!
Reveille VIII, Texas A&M University
This full-blooded Collie revels in her rank as top dog at Texas A&M University.
If she wants to sleep on a cadet's bed, the cadet is ordered to sleep
on the floor. Cadets also must address the pooch as "Miss Rev, ma'am."
Each Reveille is given a formal military funeral and buried facing the
scoreboard, so she can watch her football team outscore the visitors. We
think Reveille — er, we mean, Miss Rev, ma'am — is just adorable!
Peruna, Southern Methodist University
Is there anything more exciting than a horse galloping across the
football field every time you score a touchdown? We didn't think so.
Peruna IX, a black stallion Shetland pony, took the reigns of Southern Methodist University's mascot duties in October, and we think this darling is doing a great job!
Bully, Mississippi State University
Another member of the Bulldog mascot club, Mississippi State University's
Bully was frequently the target of prankster kidnappers from rival
teams. He has better security these days; there hasn't been a kidnapping
attempt since 1974. The current Bully's real name is Champ; when he's
not cheering his team to victory, he lives at the university's College
of Veterinary Medicine.
Rameses XVIII, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Since he was introduced to the campus at a pep rally in 1924, Rameses
the Ram has always sported a monogrammed blanket on his back. Sadly,
Rameses XVIII passed away last month, but the Hogan family — who has
raised the official Rameses for almost a century — decided that Rameses
XVIII's adorable son, BamBam, will become UNC's mascot next season.
Jonathan, University of Connecticut
Named after Connecticut's Revolutionary War–era governor, Jonathan Trumbull, UConn's white Siberian Husky
mascot, cheers in style. Just look at those blue booties! He's better
dressed than the cheerleaders. Jonathan will be busy for the next few
weekends keeping up with UConn's women's basketball team as they charge
through the tournament.