The first round is in the books in the best college basketball team nickname bracket, and it was all about the chalk. Only five total lower seeds won in the 32 first-round matchups, two of them No. 9s beating No. 8s. I’ll take that as a compliment for my seeding.
There was one huge upset though, way down in the lower right corner. The 15th-seeded Thunderbirds took out the second-seeded Vandals in the Formidable & Scary Region. Look out for Southern Utah. Nothing to lose now. (Click here for a full-size version of the updated bracket.)
Time for Round 2, and once again we’ll start in the Friendly & Funny Region.
It was 100 percent chalk in this quarter of the bracket in the first round. Here were the results.
On to the next. Voting is now open for the second round and will continue through Sunday. Voting for the other regions will open in the coming days this week.
No. 1 Fighting Camels vs. No. 8 Chanticleers
Our tournament’s No. 1 overall seed is the Fighting Camels, used exclusively by Campbell. The name’s origin is somewhat mysterious, as there aren’t a lot of camel species native to North Carolina, but who cares? It’s perfect. Sometimes the addition of “Fighting” before a team name feels forced, but it’s a critical distinction here. The Camels are looking mighty tough after waxing the Longhorns.
The Chanticleers are named for a character in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That’s about the last place you’d expect to find source material for a college sports team name. But, as the university points out, it is a “proud and fierce rooster who dominates the barnyard.”
No. 5 Anteaters vs. No. 4 Jackrabbits
UC Irvine is the Anteaters because some water polo bros in the ’60s thought it sounded cool. Fifty-some years later, vindication comes in the form of a No. 5 seed in this bracket.
One of the prevailing theories about the origin of South Dakota State’s unique name involves a game against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, the first-round opponent the Jackrabbits vanquished. Can they keep the train rolling?
No. 3 Fightin’ Blue Hens vs. No. 6 Roadrunners
Many will shout that Delaware got a poor seed here, and they could be right. This name is beautiful. Hens by itself would be a strong contender. The gratuitous color designation makes them that much more intriguing. To top it off, they’re fightin’. If you’re putting a “g” instead of an apostrophe on the end of that, you’re doing it wrong. If it’s still not cool enough for you, I should tell you that the name’s origins go back to Revolutionary War times.
Both UT San Antonio and CSU Bakersfield sport the nickname of Roadrunners, one of our few two-school entries in the tournament. Anyone who watched cartoons as a kid knows the common connection to the fast-running bird.
No. 7 Ospreys vs. No. 2 Kangaroos
If you want to name your school for a bird of prey, go big or go home. North Florida’s Ospreys are the No. 7 seed here on the strength of a name you won’t soon forget.
If this contest involved Australia’s universities, perhaps Kangaroos would be the new Wildcats. Here in America, it’s one-of-a-kind. How did a school in Kansas City end up naming itself after the most iconic animal Down Under? It’s a complicated story.