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Need a Backup Team? I’m Here to Help

March 21, 2013
Kentucky Wildcats

With Kentucky not in this year’s NCAA Tournament field, Wildcats fans are left looking for options.

I generally detest all forms of sports bigamy. I grew up before ESPN and before cable, so you didn’t get to (have to) watch every Yankees game on ESPN, so you liked the team that was closest to you. Well, you didn’t like that team; you LOVED that team and despised all others. That works better for pro sports than college sports it seems. With colleges, you can end up liking a number of teams from your area. You can like teams from different conferences that will almost never play each other. You can like teams that are on different levels. So it is that I have become a Kentucky Wildcats fan AND a Xavier Musketeers fan.

Unfortunately, when the NCAA Tournament opens later today, NEITHER of those teams will be in it. So, I have had to pick a back-up team.

Maybe you are a Kentucky fan or your team is just always bad. Sure you fill out your brackets and obsess over every game, but sometimes it’s nice to have ONE team that you latch onto and live and die with.

In case you’d like to do that and just don’t know where to start, never fear, I have given the remaining 64 teams a thorough going-over and I present you here with all of your options.

If you’re a Kentucky fan and aren’t interested in trying to learn a new nickname on short notice, there are four teams in the field to help you out. Arizona, Villanova, Kansas State and Davidson all have Wildcats as their mascots. Davidson is also a low seed that could win a game or two, so you could have the added bonus of rooting for a Wildcats team AND being an underdog hipster if they win.

Do you already have a bunch of blue clothing and don’t want to go out and buy something new to wear for three weeks (or less) while you follow your new adopted team? That’s easy too. There are 26 teams that have some form of blue in their team colors. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits actually use the exact same shade of blue as Kentucky (PMS 286 for you graphics people), so all of your current blue clothes will look ok. The next closest blues (PMS 287) belong to Duke, Florida and St. Louis. And since rooting for Duke and Florida are unacceptable to UK fans, you can back the Billikens and still look like you meant to.

Do you think you don’t have time to learn a new cheer? Well, Wildcats fans, you’re still in luck. Michigan uses the Go Big Blue cheer, so you can jump on their bandwagon, although you will need to go buy different colored clothes.

Maybe the best blue to back is that of Florida Gulf Coast. Their colors are Cobalt Blue and Emerald Green, which signify the colors of the earth and the sea. And given how cold it still is here, who isn’t thinking about sitting near the ocean right now?

Florida Gulf Coast

THIS is on the Florida Gulf Coast campus. I had trouble remembering what buildings my classes were in. Here, I would have never known there were buildings

FGCU also works if you’re a hippie trying to enjoy the Tournament while not giving into “the man,” or animal oppression, or factory farming or whatever. The colors were picked to be in line with the school’s environmental mission.

If you don’t have a team and just like colors that’s all two teams have for nicknames. You could back the Syracuse Orange (which also uses blue as an unofficial color for trim) or the Harvard Crimson.

Are you one of the seemingly millions of animal lovers who posts every picture of an animal you see on Facebook? Well, there’s plenty here to love in addition to the Wildcats. For example, my mom has always loved tigers. She has two options – Missouri and Memphis — in the field.

There are four bears in the Tournament if you count Bears (Cal), Grizzlies (Montana) and Bruins (UCLA and Belmont). There are also four Bulldogs, if you count Georgetown and North Carolina A&T who use bulldogs as mascots to go with different nicknames (Hoyas and Aggies, respectively), along with Gonzaga and Butler. Dog lovers who don’t love bulldogs can also go with the Albany Great Danes.

A lot of people love wolves and with all the sweet wolf T-shirts out there, who wouldn’t. Those folks also have two options in New Mexico (Lobos) and the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

There are also two Eagles with Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast.

If you still haven’t found an animal you can support, your other options are – Badgers, Bearcats, Bison, Bluejays, Buffaloes, Cardinals, Ducks, Gators, Gophers, Jackrabbits, Jaguars, Jayhawks, Owls, Panthers and Wolverines.

Maybe you don’t like authority. There are two Rebels to back in the Tournament in Ole Miss (which has a REAL rebel on the roster) and Nevada-Las Vegas.

Like old westerns? There are Cowboys (Oklahoma State plus New Mexico State if you go by mascot characters) and Indians (Illinois) in the fields.

Love to fight? You have the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Fighting Illini of Illinois.

Are you proud of your Scottish or Irish heritage and aren’t quite ready to let go of St. Patrick’s Day? Of course there is the Fighting Irish, but you could also back the Gaels of St. Mary’s and Iona.

Jim Cantore

We all know who this guy is backing in March.

Maybe you’re a meteorologist whose team didn’t quite make the Tournament this year. One hard and fast rule about meteorologists is that they LOVE to talk about the weather. All the time. So they have the Miami Hurricanes and the Iowa State Cyclones to make them feel at home and maybe never even break out of their weather reports.

Other professions in the Tournament include farmers in the New Mexico State and North Carolina A&T Aggies, the LaSalle Explorers and even royalty with the James Madison Dukes.

Need something a little more fierce than a low-level royal sycophant to get you through the next three weeks? There are three types of warrior people in the Tournament – the San Diego State Aztecs, the Valparaiso Crusaders and the Michigan State Spartans.

Still nothing? Well, you’re being a little hard to please, but you can go with mythical creatures (the St. Louis Billikens or Kansas Jayhawks) and even devils (Duke Blue Devils and Northwestern State Demons).

Finally, you can just pick a mascot that almost nobody understands. The Ohio State Buckeyes, Harvard Crimson, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Georgetown Hoyas, Indiana Hoosiers, Wichita State Shockers, North Carolina Tar Heels or Akron Zips would all fit the bill.

Look, I know that’s a lot to take in. And I know the tournament is just hours away. Maybe with no real team of your own in the tournament, you’re just too depressed to follow along. I completely understand. In that case feel free to do what I intend to do while the Tournament goes on around me:
Keep Calm Drink Bourbon


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