Note: Last week Holy Cross made history as the first Cinderella team of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by winning their First Four play-in game. The 2015-16 Crusaders basketball team’s regular season record was 10-19 (including 0-9 on the road in its conference). However, in the Patriot League tournament, Holy Cross improbably won four consecutive road games to earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a 14-19 record. Then they won their play-in game – a fifth straight upset – before getting crushed by the No. 1 Oregon Ducks in the round of 64.
Note: Since Houston’s football team qualified for one of the New Year’s Six bowl games this year, I figured it was time to make an 8-bit Houston Cougar. It’s going to be (18) Houston vs. (9) Florida State in the Peach Bowl.
The Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks mascot, Willy Warhawk, is NCAA Division III pixel art mascot #4 of 449. UW-Whitewater has won six of the last eight NCAA Division III Football Championships (Stagg Bowls) and has appeared in the national championship game in nine of the last 10 years. The Warhawks played the perennially dominant Mount Union Purple Raiders in all nine championships. (View reference images.)
The Mount Union Purple Raiders mascot, MUCaw, is NCAA Division III pixel art mascot #3 of 449. Mount Union has appeared in 10 consecutive NCAA Division III Football Championships (Stagg Bowls), winning four. Since 1993, Mount Union has appeared in the national championship game a record 18 times, winning 11. The football team has won 94 consecutive regular season games and has posted a 204-1 regular season record since 1994. (View reference images.)
Note: This is NCAA Division I mascot #5 of 5 in celebration of the first week of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The No. 6-seeded Friars play the No. 11-seeded Dayton Flyers (last year’s Cinderella team) today.
Note: This is NCAA Division I mascot #4 of 5 in celebration of the first week of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Note: This is NCAA Division I mascot #3 of 5 in celebration of the first week of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Note: This is NCAA Division I mascot #2 of 5 in celebration of the first week of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
The Dayton Flyers mascot, an early aviator named Rudy Flyer, is NCAA Division I pixel art mascot #105 of 351. Last year Dayton became the Cinderella story of the 2014 NCAA Tournament when they advanced to the Elite 8 as a No. 11 seed. (View reference images.)
Note: This is NCAA Division I mascot #1 of 5 in celebration of the first week of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The No. 11-seeded Dayton Flyers play the Boise State Broncos tomorrow, in Dayton, in one of the “First Four” play-in games. Can Dayton do it again?
The UC Irvine Anteaters mascot, Peter the Anteater, is NCAA Division I pixel art mascot #104 of 351. Dating to the 1960s, he was inspired by the anteater character from Johnny Hart’s B.C. comic strip. Zot, zot, zot. (View reference images.)
Note: University of California, Irvine is one of only a few DI schools for which I’ve created 8-bit mascots that don’t have football teams (the others include George Mason, Gonzaga, La Salle, Loyola Marymount, Saint Louis, VCU, Wichita State and Xavier). The Anteaters basketball team was good last year.
The Northern Iowa Panthers mascot, TC (AKA “The Cat”), is NCAA Division I pixel art mascot #102 of 351. The 1990 Northern Iowa Panthers men’s basketball team is one of the greatest Cinderella stories in NCAA history (and the 2010 team deserves a Cinderella honorable mention). Northern Iowa also has a female mascot named TK (AKA “The Kitten”). (View reference images.)
Note: The Northern Iowa football team (9-4) advanced to the second round of the 2014 FCS Tournament last weekend. Despite a 8-4 regular season record, UNI was the only team to defeat three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State (11-1), which snapped their 33-game winning streak. UNI was also the only team to defeat Illinois State (10-1); they are scheduled to meet the Redbirds again in the second round of the FCS tournament on Saturday, December 6.
The North Dakota State Bison mascot, Thundar, is NCAA Division I pixel art mascot #96 of 351. In football, the Bison are the current three-time defending NCAA Division I-FCS national champions and have a 43-2 record since the start of 2011, the best record in all of Division I football during that time frame. To date, the Bison have won 25 straight games, the longest streak in both Bison and FCS history. (View reference images.)
Note: The North Dakota State football team has won its last five games against FBS teams: at Kansas (2010), at Minnesota (2011), at Colorado State (2012), at Kansas State (2013), and, most recently, at Iowa State last weekend by a score of 34-14.
Note: Last year, the Eagles opened their football season with an impressive 49-46 victory over the No. 25 Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. Dynamic Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more, including one with 18 seconds left that sealed the game for the Eagles. Four months later, Eastern Washington (12-2) made its third trip to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals in four seasons. The Eagles nearly advanced to the national title game against two-time defending champion North Dakota State, but were upset in the closing seconds of their 2013 FCS semifinal game. Three years prior, Eastern Washington won the school’s first national championship in football following the 2010 installation of red turf in Roos Field. Eastern Washington is now known for its intense red playing surface, nicknamed “The Inferno.”