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Orange Parenting: The Under-5 Bracket

A mascot with a simple face and a hat is evidently pleasing to the pre-K crowd. My girls picked Ohio State over Cincinnati due to the hat.
A mascot with a simple face and a hat is evidently pleasing to the pre-K crowd. My girls picked Ohio State over Cincinnati due to the hat.

It’s such a simple concept that even Maggie and Reese understand: Syracuse gets to keep playing basketball games until we lose. The NCAA Basketball Tournament is a toddler-friendly time of year! And considering how well my predictions have turned out in the past, I figured that the girls are just as likely to win any playground pool they enter, so we sat down to fill out their brackets. Having been trained to root for Otto in every circumstance, however, posed a problem. Some of these games do not include Otto. What to do, what to do?

For each pairing, I Googled images of the mascots, and asked the girls which mascot’s team was going to win a basketball game when they played. We worked on this together (one bracket for Maggie and Reese to share), and due to attention span issues, I postponed doing it until this week. Eight games were plenty to talk about.

Now, I expected the obvious answers to prevail. I mean, isn’t it 100% clear that an alligator will beat an eagle, regardless of how golden that eagle may be? But the girls’ predictions surprised me. Keep in mind that sometimes children get stuck on one thought track, so you’ll see a few mentions of "hitting the ball", despite numerous corrections about this not being related to baseball.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Indiana Hoosiers – We started out with a problem because Indiana famously does not have a mascot. However, I explained that a Hoosier is a person and the mascot would probably be red. I needed to go no further, as Maggie reasoned that a Hoosier will win because it has hands to hold a basketball, unlike a Wildcat.

Baylor Bears vs. Xavier Musketeers – The arms argument continued here, with both girls picking the Xavier Musketeer to win. Reese even added that he has stronger arms than the Hoosier she had imagined, so we have her prediction locked up for the Final Four, too.

Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Florida Gators – Despite quite a bit of prodding by me, including such educational phrases as, "Look at his teeth," Maggie assured me that an Eagle will hit the ball with his beak and therefore win a basketball game. I guess those teeth would pop the ball, so my knowledge is clearly no good for judging mascot ability.

Syracuse Orange vs. Wisconsin Badgers – Syracuse will win because "Otto’s the best". No argument here.

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes – Reese determined that the Buckeye mascot has a hat on like Otto does, so they will win the game. I went back to check on the Bearcat, and he does not, so we will have to see how much a mascot’s hat has to do with their team’s success.

Michigan St. Spartans vs. Louisville Cardinals – Sometimes, even a parent doesn’t know what her own child is talking about. Maggie said that a Cardinal will win because "it’s more personer". I have to assume that has to do with basketball skills, but how is a Cardinal more personer than a Spartan? I just had to smile and nod.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Ohio Bobcats – Maggie tells me that a goat can hold a basketball with his horns, so the Tar Heels get her pick. Looking back, my children have not chosen any of the feline mascots (Wildcats, Bearcats, or Bobcats). Good thing for them that North Carolina did not arbitrarily choose a cat to represent a Tar Heel.

N.C. State Wolfpack vs. Kansas Jayhawks – Again, the girls informed me that the wolf will be hitting the basketball with its tail. When I reminded them that a bird has a tail, too, the argument was that the wolf can run faster. I gave up before mentioning the flying thing helping with dunks because their logic had been so sound on all of their other picks.

By this point, both girls were jumping on the couch and asking for snacks, so I had to stop. They’ve picked the underdog for four of the eight games, so they’ll earn some major points if they’re right. But I’m with them: The only one that really matters is Otto.

If you’re still reading, you are either a very thorough reader here at TNIAAM or you have at least a small personal interest in my life and my family. So I’ll share with you the fact that during the past few weeks, between my 40th birthday and March Madness, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Kinda puts that whole Fab Melo thing in perspective, doesn't it? I am blogging about that at Feel free to join me over there, too.