College basketball team nickname bracket: Vote now in the Final Four

We have our Final Four in the college basketball team nickname bracket.

The top-seeded Camels emerged as the better “Fighting” animal, taking out the Blue Hens to win the Friendly & Funny Region. Down in the Strange & Quirky, a huge grassroots effort from Presbyterian fans helped the fifth-seeded Blue Hose edge the No. 2 seed Ragin’ Cajuns. The right side of the bracket saw both of its top seeds prevail against upstart underdogs — the Leathernecks over the Rainbow Warriors in the Strong & Virtuous Region and the Mastodons over the Golden Griffins in the Formidable & Scary. (Click here for a full-size version of the updated bracket.)

Here were the Elite Eight results:

Matchup Winner Vote %
1 Fighting Camels vs. 3 Fightin’ Blue Hens Fighting Camels 73
5 Blue Hose vs. 2 Ragin’ Cajuns Blue Hose 51
1 Leathernecks vs. 7 Rainbow Warriors Leathernecks 56
1 Mastodons vs. 6 Golden Griffins Mastodons 59

So our tournament’s top three overall seeds all have reached the Final Four, along with the Blue Hose, riding an incredible wave of momentum. In an interesting quirk, one semifinal features two teams from the Big South Conference, the other has two teams from the Summit League. The nickname force is strong with these conferences.

It’s too tough to tell who the favorite is at this point. These are all powerhouse names with engaged fan bases. Spread the word. Get out and vote. You only have two days for this round — semifinal voting is open now through Wednesday at noon ET. Championship voting starts shortly thereafter.

Let’s get on with it. Who should move on to the championship?

No. 1 Fighting Camels vs. No. 5 Blue Hose

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 Fightin’ Blue Hens in the Elite Eight. Their closest thing to a “scare” so far was only getting 59 percent of the vote against the Anteaters in the Sweet 16.

But now they go up against the one underdog story remaining in this tournament — the Blue Hose, whose fans have stepped up to the plate big time in this tournament. They needed every inch of it to sneak past the Ragin’ Cajuns — who were leading the voting two days before it closed — in the Elite Eight. Kudos to the Blue Hose for choosing “Hose” instead of “Sox” to mix things up a little. The school insists that this also honors “fierce Scottish warriors.”

No. 1 Leathernecks vs. No. 1 Mastodons

The Leathernecks is the proud moniker of Western Illinois. It’s the only non-military school in the country with a military-inspired nickname — “leathernecks” is a slang term for a U.S. Marine. They dominated the opening two rounds of this tournament, getting 80 percent or more of the vote each time, before getting a push from the Demon Deacons in the Sweet 16 and again from the Rainbow Warriors in the Elite Eight. That downward trend is a cause for concern as they go up against their toughest challenger yet. 

That would be the Mastodons, the second overall seed, who followed up a comfortable win in the Sweet 16 with the second-most comfortable win in the Elite Eight. Why “Mastodons”? In 1968, a geologist at IPFW in Fort Wayne was called to examine a bone found nearby. It was from the leg of a mastodon, evolutionary precursors to the elephant. Two years later, the school adopted it as one of the most unique and catchy nicknames in college sports.