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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | October 1, 2018

The most successful mascots last college basketball season

Kyle Terada | USA TODAY Sports Images The mascots for USC and UCLA pose at a basketball game.

This is the college basketball analysis you didn't know you needed until now.

We analyzed all 351 NCAA men's basketball teams that competed at the Division I level last season and categorized each team's nickname into one of the following 16 categories:

  • People (Mountaineers, Pioneers, Highlanders, Colonials, etc.)
  • Fighters (Spartans, Raiders, Pirates, Buccaneers, Vikings, etc.)
  • Cats (Wildcats, Tigers, Lions, etc.)
  • Dogs (Bulldogs, Huskies, Terriers, etc.)
  • Birds (Eagles, Cardinals, Hawks, Falcons, etc.)
  • Bears (Grizzlies, Bruins, etc.)
  • Horses (Broncos, Mustangs, Mavericks, etc.)
  • Wolves (Wolfpack, Lobos, Coyotes, etc.)
  • Buffaloes/Bison
  • Rams
  • Other Animals (Wolverines, Gators, Horned Frogs, etc.)
  • Insects (Hornets, Yellow Jackets, etc.)
  • Mythology (Demons, Titans, etc.)
  • Aggies
  • Weather (Cyclones, Waves, Flames, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (Blue Hose, Rockets, Ragin' Cajuns, etc.)

A quick disclaimer: Some schools have a mascot that doesn't match up with their nickname, like Alabama with an elephant mascot or Stanford with a tree mascot, so we're strictly looking a school's nickname (the Crimson Tide or the Cardinal) for this story.

Our goal? To find out which of the groups listed above – both collectively and pound-for-pound – was the strongest last season.

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Here's what we found: Cats, birds and fighters were collectively the three winningest mascots. It's not surprising that some of the more niche nickname types, like Aggies, Rams and Insects had fewer combined wins.

The chart below lists the number of teams in each type of nickname, total wins, losses, regular season conference championships, conference tournament championships, NCAA tournament bids and NCAA tournament wins.

Type teams Wins losses reg. season conf. tourney ncaaT bids NCAAT Wins
Cats 57 986 885 9 8 13 17
Birds 56 869 959 3 3 5 4
Fighters 46 830 688 9 5 10 7
People 47 799 744 1 3 9 8
Dogs 28 453 461 3 2 3 4
Other Animals 23 421 354 2 3 7 7
Miscellaneous 17 298 254 2 0 2 4
Bears 13 228 202 1 1 2 0
weather 11 187 177 0 0 2 1
mythology 12 181 208 1 1 3 3
wolves 8 177 98 2 1 4 7
horses 10 172 149 2 1 1 0
buffalo/bison 6 115 86 1 3 3 1
aggies 5 109 62 2 1 2 2
rams 5 90 77 1 0 2 2
insects 5 44 115 0 0 0 0

Here were the most successful teams, grouped by nickname type, last season on a per-team basis, meaning we took the groups totals listed above and divided by the number of teams in each category.

type wins losses ncaa tournament wins
wolves 22.13 12.25 0.88
Aggies 21.80 12.40 0.40
Buffaloes/Bison 19.17 14.33 0.17
Other Animals 18.30 15.39 0.30
Fighters 18.04 14.96 0.15
rams 18.00 15.40 0.40
bears 17.53 15.53 0.00
Miscellaneous 17.53 14.94 0.24
cats 17.30 15.53 0.30
Horses 17.20 14.90 0.00
People 17.00 15.83 0.17
Weather 17.00 16.09 0.09
dogs 16.18 16.46 0.14
birds 15.52 17.13 0.07
mythology 15.08 17.33 0.25
insects 8.80 23.00 0.00

While there isn't a single DI men's basketball team with the nickname of "Wolves," there are the Wolf Pack, Wolfpack, Ramblers and Seawolves, among others, and when you average the wins that group collectively won, the numbers are pretty impressive.

Loyola Chicago won 32 games, including four in the NCAA tournament during a Final Four run, and Nevada won 29 games and two in the tournament. We also included the South Dakota Coyotes, who were 26-game winners in the Summit League last season.

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