NHL Hockey in Las Vegas – Golden Knights

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Welcome, Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights recently came to fruition as a result of the NHL awarding the city an expansion team. The Vegas squad will officially take the ice for the first time during the 2017-18 season – prepared with an all-in mentality!

In a unanimous decision, the league’s owners granted the City of Lights its first major professional sports team in 2016. American businessman and attorney Bill Foley will guide the path for the Vegas-based squad alongside the seasoned George McPhee, who will serve as the team’s general manager. This dynamic duo brings decades of business, hockey, and leadership to the newfound franchise.

Continue reading to see how the Golden Knights found a place to call home in Vegas and what the hype is really all about.

Getting Started

The Golden Knights have now completed the expansion process and are officially the NHL's 31st franchise. #BoldInGold

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As the story goes, Bill Foley realized the untapped potential Las Vegas had for hosting hockey and immediately sprang into action. His goal to bring an NHL franchise was streamlined after he began the “Vegas Wants Hockey” campaign, which advertised the idea and created a conversation across social media platforms.

Besides forming an identity, selecting a name symbolizes the beginning of a major league sports team. Foley’s vision for a name and team logo included a wordmark that was “powerful and would epitomize the warrior class.” The West Point graduate initially opted for the title “Vegas Black Knights,” but received opposition from military leaders. Knights embody the warrior class and live on a code to serve and protect – which is the exact culture Foley wishes to base the organization around.

The T-Mobile Arena, just west of the famous Las Vegas Strip, will serve as the kingdom in which the Golden Knights will try to dominate all who oppose them. The arena has a capacity of 17,500 seats for hockey games and was “built with hockey in mind,” according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The Las Vegas franchise has also reached its maximum season ticket sales, which capped off at 16,000 purchases. Needless to say, the fans are excited.

What Happens in Vegas …

The official team colors for the Vegas Golden Knights are steel grey, gold, red, and black – representing the community’s durability and strength. For their inaugural logo, the team utilizes a steel grey and gold color scheme, featuring a knight’s helmet overlay on a black and gold shield. A “V” is cut out on the front of the knight’s helmet as an homage to their home city (Vegas, of course).

Although the Golden Knights have yet to release initial jersey designs, one thing is certain – fans can expect to be #BoldInGold.

McPhee and Foley have their work cut out during the expansion draft regarding the construction of a super-charged roster. The Golden Knights have the ability to draft one player from each of the 30 incumbent clubs in the league. In addition to having no lower than the sixth overall draft pick, the team is guaranteed the third pick in the following round as well.  

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Vegas Golden Knights Fanatics Branded Primary Logo T-Shirt – Dark Grey Heather

Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” may be a quote of the past because the Golden Knights are ready to take the league by storm. Prepare for the upcoming season in Sin City by updating your wardrobe ahead of time. Check out Fanatics.com to get ahold of the brand new Golden Knights fan gear!

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The Evolution of the San Antonio Spurs Jersey

The Beginning

Before the San Antonio Spurs became what they are, the team started out as the Dallas Chaparrals in 1967 as part of the American Basketball Association. Cliff Hagan came out of his one-year retirement to become a player-coach for the Chaparrals. The Chaparrals ended the season 46-32, but this was only the start to some pretty incredible basketball history.

The Birth of the Spurs

As a result of a few bad seasons, interchangeable coaches, and a loss of public interest, businessmen from San Antonio purchased the Chaparrals, bringing San Antonio a franchise basketball team in 1973 known as The San Antonio Spurs. Tom Nissalke, former Chaparrals head coach and NBA Seattle SuperSonics head coach, came back to the team for a fresh start. The Spurs had a slow start up until Nissalke acquired 6-foot-11-inch Swen Nater in November 1973. The Spurs went from playing in front of 1,799 people to 10,146 fans in just one month. However, the Spurs didn’t stop there. They continued to build their dream team by acquiring George “The Iceman” Gervin in January that same year. The Spurs went on to win 12 of 18 games and reached third place with a 45-39 season record.

In the 1974-75 season, the Spurs added Donnie Freeman, who played for the Chaparrals a few years prior. San Antonio had a solid group of guys, with third-year guard James “Snake” Silas, sixth-year forward Rich Jones, Swen Nater, Donnie Freeman, and George Gervin, who all averaged 15-19 points per game.

Even though the Spurs were off to a great season, Nissalke was fired. Bob Bass took over as the head coach. Bass wouldn’t be the head coach for too long, though, as the Spurs stepped foot into the National Basketball Association the next season. Doug Moe took Bass’s place as head coach in 1976; however, the team stayed the same. The Spurs played their first-ever NBA game Oct. 22, 1976, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite playing in front of 17,196 Sixers fans, the Spurs came home with a victorious 121-118 win. The Spurs – with a 44-38 game record – came away from their first year in the NBA as the sixth best team in the league.

The 1980s

The next six seasons between 1976 and 1982 would be the era of George “The Iceman” Gervin. During those years, the Spurs reached a franchise record high of 52-30 in 1978 and 1981. In the 1979-80 season, Gervin was averaging 33.1 points per game.  Although 1980 was a great year for Gervin, one man can’t carry an entire team. The team ended the season with a 41-41 record.

The Spurs went on to be mediocre in the ’80s with spurts of good years here and there, until the 1989-90 season when they finished with a record of 56-26 with the help of rookie David Robinson. This was a huge improvement by the Spurs and head coach Larry Brown given that the previous season’s record was 21-61.  

The 1990s

In the 1990s, the Spurs had five head coaches – the continuance of Larry Brown, Jerry Tarkanian, John Lucas, Bob Hill, and current head coach Gregg Popovich.  The Spurs’ incredible season in 1989-90 was topped by the 1994-95 season when the San Antonio Spurs finished with a 62-20 season record under head coach Bob Hill.  Center David Robinson was the No. 1 player that year, averaging 27.6 points per game.

The Beginning of Dominance

Who are the Spurs today? Now, they’re one of the top teams in the league and have millions of fans, some of which have never lived in San Antonio. The 2000s brought magical seasons for Spurs fans as the team became consistently good under head coach Gregg Popovich. The 2002-03 season was one of the best, as they won their first title with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

However, their best season occurred during the 2015-16 season. The Spurs finished with a 67-15 record and second in the NBA Western Conference with the help of Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 21.2 points per game.

We’ve touched base on a few pretty historic seasons – including the 1994-95 season under Bob Hill, the 1989-90 season under Larry Brown, the 2002-03 season, and the 2015-16 season – all of which have made the Spurs one of the most polarizing teams in the country. Now it’s time to take a look at the most iconic Spurs jerseys throughout the years.

The Evolution of the Spurs Jersey

1973-1977: During the Spurs’ first year in the NBA, the home jersey was almost identical to what it is today just a different color. Back then, Mike D’Antoni balled out in a silver jersey with “Spurs” spelled out and a spur replacing the “u.”

1976-1977: On the road, the team decked out in black, with “San Antonio” spelled out instead of “Spurs.” The team stuck with that concept until 1989.

1989-2002: If you were at an away game, you’d see David Robinson wearing a jersey almost identical to their home jersey, with “Spurs” written across the chest instead of “San Antonio.”

2012-2017: Since 2012, the jerseys have pretty much stayed the same, except for the addition of a silver jersey jersey with the player’s numbers and a spur to the side and below.

There have been teams that have gone through pretty drastic jersey changes, but San Antonio is not one of them. We suppose the Texas saying rings true in this instance – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Headed to a Spurs game this season? Before you go, make sure to snag your jersey over at Fanatics.com, so that you can rep your team in style!

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NHL Trade Deadline Analysis

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Trades and trade rumors were exciting in the final hours and minutes before the NHL trade deadline came and went. Once the clock hit 12 a.m. on March 2, 2017, team rosters were frozen – no more moves could be made. Some franchises were able to upgrade, while others … not so much.

Is your team fielding a better lineup now than they did in December or January? How were these trades graded, and did your team’s general manager come out looking like the star pupil or class clown? We took a look at some of the biggest trades that occurred right up until the NHL trade deadline window closed to see which teams came out looking the best.

Power Plays

Here are the biggest deals, broken down by days, that occurred before the NHL trade deadline expired.

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Sunday, February 26

The Los Angeles Kings trade G Peter Budaj, D Erik Cernak, a seventh-round pick, and a conditional pick in the 2017 Draft to the Tampa Bay Lightning for G Ben Bishop and fifth-round pick in the 2017 Draft.

Welcome to LA Ben.

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Ben Bishop may not have been a Lighting player at the end of the season, so the team’s general manager Steve Yzerman found a way to get some value for the established goalkeeper. However, the quality of this trade depends on how the conditional pick pans out, as it may be tied to how deep into the playoffs the Kings go. The Kings gave up a lot for Bishop, especially since one of their goalies, Jonathan Quick, returned from injury in fine form. It’s an expensive insurance policy.

The Arizona Coyotes trade F Martin Hanzal, F Ryan White, and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 Draft to the Minnesota Wild for F Grayson Downing, a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, a second-round pick in 2018, and a conditional pick in 2019.

Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher wants to win the Western Conference, and this move brings his organization closer to doing that. While he had to use draft picks as collateral, he also helped the Wild keep prospects such as Kirill Kaprizov, Jordan Greenway, and Joel Eriksson Ek. The Coyotes and general manager John Chayka, however, managed to get a high return for a player who could be on a different team next season. Both the Coyotes and Wild earned high marks for their trade deadline execution, each received an A- from SBNation.

Monday, February 27

The St. Louis Blues trade D Kevin Shattenkirk and G Pheonix Copley to the Washington Capitals for F Brad Malone, F Zach Sanford, a 2017 Draft first-round pick, and conditional draft picks.

👋 @shattdeuces! Kevin meets the media. #RockTheRed

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How do you set up your team as Stanley Cup favorites? If you’re Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, you go out and upgrade in an area where you’re already dominant. Adding Shattenkirk to his team’s defense, even if it is just until the end of the season, helps to strengthen their power plays. On the other side of the puck, the Blues were in a no-win scenario. Last year, they let David Backes and Troy Brouwer leave as free agents without capitalizing. The Blues didn’t make the same mistake this time, but they’ll need the Capitals to advance deep into the playoffs for those conditional picks to come good.

The Tampa Bay Lightning trade F Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs for F Byron Froese and a conditional second-round pick in the 2017 Draft.

Did the Toronto Maple Leafs want an extended trial of Brian Boyle before he hits free agency at the end of the season? Perhaps! Their cupboard was stocked with second-round picks, so they didn’t give up too much to see if Boyle fits in well with the Leafs. Meanwhile, the Lighting may end up with 10 picks in the 2017 NHL Draft, giving them extended flexibility as they look to negotiate trades or acquire new talent after the season ends.

Tuesday, February 28

The Detroit Red Wings trade D Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers for a 2017 Draft third-round pick and a 2018 Draft second-round pick.

#NYR Brendan Smith set for his first game @thegarden as a #NYR!

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Most analysts were not a fan of the Rangers’ decision to sell off tomorrow for Brendan Smith, who is a strong defender but not on the level of a player like Shattenkirk, who went to the Washington Capitals. The New York Rangers earned C+ grades from CBS Sports and SBNation for this trade, both being very critical of how much they gave away to acquire the “more-than-viable fill-in” Smith. Meanwhile, Detroit earned A grades for a team that typically is buying, not selling, before the deadline.

Wednesday, March 1

The Tampa Bay Lightning trade F Valtteri Filppula, a fourth-round pick, and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2017 Draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for D Mark Streit; the Tampa Bay Lightning trade D Mark Streit to Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2018 Draft fourth-round pick.

A busy #NHLTrade Deadline for Mark Streit, who ends the day as a member of the @penguins.

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This three-team trade may end up getting counted as a win for each of the three teams involved, even if the Tampa Bay Lightning just worked their magic as a middleman. While the Lightning did manage to add to their draft pick total and free up some cap space, the other two teams found ways to add players in positions of need. The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking for Streit to provide quality help on defense while the Flyers, in Filppula, get a playmaking center who still has a year remaining on his existing contract. If he doesn’t pan out, the Flyers would be able to ship him off next season without too much lost.

The Detroit Red Wings trade F Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers for D Dylan McIlrath and a conditional third-round pick in the 2017 Draft.

Welcome to the squad, Thomas Vanek! 👊

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As a team looking to push for a wild-card spot, the Florida Panthers needed to do something. What they did was add Thomas Vanek to their side, in the hopes he can add the same attacking threat he provided the Detroit Red Wings. Vanek has scored 15 goals for Detroit this season, which is more impressive when you consider he missed nearly a month of games due to injury. The Red Wings continue to stockpile assets they can either use in the draft or include in trades after the end of the current season.

Face Off

Your team may have been one of the many teams wheeling and dealing before the close of the NHL trade deadline. Did they give up more than you thought they should? Do you believe they did enough to make a legitimate push into the Stanley Cup Finals this year? Or are they already scheming for what happens at the end of the season? No matter how your team ended up, make sure you sport their colors at the game or out-and-about by getting the best officially licensed NHL team merchandise and apparel at Fanatics.com.

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The University of North Carolina Mascot: Rameses the Ram

Go Tar Heels!

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prides itself on being the first state school to open in the nation. After being chartered in 1789, the university opened its doors to the first class of students in 1795. UNC was the only institution to award specialized degrees to the rising generation of the 18th century.

The university is widely known for its unusual nickname – the Tar Heels. According to UNC officials, the school’s nickname (which also applies to all North Carolina citizens) can be traced back to two stories. First dating back to the Revolutionary War, it was logged that North Carolinians would place tar in the rivers to immobilize British troops. The second story stems from the Civil War era when soldiers threatened retreating comrades with sticking tar on their boots – forcing them to stay in battle.

No matter the story behind the moniker, students and faculty alike represent their nickname with pride. There to spread this pride is team mascot Rameses the Ram, a rapturous ram that hypes up Tar Heel fanatics at major sporting events on campus.

Rameses the Ram

While the use of a ram for a mascot may seem unusual for a team nicknamed the “Tar Heels,” #TarHeelNation nevertheless views the four-legged headbutter as their glorious mascot. The ram came into play in 1924 after head cheerleader Vic Huggins had decided the university needed a mascot to represent the face of UNC. During the search for a new symbol, Huggins recalled the school’s 1922 football squad, which achieved a 9-1 record that season. Star fullback Jack Merritt was frequently referred to as the “Battering Ram” for his aggressive play style. This unique title caught Huggins attention and influenced the cheerleader to order UNC’s first mascot from Texas for a mere $25!

The first Rameses was present for the UNC-VMI game in 1924 – a time when the football program was in a slump – and was credited with the team’s victory due to his presence. Since then, a long line of rams (all known as Rameses) has witnessed Tar Heel games near and afar.

Serving as a primary source of luck, Rameses has traveled from New York to Jacksonville for many Tar Heel showdowns, including the Carolina-Notre Dame game in 1949 and multiple appearances in Carolina’s Gator Bowl games.

U-N-C!

North Carolina Tar Heels Midnight Mascot T-Shirt – Black

North Carolinians, if you’re looking to support the UNC squad alongside Rameses the Ram like a true Tar Heel, you must look the part. Make your way over to Fanatics.com to explore a wide variety of light blue and white merchandise and fan gear.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Records

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As you get ready to immerse yourself in March Madness, don’t forget to do a little homework. You don’t want to be the only person at the party without some stats to share. Here are a few great records – some recently crafted and others left untouched on the shelf for years – to up your street cred wherever you’ll be watching NCAA men’s basketball this month.

From Downtown: 3-Point Shooters

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Scoring close to 500 points for Davidson in the 2008 season with 3-pointers alone, Steph Curry enabled their 2007-2008 March Madness Cinderella run. While they ultimately lost to the eventual winners, the Kansas Jayhawks, the “Baby-Faced Assassin” made everyone aware of the talent he contained … and the Golden State Warriors took notice.

There have been challenges to the throne as recently as 2014 and 2016, however, with Akeem Richmond of East Carolina scoring 155 points. Unlike Curry, Richmond wasn’t able to parlay his long-range success in college to a career in the NBA. Buddy Hield, tied for third with 147 points, made a better transition on the back of his performances at the University of Oklahoma as the sixth overall draft pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016.

Rejected: Blocked-Shot Specialists

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At almost six blocked shots per game, it’s been hard for anyone to get close to replicating the work done by Keith Closs at Central Connecticut State during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. He struggled to translate these performances into the NBA, playing three season for the Los Angeles Clippers, largely in a backup role. Closs averaged just over one blocked shot per game in his NBA career.

Adonal Foyle, who trailed slightly behind Closs’s numbers, parlayed his time at Colgate between 1995 and 1997 as a blocked-shot specialist into a 12-year professional career. He played for the Golden State Warriors for a decade before stints with the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies rounded out his NBA life span.

Free Points: Most Accurate Free-Throw Shooters

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There are no perfect free-throw shooters in collegiate basketball, but Blake Ahearn has come the closest. He completed close to 98 percent of the free-throw opportunities he earned, 117 out of 120, for Missouri State in 2004. He wouldn’t get the same number of opportunities in the NBA, playing only 19 games in his career between the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and Utah Jazz, but he continued to convert. Ahearn was 32 out of 33 for free throws in the NBA.

J.J. Redick, who scored over 90 percent of his attempted free throws for Duke, turned his college performance into a successful NBA career. Drafted 11th by the Orlando Magic, Redick currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, after a few games in between with the Milwaukee Bucks. Reddick has scored 1,366 of his 1,539 free-throw attempts in the NBA, or almost 89 percent.

Bountiful Buckets: Top Scorers

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No player scored more in his NCAA career than Pete Maravich for Louisiana State University. He played for the school from 1967 to 1970 and scored 3,667 points. Known as “Pistol Pete,” the proficient scorer would go on to play in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans/Utah Jazz, and Boston Celtics, before retiring. He averaged over 24 points per game in the pros, and recently had his number retired by the Hawks. It had previously been retired by the Jazz, Pelicans, and LSU for Pete’s invaluable contributions.

The highest scorer in recent history, Doug McDermott, scored over 3,100 points for Creighton between 2010 and 2014. In his years in the NBA, between the Chicago Bulls who drafted him 11th overall and the Oklahoma City Thunder, “McBuckets” is closing in on 1,400 points scored. He’s completed almost 40 percent of his 3-pointer attempts too!

Laying It On: Highest Single-Point Games

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You may not have heard of Kevin Bradshaw, but he holds the record for most points scored in a single Division I game with 72. He broke the record for U.S. International playing against Loyola Marymount, in turn sending Pistol Pete’s record of 69 to second place.

The @atlhawks retire #PistolPete Maravich's #44!

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Maravich actually owns two of the top five highest-scoring games, with 69 and 66 points each. He earned these records against Alabama and Tulane respectively. Pete actually has four total games where he scored more than 60 points, which has made attempts at catching some of his other records most challenging. He also owns the record for most games scoring at least 50 points (28 games).

Take On the Madness

Whether your team is a first seed, or dark horse candidate for a title challenge, make sure you’re wearing or flying those colors with the best officially licensed NCAA men’s basketball merchandise from Fanatics.com.

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University of Kansas Mascot: Big Jay

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The University of Kansas, in Lawrence, dates to 1866 and enjoys a long, storied history. In addition to being the largest university in Kansas, its basketball program is a perennial contender. Fans have savored nearly three solid decades of postseason play.

The university’s sports teams are known as the Jayhawks, but its mascots’ have seen the Civil War and beyond. Let’s look at Kansas athletics and how its mascots got their names.

Kansas Hoops Go Way, Way Back

Kansas’s basketball dynasty can be tracked back well over a century, when the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, was hired as KU’s first basketball coach in 1898. Since then, the Jayhawks have been crowned the regular-season conference champs many times, and are currently on a 12-season streak as champs in the Big 12 under coach Bill Self. Their recent success isn’t new to them, however, as they were regular season champs on an almost-regular basis when they were part of the Big 6, 7, and 8. They’ve also brought home the NCAA championship three times (1952, 1988, 2008).

Current members in the Big 12 (in addition to KU) are Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UT Austin, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. One of KU’s biggest rivalries over the years has been with Missouri, particularly in football – but they compete closely in all sports. This is a tradition that dates to the late 19th century. Since the Kansas City metropolitan area was situated between the two schools, the rivalry could even be seen within families. That link was broken, though, when MU went to the SEC in 2012. These days, same-state showdowns bring some heat when KU and K-State meet on the field or on the court.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk


KU was founded shortly after the end of the Civil War, and its mascot dates back even further. Kansas was a Free State during the time leading up to the conflict, and the territory experienced struggles between people who wanted Kansas to remain free (called free staters) and those who wished slavery was legal. People who caused general mayhem on either side were referred to as Jayhawkers, but the term stuck to the free staters and gradually became a symbol of patriotism.

Lawrence was a Free State stronghold, and the Jayhawk started to make its way into school chants in 1886 when it was first used as part of the now-famous Rock Chalk chant.

Dancing our way through the week #RockChalk

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The Jayhawk is a mythical bird – a combination of the blue jay and sparrow hawk – and was first illustrated in the student newspaper in 1912. The present-day mascot was created by Harold Sandy 30-plus years later.

The costumed mascot cheered for KU alone for many years, but that changed in 1971. During homecoming, Big Jay, as he was later called, carted a huge egg to the 50-yard line. The egg “hatched,” and Baby Jay was born. Big Jay and Baby Jay take on cheering duties in tandem these days, with Baby Jay sporting a one-half symbol on her jersey.

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Kansas Jayhawks Midnight Mascot Long Sleeve T-Shirt

If you’re headed out to Allen Fieldhouse or Memorial Stadium to watch your ’Hawks take on another season, be sure to get your favorite KU Jayhawks gear from Fanatics.com.

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Rooting for the Underdog

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Building the Bracket

March Madness is officially upon us, as the first four teams duke it out this Tuesday and Wednesday for their chance to become NCAA champions. Villanova, last year’s champions, Gonzaga, and Kansas sit at the top three spots in the AP Top 25 poll. According to FiveThirtyEight’s predictions, these three also have strong chances at the championship trophy, with Villanova at the top spot of a 15 percent chance to win it all. Gonzaga is at 14 percent and Kansas is at a 10 percent.

Villanova had a big season this year, despite the Wildcats’ loss of key players: junior Jay Booth (who suffered from a knee injury after three games) and freshman Omari Spellman. Nonetheless, seniors Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Kris Jenkins led their team in this strong season. Similarly, Gonzaga had a boastful 32-1 regular season led by USA TODAY Sports’ Coach of the Year, Mark Few. And once again, Kansas captured the No. 1 seed. This is the seventh time in the past eleven years that they have done so.

The West Region #SelectionSunday

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While the big boys are expected to do well throughout the tournament, let’s take a look at some of the underdogs who could very well be this year’s “Cinderella Story” and bust some brackets in the process.

Bracket Busters

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Part of the excitement of March Madness is the possible chance of upsets, starting with the very first round. Number 10 seed Wichita State, currently on a 15-game winning streak, is expected to beat out number 7 seed Dayton. Number 9 seed Vanderbilt is also expected to win over Number 8 seed and tournament first-timer, Northwestern. There are a few close calls and potential upsets between Maryland (No. 6) and Xavier (No. 11), Arkansas (No. 8) and Seton Hall (No. 9), and Minnesota (No. 5) and Middle Tennessee (No. 12).

The South Region #SelectionSunday

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Chalk It Up

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While these games are up in the air, we can always count on sure things between No. 1 and 2 seeds versus Number 15 and 16 seeds. We can expect No. 1 North Carolina, to win handedly over Texas Southern, Gonzaga over South Dakota, Louisville over Jacksonville State, Kentucky over Northern Kentucky, and Duke over Troy. While rivals No. 2 Duke and No. 1 North Carolina are both widely considered the favorites to win it all this year, potentially adding a sixth tourney win under Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s belt, Kentucky could make things difficult.

Let’s Ball

This year’s March Madness is sure to be thrilling as always. Why not pick up your favorite team’s gear at Fanatics.com before going to this year’s watch parties?

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Mississippi State University Mascot: Bully the Bulldog

#HailState

In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Act – providing land-grant entities to finance the establishment of state colleges specializing in “agriculture and the mechanic arts.” As a result, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi was born in 1878. The new institution would receive its first class of students nearly two years later in the fall of 1880. The university is also dedicated to three broad purposes: learning, service, and research (which is also utilized as the school’s motto). The college gained accreditation in 1926 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. State legislature changed the school’s name to Mississippi State College in 1932 and again in 1958 to Mississippi State University.

The Bulldogs participate in 14 different sports with a long history of success throughout multiple programs. The program, which is known for their powerhouse football team, has appeared in a total of 20 bowl games; it’s emerged as the victor in 12 seasons.

There to cheer on the students, alumni, and faculty is the school’s mascot – Bully the Bulldog. Let’s look at how this canine came to be the mascot and focus on the impact he has on die-hard Mississippi State fanatics.

Bully the Bulldog

The athletic teams at Hail State earned the moniker “The Bulldogs” due to their tough and determined gameplay of student-athletes representing the maroon and white. An American Kennel Club-registered English Bulldog serves as the university’s official mascot with the name “Bully” bequeathed to each new pup.

The school’s teams, which date back to at least 1905, have been referenced as Bulldogs interchangeably with past titles such as the Aggies or Maroons. The name was formally adopted as the school’s athletic symbol after taking down their arch rivals, University of Mississippi, in a shutout performance and acknowledged by local newspapers for their “bulldog” style of gameplay. It wasn’t until 1961 that the Bulldogs became the official university title of State teams.

Over the years, Bully has been an attractive target to kidnappers, especially on the night before a major game. The most recent incident occurred in 1974 prior to the State-Ole Miss game which resulted in the Bulldogs basking in victory anyway (31-13).

🐶🏀 is coming … Bully is ready, are you?! #HailState

A photo posted by Mississippi State Athletics (@hailstate) on

Once upon a time, Bully could roam campus at his own discretion and even bunked with some fraternity brothers when needed. Nowadays, Bully has found a place to call home at the College of Veterinary Medicine – when he’s not hyping up the fans at a home football game, of course.

Mississippi State Bulldogs Midnight Mascot Long Sleeve T-Shirt – Black

Join Bully in representing the maroon and white by heading over to Fanatics for all your Hail State fan gear and essentials!

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Baylor University Mascot: Bruiser the Bear

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Go Bears! Go Bears!

“Deep in the Heart of Texas” – or Waco, Texas, for those unfamiliar with the Lone Star State – students at Baylor University agree that everything is bigger, including their sports programs. Officially established in 1845 by Republic President Anson Jones, Baylor University participates in 17 varsity sports and enjoys a history of many significant accomplishments. In addition to the school’s football squad appearing in 23 bowl games, Baylor’s track and field division are recognized for producing several successful United States Olympians.

One week! #SicEm

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Bruiser the Bear for Baylor University

Aside from serving as a symbol for the university, the American black bear helps Baylor promote awareness for this essential wildlife furball. In 1914, students on campus voted to have the bear represent the school as their official mascot. Since then, Baylor has utilized the bear to spread school spirit across campus while rockin’ the green and gold. (Baylor’s official colors).

The university currently has two American black bears residing at the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat located on campus. Judge Joy Reynolds, or “Joy,” and Judge Sue Sloan, “Lady,” are two biological bear sisters that encompass the heart and soul of Baylor University. They can be found playing with each other throughout the day near their “den” on university grounds. While these ladies are cute, it would be a little inappropriate to bring a nearly 300-pound bear to a home sporting game – this is where Bruiser the Bear comes in. 

This is our house and we will protect it! #SicTCU (📷: @austinmann)

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Bruiser the Bear is the school’s costumed mascot and can be found pumping up fans in attendance at most sporting events, pep rallies, and community events year-round! The spirit squad members under the bear suit consist of seven students who train at least twice a week – ensuring a mentally and physically healthy mascot to fan the flames of fandom.

Baylor Midnight Mascot T-Shirt

 

BAY-LOR! BEARS! BAY-LOR! BEARS! Before joining Bruiser and the rest of the spirit squad at Baylor’s next home game, be sure to come prepared in the latest green and gold swag. Head over to Fanatics.com today and get ready to “Sic ’Em Bears!”

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March Madness Bracket Paths

NCAA-Tournament-Bracket-Path_header

It’s a time-honored tradition: filling out the March Madness bracket. Everyone has their own way of filling it out: advancing the highest rank teams, determining which mascot would beat the other in a head-to-head fight, or applying a “scientific method” with stats and graphs. If it’s just for fun, or as part of an office pool, here’s the information you need to chart a path to victory.

Here's your FIRST LOOK at the #FinalFour court!

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Understanding the Madness

Sixty-four teams will vie to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I National Championship, but not all teams are created equal. There are four regions – East, Midwest, South, West – each with 16 different teams ranked No. 1 through No. 16. They will play head-to-head elimination games, pairing the highest ranked seed with the lowest ranked seed (e.g., No. 1 vs. No. 16; No. 2 vs. No. 15). Teams will continue to advance to the regional finals.

After the regional finals, the semifinals will take place, pitting the victors of the East, Midwest, South, and West against one another. The two teams that advance at this stage will play in the final. However, don’t look for many of those lower seeds, No. 9 through No. 16, to make it to the final game. As of 2000, the lowest seed to make it to a final was No. 8. In this same period, No. 1 seeds have made the final 16 out of the 32 possible times. No. 1 seeds have also won 11 of the last 17 tournaments.

Let's dance! #SelectionSunday

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The Path of Champions

So maybe you know the teams that qualified this season and have watched more minutes than anyone else in your office. More likely you know some of the teams, at least those who are top ranked, but maybe not much else. Here’s a look at how likely, by seed, teams are to advance within the tournament.

While there is still the likelihood a surprise entrant makes it to the finals – like in 2014 when No. 7 Connecticut emerged from the East to beat No. 8 Kentucky out of the Midwest – fortune seems to favor the better-ranked teams. Anywhere from just below 20 percent to near 30 percent of the time the first ranked team advances forward to the second and third rounds.

In certain locations on the bracket (bottom right, for example), your No. 1 seed team almost goes to a 40 percent chance they’ll make it to the finals. Rolling the dice on a few sleepers may be a good idea, but don’t overthink it either. Those No. 1 seeds may be your ticket to your best bracket ever.

We’ve compiled data to come up with the most common bracket paths to victory. Use the interactive below to help you make some toss-up decisions, and help you do the unthinkable: Turn your bracket into a winner.

How Often a Finalist Might Emerge From a Given Game
How Often a Champion May Win a Given Game
How Often a Runner-Up May Win a Given Game
The Most Likely Path For Getting to the Finals
The Most Likely Path For a Runner-Up
The Most Likely Path For a Champion


The March Toward Glory

Even if you’ve never found success predicting the winner of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I National Championship, it’s still easy to root for your favorite teams! Equip yourself with the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel for your school with Fanatics.com. Don’t get caught wearing the wrong colors when March Madness kicks into full swing.

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