No. 16 seed WKU upsets No. 1 seed LSU in Sirius XM’s Mascot Bracket, advances to 2nd round

Junior wide receiver Nacarius Fant (1) jumps up into the stands and celebrates with fans and Big Red after the Hilltoppers’ 44-43 win in two overtime against MTSU on Saturday Oct. 15, 2016 at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Kathryn Ziesig/ HERLAD

Nick Kieser

The NCAA Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, were canceled by COVID-19 on March 12, but the College Sports on SiriusXM Twitter account has revived intercollegiate sports competition by initiating the Sirius XM Mascot Bracket, an online mascot tournament that’s provided quite a bit of entertainment for WKU fans.

The bracket, which initially featured matchups between 64 unique mascots from schools around the country, was released on April 3. Since then, there have been two completed rounds of voting.

{{tncms-inline account=”College Sports on SiriusXM” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">64 Mascots, 1 Bracket. Be ready to vote your school all the way to the Final Four starting on Monday, April 6th! <a href="https://t.co/jAy9SbjFeo">pic.twitter.com/jAy9SbjFeo</a></p>— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) <a href="https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246171748195860484?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 3, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246171748195860484″ type=”twitter”}}

Although the tournament was initially slated to begin on Monday, the SiriusXM Mascot Bracket left out a few mascots that fans believed should be in the tourney field. Fans called for the inclusion of several mascots, but one of the most requested additions was WKU’s mascot, Big Red.

{{tncms-inline account=”Peter Burns” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Any mascot bracket that doesn’t have the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers is hiiiiiiighly questionable.PUT THEM IN A PLAY-IN MATCHUP! <a href="https://t.co/C2vYFM9UPh">https://t.co/C2vYFM9UPh</a></p>— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) <a href="https://twitter.com/PeterBurnsESPN/status/1246174665283964928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 3, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/PeterBurnsESPN/status/1246174665283964928″ type=”twitter”}}

When SiriusXM announced on Saturday that two more mascots would be added to the bracket via play-in games on Sunday, the Hilltoppers’ mascot was among the creatures listed.

{{tncms-inline account=”College Sports on SiriusXM” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The 2020 SiriusXM Mascot Bracket is for the fans and the fans have spoken! After much feedback, two more mascots will be added to the bracket in play-in games tomorrow. 16 <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUSports</a> v 16 <a href="https://twitter.com/OleMissSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OleMissSports</a>.16 <a href="https://twitter.com/BYUCougars?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BYUCougars</a> v 16 <a href="https://twitter.com/BCEagles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BCEagles</a>You asked for it,now show up in the vote! <a href="https://t.co/CRrtvwEg9t">pic.twitter.com/CRrtvwEg9t</a></p>— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) <a href="https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246576682871504897?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 4, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246576682871504897″ type=”twitter”}}

Big Red was matched up with Landshark Tony, the mascot for the University of Mississippi’s athletic teams. If Big Red could conquer a school from a major Power 5 conference, the Hilltoppers could earn their way into the official 64-team bracket via play-in bid.

After earning 89.3% of the 2,482 votes cast, Big Red, the blob that hails from Bowling Green, had claimed a spot in the tournament as a No. 16 seed. Big Red’s seeding meant WKU was set for a first-round date with No. 1 seed LSU and its famed mascot, Mike the Tiger, on Monday.

{{tncms-inline account=”College Sports on SiriusXM” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/6XEx7Ncy23">pic.twitter.com/6XEx7Ncy23</a></p>— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) <a href="https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246830013636362242?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 5, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1246830013636362242″ type=”twitter”}}

A first-round matchup in the Mascot Bracket South Region pitted WKU against its second SEC foe in as many days. A No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament just once out of 140 games played, but Big Red was still looking to pull an upset.

WKU supporters turned out in droves to aid Big Red in his efforts, including WKU President Timothy Caboni, Conference USA, WDRB News meteorologist Jude Redfield, the Bowling Green Hot Rods, current men’s basketball junior guard Taveion Hollingsworth and local legends Cage the Elephant.

After 14,850 votes had been tallied, Big Red prevailed once again. WKU upset LSU by a narrow margin, claiming victory with 53.5% of votes compared to 46.5% for Mike the Tiger.

{{tncms-inline account=”College Sports on SiriusXM” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/GRIjtCG8Xc">pic.twitter.com/GRIjtCG8Xc</a></p>— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) <a href="https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1247192268399874048?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 6, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1247192268399874048″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”Big Red” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hey all you cool cats and kittens… I’m on a mission to GET THE NAT.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoTops?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoTops</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZHzYNny0fL">pic.twitter.com/ZHzYNny0fL</a></p>— Big Red (@WKUBigRed) <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUBigRed/status/1247373892605415425?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/WKUBigRed/status/1247373892605415425″ type=”twitter”}}

WKU is still alive in the tournament, as No. 16 seed Big Red is set to meet No. 8 seed Aubie the Tiger, the mascot for Auburn’s athletic teams, in a second-round battle on Tuesday.

Voting for the Mascot Bracket South Region Round 2 matchup began at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, and Big Red is now locked in a relatively close battle with WKU’s third SEC foe in as many days.

At press time, 8,572 votes had been cast, with WKU in the lead 55.4% to 44.6%. Roughly seven hours remain on the poll, which will eventually end with one sole survivor.

Big Red supporters can vote WKU to the Sweet 16 using the tweet below until 11 p.m. on Tuesday:

{{tncms-inline account=”College Sports on SiriusXM” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/0XM5XzYjin">pic.twitter.com/0XM5XzYjin</a></p>— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) <a href="https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1247554736884195330?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 7, 2020</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/SXMCollege/status/1247554736884195330″ type=”twitter”}}

Reporter Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected] Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.