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Ranking the Non-Conference Schedule by Mascot Fear Factor

@rodger

Picture this: you were a highly-touted blue-chip wildcat, a five-star recruit, the top-rated North American predator in your recruiting class. Naturally, you committed to Kentucky. Now you must beat a series of challengers from various species, several of which are birds. Who would you rather face on the court—a cardinal with teeth, or a giant horned cow?

Earlier this week, Kentucky’s official 2020-21 basketball schedule was released, and it looks a little different this year thanks to COVID-19: instead of the usual slate of cupcake games, the Cats will face power-conference opponents in six of nine non-conference games. If you missed it earlier on Sunday, Brandon Ramsey broke down everything you need to know about these matchups. Now, I’m here to break down everything you don’t need to know.

Presented without further context, here’s the official KSR ranking of nonconference opponents mascots… by fear factor!


TIER ONE: The Birds

9. Morehead State: Beaker the Eagle

APPEARANCE: 3.5 | DANGER: 4.5 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 5.0

With apologies to any Eagle fans out there, Morehead State’s mascot just isn’t all that intimidating. The addition of the sharp beak is intriguing, but that cross-eyed stare is hard to take seriously. He probably sucks at basketball, too, but I’ll give him a five in the skill category under the assumption that he can at least fly. Fear Factor: 4.3

8. Kansas: Big Jay

APPEARANCE: 4.0 | DANGER: 4.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 5.5

Big Jay is a little scary, but he’s got a few factors working against him here. One is a cartoonishly large head, which—combined with those big ol’ feet—make me think that his mobility is probably limited. Second, you must remember that the Jayhawk is a completely made-up bird (and the name actually comes from 19th-century pro-slavery advocates, which is, y’know, bad). I d0 give extra points for wearing an actual jersey, though. Fear Factor: 4.5

7. Louisville: Louie the Cardinal

APPEARANCE: 4.0 | DANGER: 4.5 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 6.5

We love to make fun of a Cardinal having teeth, but in this case, it’s an undeniable tactical advantage over the other birds. Louie is also clearly the angriest of the three, presumably due to years of losing to Kentucky, which makes him unpredictable. To stop this bird, you’d need a mobile, lock-down defender, or at least a sturdy net. Fear Factor: 5.0

TIER TWO: The Angry Men

6. Detroit: Tommy the Titan

APPEARANCE: 2.5 | DANGER: 7.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 6.0

If I had to guess, I’d say Tommy the Titan is not an intellectual giant. However, he is armed. His armor, sword and shield combine for a strong defensive game, albeit one without any much lateral quickness. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Fear Factor: 5.2

5. Notre Dame: The Leprechaun

APPEARANCE: 6.0 | DANGER: 6.5 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 6.0

What he loses in height, he makes up for in quickness, spirit and sick green duds. The Notre Dame leprechaun is the only supernatural being on this list, and as such, must be treated with caution. But with that said, I’ll take my chances with a short bearded guy in tights over dangerous animals. Fear Factor: 6.2

TIER THREE: The Wild Animals

4. UCLA: Joe Bruin

APPEARANCE: 5.5 | DANGER: 8.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 6.5

Don’t be fooled by Joe’s cuddly appearance—he’s a killer. Think DeMarcus Cousins in the post, if he weighed half a ton and had razor-sharp claws. That’s Joe Bruin. His only weaknesses are a clunky jumper and a tendency to be distracted by food. Fear Factor: 6.7

3. Georgia Tech: Buzz

APPEARANCE: 7.0 | DANGER: 7.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 6.5

I can’t quite put my finger on what makes the Georgia Tech yellow jacket so scary, but I’ve definitely seen that thing in my nightmares. Buzz is quick, mobile, and lethal when he gets in close to the basket. Come prepared with bug spray or you may end up swollen and defeated. Fear Factor: 6.8

2. Texas: Bevo

APPEARANCE: 7.5 | DANGER: 9.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 5.5

Texas is the only school on this list who still employs a live animal as a mascot, and boy is he a big lug. The latest in the long lineage of Longhorns in Austin, Bevo XV has only been on the job for four years, but he’s already built a reputation as one of the toughest mascots out there. If you don’t believe me, just ask Uga, the Georgia bulldog who he almost ran over at the Sugar Bowl in 2019. Oh, and good luck shooting over those horns. Fear Factor: 7.3

@berrygorda

TIER FOUR: The Freaks of Nature

1. Richmond: WebstUR

APPEARANCE: 9.5 | DANGER: 7.0 | BASKETBALL SKILL: 9.0

Man, what the hell is that?? Forget it, I’m out of here. Fear Factor: 8.5

Article written by Wynn McDonald

You fellas have nothing to worry about, I'm a professional. @twynstagram