NCAA

NCAA Tournament 2017: Ranking best and worst mascots of March Madness

NCAA Tournament 2017: Ranking best and worst mascots of March Madness

The 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket is all set and March Madness is ready to begin.

There are many ways to rank the field of 68 and even more ways to fill out your bracket.

But one of the most tried and true methods of bracket analysis is mascots.

Yes, mascots. Picking NCAA Tournament winners because of a university's mascot is easily the most well-respected method of bracket selection. 

It would be too easy to give you the answers, so we've decided to break down all the mascots by type. There will be upsets a plenty.

RELATED: THE FIVE 10-SEEDS OR WORSE THAT CAN MAKE THE SWEET 16

Stupid Animal Region:

9t. Villanova Wildcats — Wildcats are the most boring animal mascot on the planet.
9t. Kansas State Wildcats - See above
9t. Kentucky Wildcats — See above
9t. Arizona Wildcats — Did you not see above?
9t. Northwestern Wildcats — Northwestern's first-ever NCAA Tournament is marred by the fact that they're stupid barn cats.
8. SMU Mustangs — A horse of course.
6t. Texas Southern Tigers —Tigers are the rare combination of "Awww, look at the kitty" and "Owww, look at what it did to my large intestine."
6t. Princeton Tigers — At least Princeton's colors are the same colors as a tiger. So there's that.
5. Nevada Wolfpack — Meh.
4. UCLA Bruins — Bears are cool, but I don't buy for a second that a bear could make it in Hollywood.
3. Cincinnati Bearcats — A bearcat is actually a binturong, a freakishly ugly cat-like beast that emits an odor that smells like buttered popcorn to ward off predators. 
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs — PUPPY!
1. Baylor Bears — The total package among basic animals. Bears can run fast, rip a human torso in half and enjoy fresh blueberries and honey.


Stupid Bird Region:

11t. NC Central Eagles — The Eagle is a symbol of freedom, yet the second-most unoriginal animal mascot on the planet. 
11t. Winthrop Eagles — See above
11t. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles  — Florida Gulf Coast could have gone with any of a number of region-specific and remarkably unique animals: Manatee, Egret, Fiddler Crab, Alligator, Turtle, Sailfish, etc. The list goes on and on. Florida Gulf Coast chose to go with Eagle. For shame.
10. Marquette Golden Eagles — Golden animals > non-golden animals. 
9. Louisville Cardinals — Cardinals are stupid birds
8. North Dakota Warhawks — Hawks are mean birds. All hawks are essentially warhawks. It's a cool nickname until you get down to the root of it all. That's when you realize it's kinda meh
7. Virginia Tech Hokies — A hokie is a turkey and turkeys are mean and nasty birds. The best turkey is an oven-roasted turkey (Or a deep fried turkey).
5t. South Carolina Gamecocks — Cocky is annoying. There, we said it.
5t. Jacksonville State Gamecocks — Jacksonville is not a state and their mascot is named Cocky. (See above)
​4. Oregon Ducks — The Oregon Duck doesn't officially have a name, nor does it officially wear pants. 
3. Creighton Bluejays — The Bluejay is a menacing bird despite its small size. 
2. UNC Wilmington Seahawks — It's easy to dislike seahawks because of the Seattle species, but it's a rarity in college, which makes it a refreshing choice here. 
1. Kansas Jayhawks - A Jayhawk is a cross between a hawk and a blue jay. Plus, gotta give some bonus points for the a mascot that has miniature mascot offspring. 


RELATED: WIN FLOOR SEATS WITH CSN'S BRACKET CHALLENGE


Less-Stupid Animal Region:

12. Vermont Catamouts — It's fun to say "Catamount." Don't think about it though, because you will then remember that it's nothing more than your average mountain lion. 
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers — A unique type of mascot, but don't think about it, because you will then remember that gophers are a nuisance. 
10. Maryland Terrapins - Having a turtle for a mascot is very cool. But Testudo has overstayed his welcome.
9. Arkansas Razorbacks — Razorbacks are wild pigs. Freakishly strong, disease-carrying wild pigs. No thank you.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels — Ramsese is one of the most terrifying yet cool mascots in the country.
7. Rhode Island Rams — Rams are cool animals. They're dumb, for sure. But they are very cool. 
6. Michigan Wolverines — Wolverines are freakishly strong animals and we've heard that "Logan" was a very good movie. 
5. VCU Rams — You don't want to go to war with the Rams.
4. Florida Gators — Alligators are among the most intimidating animals on planet Earth. But the Florida Gator wears a turtleneck, so you know he is, at a very minimum, capable of basic social interaction.
3. Bucknell Bison — One of only two singular animal mascots in the field of 68. Bison are majestic animals and it's just a fun name to say.
3. Wisconsin Badgers — Badgers are cute yet absolutely menacing. Also, Bucky Badger either no neck or the best turtleneck game ever.
2. South Dakota State Jackrabbits — The crop-destroying, too-much-sex-having lagomorphs are a real-life nuisance but a rarity in the mascot kingdom. 
1. Butler Bulldogs — The bulldog is a generic nickname. But look at this puppy! Live mascots > fake mascots. That is a good dog. 16/10. Would pet.


 

WHAT ARE YOU! Region:

5. Iowa State Cyclones — A cyclone is not a bird, but Iowa State's mascot is a bird, so, well, here we are. 
4. Kent State Golden Flashes — Great nickname, bird mascot. Did we not JUST GO OVER THIS?
3. Miami Hurricanes — The Hurricanes get the nod over the Cyclones and Golden Flashes because Sebastian is an Ibis, a region-specific bird that also looks scary as heck.
2. Dayton Flyers — This is a tough one because it's a great nickname but their mascot looks like the last person you would ever want to get in an airplane with.
1. Wichita State Shockers — Considering the mascot is a strand of wheat, it's incredible how awesome "Shockers" are. One of the best nicknames in the country.


Angry People Region:

11. Seton Hall Pirates — There are so many different types of pirates and sea-going folk. It is unacceptable to settle on just "The Pirates," when so many better options are available.
10. Oklahoma State Cowboys — See above. 
9. Xavier Musketeers — Xavier has two mascots. One is a musketeer. The other is a blue blob. That is dumb.
8. Virginia Cavaliers —Cavalier King Charles Spaniel > Cavalier Mascot > Chevy Cavalier
7. Troy Trojans — Troy Trojans sounds incredibly redundant.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish — Basically just an angry Gael. 
5. Michigan State Spartans — Not a huge fan of the Spartan nickname, but it's hard not to like "Sparty."
4. Southern Cal Trojans — One of the best live mascots in the country.
3. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders — He's blue and if he were green he would die. 
2. East Tennessee State Buccaneers — The one gripe here is that Tennessee is most definitely a landlocked state. How on earth are there buccaneers in Tennessee?
1. New Orleans Privateers — Second-best nickname in the tournament, and it's not very close.


Less Angry People Region:

13. New Mexico State Aggies — Agricultural engineers. Really, that's what you decided to go with?
12. UC Davis Aggies — NEEEEEEEERRRRRRRD!
11. Mt. St. Mary's Mountaineers — Trust us when we tell you this: There are no mountains in Maryland.
10. Providence Friars — "Friar" sounds like a cool nickname, but take a look at the mascot. Nooooooope.
9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons — An angry priest... I'm so scared. 
8. Duke Blue Devils — On what planet is Hell blue? 
7. West Virginia Mountaineers — There are mountains in West Virginia, and this guy has a gun. We cool. 
5t. Saint Mary's Gaels — It's a cool nickname that you don't see too often. But it's really nothing more than an Irish person.
5t. Iona Gaels — Irish people have neat facial hair.
4. Vanderbilt Commodores — A Commodore is basically a rich boat owner. hard pass.
​3. Purdue Boilermakers — A boilermaker is both 1) a type of alcoholic beverage and 2) A steel and iron engineer. We're cool with that.
2. Florida State Seminoles — Their mascot is a guy with a flaming spear who rides on a horse named "Renegade." We're cool with that.
1. Northern Kentucky Norse — Best nickname in the tournament, and it's not even close.


 

2018 Bubble Watch: Teams are lining up on the edge of the bubble

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 Bubble Watch: Teams are lining up on the edge of the bubble

The 2018 bubble watch has been relatively subdued with the plethora of upsets throughout the latter half of the college basketball season. At the same time, teams that are providing these upsets have slowly worked themselves from being a question mark at the bubble to now solidly in the tournament (ie. Virginia Tech).

Of the major conferences, the Big Ten is up in the air on how the end of February/ beginning of March will play out. Remember, to host their tournament in Madison Square Garden, the conference elected to move it a week earlier than the rest of the power leagues. Will it affect how many teams they have in the big dance? Right now they have four teams in but two more are hovering at the bubble.

READ MORE: BRACKETOLOGY ROUND-UP, RIGHT NOW SYRACUSE IS IN

Aside from the Big Ten, several other teams are striding the line. Many of which have done so all season long. 

Of the teams listed, they are battling for roughly 10 spots in the field of 68.

All rankings and records are as of Thursday, Feb. 22 at 12:00 pm

Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 Big 12)
RPI: 32     BPI: 43      KenPom: 43    SOS: 12
Could Trae Young’s Oklahoma actually miss the NCAA Tournament? Yes. The Sooners have dropped six straight games and nine of their last 11. Yes, they have racked up the most high-quality wins in the country, but they are in a tailspin. They have beaten Kansas, TCU twice, Texas Tech, and Wichita State, but some of their losses are bad and they are piling up. Of their final three regular season games, two are against bubble teams that are desperate for a respectable win. If they lose out and then don’t make it past the first round of the Big 12 tournament, they are 16-15 (6-12).

St. Mary’s (CA) (25-4, 14-2 WCC)
RPI: 29     BPI: 20      KenPom: 22     SOS: 137
Early season losses to Georgia and Washington State are not as okay as they appeared back in non-conference play. Added to it was their surprising loss to San Francisco has now put the Gaels falling down the slide. Its hard to imagine though a 25-4 team not making the tournament.

Kansas State (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
RPI: 55      BPI: 47     KenPom: 46     SOS: 73
The Kansas State Wildcats are your typical bubble team. They have beaten everyone in the Big 12 aside from the ranked teams.  They have some good wins but lack a high quality or ‘Quadrant 1’ victory. Their win over Texas on Feb. 21 give them a head-to-head over another team attempting to steal a bubble spot.

Providence (17-11, 8-7 Big East)
RPI: 37     BPI: 72      KenPom: 69     SOS: 20
Being in the Big East will always give a team a strong SOS, but the Providence Friars have lost to teams they should not have. While they have impressive wins over Xavier and Villanova at home, they have a DePaul loss at home that counters one of those wins. Their looming contest against Xavier has now developed into a must-win on Feb. 28.

NC State (19-9, 9-6 ACC)
RPI: 57     BPI: 51      KenPom: 50     SOS: 61
A team that has benefited from a strong conference has been the Wolfpack from NC State. Out of the ACC, NC State had a horrid schedule and even dropped games against Northern Iowa and UNC Greensboro.  However, they have made up for that with some of the most impressive wins in the ACC. They beat Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina on the road to climb back to the bubble watch.

Baylor (17-11, 7-8 Big 12)
RPI: 59     BPI: 37      KenPom: 36     SOS: 23
Beating Kansas and Texas Tech at home are really the only reasons the Baylor Bears are in consideration at the bubble. But, they are in the deepest conference in college basketball this season, which gives them a ton of decent wins that they can add to their resume. The Bears realistically have to win out to get into the dance.

St. Bonaventure (21-6, 11-4 A10)
RPI: 25     BPI:  58     KenPom: 68     SOS: 91
As a borderline bubble team, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have followed that with a nine-game winning streak and a crucial victory over Rhode Island. As long as the Bonnies take care of their own business and make no worse than the semis in the A10 Tournament, they should be good. Guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley are overdue for a tournament berth.

READ ALSO: AP POLL SHAKES UP THE TOP 10

Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 ACC)
RPI: 46     BPI: 52      KenPom: 51     SOS: 22
A month and a half ago, the Syracuse Orange had no business being in the bubble conversation. Still, their four best wins are over Miami, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and then Buffalo. They have some work to do in their final three weeks.

Louisville (18-10, 8-7 ACC)
RPI: 52     BPI: 35      KenPom: 37     SOS: 29
The Louisville Cardinals are in a worse spot than Syracuse, they only have one would be ‘Quadrant 1’ win at Florida State from nearly two months ago. With all the drama surrounding this program through the entire 2017-18 season, you have to give it to David Padgett for keeping them in the race.

USC (20-9, 11-5 Pac-12)
RPI: 36     BPI: 50      KenPom: 52     SOS: 49
The Pac-12 could be in extreme trouble. If USC does not make the push into the NCAA Tournament, there will only be two teams from that conference dancing. With an interesting resume, there is not much that jumps off the Trojans record. Then again, there isn’t much that takes away from it either.

UCLA (19-8, 10-5 Pac-12)
RPI: 47     BPI: 60      KenPom: 54     SOS: 66
Their win over Arizona solidified their claim to the bubble. Win-out situation upcoming for the Bruins who have been hurt by a weak Pac-12.

Texas (16-12, 6-9 Big 12)
RPI: 54     BPI:  39     KenPom: 41     SOS: 16
The Longhorns have such a good schedule. They’ve played all of their games close, but few close games against high-quality teams have translated to wins.

Marquette (16-11, 7-8 Big East)
RPI: 58     BPI: 45      KenPom: 48     SOS: 18
The Golden Eagles were sitting pretty until a four-game losing streak and a loss to St. John’s took them out of the conference race. Not much room for error with Marquette as they move closer to Selection Sunday.

Nebraska (21-9, 12-5 Big Ten)
RPI: 60     BPI: 61      KenPom: 57     SOS: 101
A win against Michigan and a six-game winning streak in the Big Ten has the Cornhuskers alive despite a sub-.500 SOS. They still need a Big Ten tournament upset to get in.

Washington  (18-9, 8-6 Pac-12)
RPI: 48     BPI: 109   KenPom: 95     SOS: 37
The only reason the Washington Huskies are in this conversation is because they beat Arizona and Arizona State back-to-back.

Utah (17-9. 9-6 Pac-12)
RPI: 49     BPI: 70      KenPom: 60     SOS: 65
Another bubble team that hasn’t done much. They’ve won the games they should have and only have snagged an upset on Arizona State.

Other teams:

Florida (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
RPI: 64     BPI: 34      KenPom: 29     SOS: 39

Georgia (15-12, 6-9 SEC)
RPI: 70     BPI: 84      KenPom: 71     SOS: 48

LSU (16-11, 7-8 SEC)
RPI: 74     BPI: 64      KenPom: 63     SOS: 47

Temple (15-12, 7-8 AAC)
RPI: 44     BPI: 83      KenPom: 85     SOS: 9

 

Games to Watch This Week:

UCLA at Utah 2/22 – 9:00 pm (ESPN)

Baylor at TCU 2/24 – 12:00 pm (ESPN2)

LSU at Georgia 2/24 – 2:00 pm (ESPNU)

Louisville at Virginia Tech 2/24 pm – 1:00 pm (CBS)

Syracuse at Duke 2/24 – 6:00 pm (ESPN)

Kansas State at Oklahoma 2/24 – 6:00 pm (ESPN2)

No. 12 Auburn vs. Florida 2/24 – 8:30 pm (SECN)

Penn State at Nebraska 2/25 – 5:15 pm (BTN)

NC State at Florida State 2/25 – 6:00 pm (ESPNU)

Oklahoma at Baylor 2/27 – 9:00 pm (ESPN2)

Davidson at St. Bonaventure 2/27 – 9:00 pm (CBSSN)

Providence at No. 4 Xavier 2/28 – 6:30 pm (FS1)

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

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USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology Round-up: Who’s hot and ignoring the bubble

Now is the time that teams need to make their late season push. Whether a team is in the tournament or otherwise, the games now matter more than ever.

Yet, it is the teams solidly in the field that have been slipping as of late. Rarely have we seen losses from teams on the bubble.

The last 10 days saw the four teams that many assumed were locks for a No. 1 seed all fall to an unranked opponent. None of the falls being quite as bad as Purdue’s who suffered through a three-game losing streak. Nearly across the whole board the Boilermakers only dropped to a No. 2 seed, but their margin for error is a lot smaller than many of the teams around them.

READ ALSO: VIRGINIA REMAINS No. 1 AS TOP 25 IS RE-SHUFFLED

Other Big Ten schools continue to rise with strong showings in conference play. Ohio State is now getting some love as a No. 4/ No. 5 seed and Michigan is not too far off either. The Spartans of Michigan State have begun to leapfrog teams that passed them in January as they are on the No. 2/ No. 3 seed line. 

Texas Tech rode a seven-game winning streak to now a emerge as a contender for the top-8 seeds in the tournament. Auburn has also snuck into that conversation as well.

The Virginia Cavaliers remained as the near-unanimous No. 1 overall seed from the following bracketologists. They rebounded with a solid road win at Miami this past week.

For these reasons, no one is worried about who is in and who is out of the tournament, unless of course your team is involved. The drama around the bubble, for now, is subdued.

For the mid-major fans, Wichita State (now in the AAC) is in the mix as well for a favorable seed. They grabbed their best win of the season at Cincinnati on Feb. 18 in a ‘prove-it’ contest for both teams.

But with all of the lesser Power 5 teams winning against top-tier opponents, it is not helping many mid-majors that are floating around the bubble. St. Bonaventure, Temple, and even St. Mary’s basically all face win-out situations.

RELATED: BUBBLE WATCH FOR THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

These projections are based on their latest bracket as of Feb. 19.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Tennessee

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Baylor, Texas, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, USC, Washington, and Nebraska

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Savannah State
No. 10: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 7 Alabama

Dave Ommen (NBC Sports/ Yahoo/ Bracketville):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Purdue
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Washington, Baylor, St. Bonaventure, and Syracuse
First Four out: UCLA, LSU, Louisville, and Marquette

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Southern/ Savannah State
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma

Shelby Mast (USA-Today):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Ohio State

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Clemson

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Wichita State

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 North Carolina
No. 3 Arizona
No. 4 Tennessee

Last Four in: St. Mary’s (CA), St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, and Washington
First Four out: LSU, Marquette, UCLA, and Utah

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Wagner
No. 9: Virginia Tech (Midwest, at-large) vs. No. 8 Michigan
Maryland (“On Life Support”)

Chris Dobbertean (SB Nation) – Updated on 2/16:

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Tennessee

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Kansas
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Gonzaga

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 West Virginia

West Region:
No. 1 Auburn
No. 2 Texas Tech
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Louisville, UCLA, Texas, and Baylor
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, USC, Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ)
No. 10: Virginia Tech (at-large)
Maryland (also considered)

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports):

East Region:
No. 1 Villanova
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 Cincinnati
No. 4 Gonzaga

Midwest Region:
No. 1 Xavier
No. 2 Auburn
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Wichita State

South Region:
No. 1 Virginia (No. 1 overall)
No. 2 Michigan State
No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 4 Tennessee

West Region:
No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Purdue
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Arizona

Last Four in: Texas, Butler, Florida, and Syracuse
First Four out: Baylor, Utah, Washington, and Louisville

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (South, ACC Champ) vs. No. 16 Nicholls St./ Prairie View A&M
No. 9: Virginia Tech (West, at-large) vs. No. 8 Arkansas

Delphi Bracketology (Most accurate bracket projection of past two years – Updated 2/17):

No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Xavier, Villanova, and Purdue
No. 2 seeds: Kansas, Purdue, Duke, and Texas Tech
No. 3 seeds: Michigan State, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Clemson
No. 4 seeds: Tennessee, Arizona, West Virginia, Gonzaga

Last Four in: Texas, Baylor, Louisville, UCLA
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, LSU Temple, and Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1 overall: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 9: Virginia Tech (at-large)

Local Rundown:

It is clear that Virginia’s loss to Virginia Tech will chalk up as just a blemish on an otherwise outstanding tournament resume. The Cavalier’s made that clear with their second half in Coral Gables on Saturday.

The top defensive team in the country does have some wiggle room as they close out the 2017-18 season with the madness from the teams behind them. A loss or two will not move them off the No. 1 line, and depending on which team, they might even maintain the top seed.

Virginia Tech, the team that beat the Cavaliers, is taking advantage of the upsets across the NCAA. Paired with their upset win, they went from a borderline bubble team to a No.9/ No. 10 seed. What does make things difficult for them is that their final four games are against three NCAA tournament teams and a bubble team in Louisville.

They honestly are going to need some other teams to fall or themselves to pull out some monster upsets to stay on the good side of the bubble.

With losses to Penn State and Nebraska, the Maryland Terrapins odds to get into the dance are all but vanquished. Only two bracketologists even mentioned the Terps in their analysis. However, they are not entirely out of it with their schedule and a small run in the Big Ten tournament. There remains a small chance, ever so slight. 

The rest of the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) is going to have to rely on upsets in conference tournaments to get more teams in. Keep an eye on these teams as they try and ride momentum into March: Old Dominion (21-5, 12-2 C-USA), VCU (15-2, 7-7 A-10), William & Mary (16-11, 9-7 CAA), Towson (18-11, 8-8 CAA), Radford (17-12, 10-6 Big South), and Mount St. Mary’s (16-13, 10-6 NEC), Navy (19-10, 10-6 Patriot).