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Forget the Fighting Irish, let’s talk sports nicknames

So you might figure since this column is running on St. Patrick’s Day, that I’ll be talking about all things Irish.

Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m going to take one of my occasional glances at some of the more unusual nicknames of American university sports teams.

That’s right, it’s time for the NCAA basketball tournament, which means nicknames for me to peruse. Since Notre Dame didn’t make the tournament, I can’t even use the Fighting Irish connection to tie back to St. Patrick.

There are a few things missing from this year’s tournament, not least the Duke Blue Devils. They’re not here for the first time in 25 years because of COVID. They had a poor ‘regular’ season and basically needed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to get in. They won their first two games, then had a couple of people in the program test positive, and that was that.

So who is in this year?

Well, there’s a few teams flying high entering the tournament, like Morehead State, Winthrop and Eastern Washington, all of whom are nicknamed the Eagles; Oral Roberts, the Golden Eagles; and Hartford, who are the Hawks.

Another team that’s flying in a different way is Drexel, because they’re the Dragons. They may not be the hottest team in the tournament, because they may end up playing the Liberty Flames.

Two teams looking to scale the heights in this year’s tournament, which starts tomorrow by the way, are Mount St. Mary’s and Appalachian State, both of whom are Mountaineers.

There is also a first-time entry in this year’s tournament who also have a nickname never seen before. Please meet Grand Canyon University – the Antelopes.

Of course, the biggest news locally for university sports came last week, with the health authorities saying colleges and universities could be back on campus in September, so we will once again be able to talk about the UNBC Timberwolves on the pitch and the court.

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