When last we heard from PAWS Director of Companion Animal Services/chief hoop handicapper Kay Joubert, she incorrectly predicted that the University of New Mexico Lobos would defeat the University of Washington Huskies in the NCAA's round of 32. But in a tourney of so many busted brackets, we figured we'd give Joubert a shot at redemption, asking her specifically to gauge the chances of Butler's Bulldogs against Michigan State's Spartans, two five-seeds who'll square off to face either the Duke Blue Devils or the West Virginia Mountaineers on April 5.
The Bulldogs' susceptibility to joint and brain disease may doom them against Michigan State Saturday.
As you can see right there, it hasn't been a good year for wild animals in this year's tournament. In the quarterfinals, two sets of Wildcats (Kentucky and Kansas State) and a burly tribe of Bears (Baylor) got tripped up by either small dogs, Satan, ancient warriors, or hillbillies, thus ruining the chance for the Final Four to be a veritable animal kingdom.Only Butler's Bulldogs remain, and despite the fact that Indianapolis is this particular strain of bulldogs' native habitat (Butler is in Indy), Joubert's not quite sold on their prospects--of making it through the game without dropping dead. "While bulldogs are just adorable, with their funny walks and stout bodies, health-wise these dogs wouldn't be the best dogs to win in athletic competition. They're prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. They're also prone to cataracts, and obviously your eyesight is important in basketball. But the one that really got me is there's a disease that leaves fatty pigment on their brains, which causes brain dysfunction, which never sounds good. Sadly, what it can lead to in dogs is the death of nerve cells."
That said, Joubert does not sell short the qualities which have brought the Horizon League's Cinderella Bulldogs this far. "They're tenacious, they've got that powerhouse body. You set them on a course and they'll go until they can't breathe anymore -- literally. The fact that they made it this far says a lot about their tenacity."
Factor in the home Hoosier habitat, and Joubert begins to sound more bullish on the Bulldogs' chances of defeating Michigan State. "They're gonna know their turf and how to protect it. They'll have their scent markers all laid out, so they'll know when someone's coming at them."
But alas, Joubert cannot ignore the fact that these tiny, physically-challenged pups must wage war with a group of battle-tested humans possessing of body armor and swords. "Based on all [the Bulldogs'] genetic deficiencies, I'd have to say the Spartans [will win]," concludes Joubert. "Even though the Spartans have lost some major wars in their history, they're probably more vicious and have some tools that the Bulldogs wouldn't have, like opposable thumbs."