3 of the Whackiest Teams Names in US College Basketball


3 of the Whackiest Teams Names in US College Basketball


The Gonzaga Bulldogs head into the 2022 March Madness season as the No. 1 seed following the selection committee’s reveal. The Auburn Tigers, Arizona Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks will make up the rest of the top four. All four have normal team names in the scheme of things, but a quick glance through the list of university teams reveals some more unusual monikers. Here are just three of the whackiest team names in US college basketball.

Akron Zips

Why on earth would you call your team the Zips? It’s a good question and one that does not have a straightforward answer. But according to the University, in 1927, a contest was held to name the institute’s athletic teams. A student name Margaret Hamlin thought it would be a good idea to name the sports teams after rubber shoes sold by a tire company (B.F. Goodrich) based in the town. The shoe was known as the Zipper and due to a lack of better ideas, the name 'The Zippers' stuck.  Later, in 1950, the name was shortened by athletic director Kenneth Red Cochrane to 'The Zips.'

In another inexplicable turn of events, the university chose a kangaroo as its mascot. The Zips have appeared in four NCAA Tournaments but have yet to win a game. In 2009, they met the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first round losing 77-64. The Bulldogs are this year's NCAAB March Madness favorites, priced at+450 ahead of the Wildcats at +800. The Zips' closest Championship game came in 1986 when they lost 70-64 to the second-ranked Michigan Wolverines.

Campbell Fighting Camels

If you thought Akron’s kangaroo mascot was confusing, then the Campbell Camels might leave you even more bemused. The team was originally known as the Hornets but became known as the Camels in 1934. No one knows the definitive reason for the name change, but there are many theories depending on who you speak to. The most plausible one is that 'Camel' is a common mishearing of the word Campbell. In fact, some people in the area pronounce the two words the same, so it may have been a kind of inside joke. That could explain the lack of any other documented reason for the switch. Campbell's only Division I conference championship came in 1992 when they won the Big South Conference to put them in the 1992 NCAAB Division I Tournament.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

If you have ever wondered what a Chanticleer is, you are not alone. Yet, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have a clear understanding of where their name comes from. Chanticleer is the name of a rooster that appears in Geoffrey Chaucer's ‘The Canterbury Tales.’ Chaucer was an English poet who lived in the 14th century and is sometimes referred to as the father of English literature. The bird in question features in The Nun's Priest's Tale and is captured by a fox but outsmarts it and escapes.

Coastal Carolina Logo
'Oh joy, teal and black' (CC BY 2.0) by wfyurasko

The team had been known as the Trojans until the 1960s when their English professor coach, Cal F. Maddox, proposed a name change along with a new mascot. The Chanticleer was from the same family as the Gamecock, the mascot of the university’s parent institution at the time. And so, the Chanticleers were born. The name and mascot give the university a unique identity in the college basket world.

Honorable mentions must go to the Idaho Vandals, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the Presbyterian College Blue Hose who named themselves after some socks.