Ducks face Billikens in March Madness mascot mayhem Saturday

EUGENE, Ore. - The fighting Ducks of Oregon face the Billikens of St. Louis University on Saturday, giving new meaning to March Madness.

A Billiken? What is a Billiken?

"It's like an evil Smurf," a former St. Louis student explained.

Somebody check Bill Walton's water bottle.

"Everyone agrees that the Billiken is a good-luck figure who represents 'things as they ought to be,' " according to Saint Louis University - or SLU for short.

"The designer of the Billiken also seems to be fact. Florence Pretz, a Missouri art teacher and illustrator, patented her 'design for an image' of the jovial creature in 1908.

"Manufactured in the early 1900s as a bank and statuette and was the national rage for about six months -- kind of that period's pet rock. During this time, the Billiken was turned into all sorts of things: dolls, marshmallow candies, metal banks, hatpins, pickle forks, belt buckles, auto hood ornaments, salt and pepper shakers and glass bottles."

Who knew?

"That's about where the certainty ends, however," SLU says of the Billiken.

"It is believed that Pretz found the name Billiken in a poem by the Canadian poet Bliss Carman and gave the name to her patented design, which she sold to the Billiken Company of Chicago. It is not confirmed if the firm acquired its name from the Billiken or if it was an established name before the company bought the rights from Pretz's invention.

"By 1912, the Billiken and its value as a good-luck charm were just memories for all except the loyal fans of Saint Louis University. How the Billiken became attached to the University is perhaps the primary debate."

Not unlike the Oregon Duck.