Not even a ticket could get Butler's bulldog into the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Milwaukee.

Butler University may be playing in Saturday night's second round against Middle Tennessee State at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but the school's live mascot, a 5-year-old, 65-pound English bulldog named Butler Blue III, will be sitting this game out.

NCAA rules prohibit live mascots from making appearances during the early rounds of the tournament. If Butler gets to the Final Four, the school can petition to have the dog attend the festivities.

But never fear, Blue III, also known as Trip, is in town doing what he does best, charming kids and adults alike while making appearances on behalf of the Indianapolis-based school.

Like the Milwaukee Brewers unofficial mascot, Hank the Dog, Butler Blue is something of a marketing phenomenon, with a line of merchandise that includes hats, plush toy, shirts, even a children's book. He has thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Blue III has even appeared at birthday parties and a wedding.

But to Michael Kaltenmark, the dog's owner and handler and Butler's director of external relations, Blue III is a lovable member of the family.

"I describe him as spirited," Kaltenmark said Friday while sitting in a hotel lobby.

As Kaltenmark talked about Blue III, Evan Krauss, who works in the Butler communications office and calls himself the "secondary dog guy," helped a steady stream of fans pose for photos with the dog.

Blue III played hurt this year, out for nearly two months after surgery to repair a partially torn ACL. Physical therapy on an underwater treadmill really helped in the recovery. It's a good thing that Blue III has sponsors for food, transportation and veterinary care.