Apparently there’s some other bracket-style tournament that takes place this month. Who knew? And while the Lent Madness Legal Team considers its options, we thought we’d do a quick bracket analysis of the teams in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.
Where are the saints? Have they ever appeared in Lent Madness? Do people get upset when mystical teams take on modern teams? The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness dives into the fray.
St. Joseph University (Hawks) — Will the Hawks do better than St. Joseph did in Lent Madness 2016? As you will recall, our St. Joseph lost to Abasalom Jones in the Saintly Sixteen after defeating Christina Rossetti in the first round.
Xavier University (Musketeers) — Named for St. Francis Xavier, the 16th century Spaniard and co-founder of the Jesuits, Xavier University is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Lent Madness’ sponsor, Forward Movement.
Gonzaga University (Bulldogs) — Once the ultimate Cinderella and now a perennial basketball power, the “Zags” are named for St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a 16th century Italian Jesuit.
Seton Hall University (Pirates) — Located in South Orange, New Jersey, Seton Hall is named for Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. This former Episcopalian lost to Oscar Romero in Lent Madness 2013.
University of Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) — Any team named for “Our Lady” is obvious. Too bad there are no “Hail Mary” plays in basketball. The word “Fighting” is lamentable but Irish saints (Columba this year and Brigid of Kildare last year) often do very well in Lent Madness so it balances out.
Villanova University (Wildcats) — Named for Saint Thomas Villanova, 16th century Spanish friar.
Iona College (Gaels) — This New Rochelle, New York, school has a direct connection to Lent Madness 2016! It was named for the isle of Iona, on which St. Columba founded his famous abbey.
College of the Holy Cross (Crusaders) — This school in Worcester, Massachusetts, is named for the cross! Too bad they lose some street cred by calling their sports teams the “Crusaders” — not exactly the image we need these days.
Temple University (Owls) — Who wouldn’t give a hoot for a school named after the Temple? The only question is whether it will be destroyed or restored in the month ahead.
University of Virginia (Cavaliers) — You might think the state of Virginia is named for the Virgin Mary. But you’d be wrong. It was named for Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” At least Anglicans can cheer on the Elizabethan Settlement.
University of West Virginia (Mountaineers) — See above. And then remember how much time Jesus spent on mountaintops — praying by himself, Sermon on the Mount, Transfiguration, etc.
Hampton University (Pirates) — This historically black college in Hampton, Virginia, was founded by black and white leaders of the American Missionary Society in 1868 to provide education to freedmen. Rumor has it that Absalom Jones has his money on the Pirates this year.
Virginia Commonwealth (Rams) — At first glance, the VCU mascot would be more at home in Los Angeles where the NFL team of the same name is returning this year. HOWEVER the team is named for the animal caught in the thicket after God tells Abraham to stop the presses and not sacrifice his son Isaac after all.
Duke University (Blue Devils) — It doesn’t matter how many games or titles Coach K has won. Your team, no matter how you spin it, is named after (a blue-tinted plural version of) satan.
If your Lent Madness bracket has been hopelessly busted, you may well decide to fill out that “other” bracket. Go ahead. And if you enter an office pool, we definitely suggest you use this analysis to decide all your picks. Just make sure to tithe your winnings to the Supreme Executive Committee.