Lent Madness takes on March Madness

Here at Lent Madness we were shocked to learn that there is some other bracket competition that takes place this time of year. Apparently it involves an orange orb referred to as a "basketball." Not ready to leave brackets to the whims of others, we have done a saintly analysis of this other March endeavor.

What follows is the Official Lent Madness Bracket Analysis For Tournaments Taking Place During March That Do Not Involve Saints.

When you examine the NCAA basketball tournament from a saintly perspective, three categories emerge: The Obvious, The Perhaps, and The Give Me A Break.


Let’s start with The Obvious. Here are the teams encompassing overt saintly references. You can’t deny the influence of the holy when looking at these teams:

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. As everyone knows, she is featured in the 2017 Lent Madness bracket and will face Sarah the Matriarch on March 21.

St. Mary's College (Gaels) -- Located in Moraga, California, this school is run by the Roman Catholic De La Salle Christian Brothers (founded by   the French Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle).

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 Celtic saints often do very well in Lent Madness so it balances out.

Xavier University (Musketeers) — This institution is named for St. Francis Xavier, the Spanish Jesuit who was co-founder of the Society of Jesus.

Southern Methodist University (Mustangs) — When you put “Methodist” in the name, you are clearly a religious institution. Plus, Charles Wesley is a former Golden Halo winner.

Villanova University (Wildcats) — Named for Saint Thomas Villanova, 16th century Spanish friar.

Providence College (Friars) — The school moniker is a synonym for heaven. Plus they get extra credit for invoking Friar Tuck in their mascot.

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.

Iona College (Gaels) — This New Rochelle, New York, school was named for the isle of Iona, on which St. Columba founded his famous abbey.


Schools in The Perhaps category may have some redeeming saintly qualities. Or perhaps not:

Creighton University (Blue Jays) -- Another Jesuit school, this one is located in Omaha, Nebraska. Not sure why they're the Blue Jays rather than the "Cardinals," which would be more ecclesiastically appropriate.

University of North Carolina (Tar Heels) — The Carolinas (north and south) were named for Charles I of England (Carolus is Latin for Charles). While Charles is commemorated by some Anglicans as Charles the Martyr, he is not on the official calendar of the Episcopal Church.

University of Louisville (Cardinals) — The city in Kentucky is not named for St. Louis the IX of France. No, it’s named for Louis XVI — who is not a saint. HOWEVER the mascot is named for an ecclesiastical order of the Roman Catholic Church.

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.

Wake Forest University (Demon Deacons) -- Points added for naming the team after an historic ecclesiastical order of ministry. Points deducted for making them "demonic."

University of California at Los Angeles (Bruins) -- The Bruins hail from the City of Angels. So they have an angelic connection.


Teams falling under The Give Me a Break rubric shouldn’t be listed here at all. Yet here they are:

Princeton University (Tigers) -- Well, the first president of Princeton was Jonathan Edwards, the famous preacher of 18th century Great Awakening fame.

University of Maryland (Terps) — This would be listed under “The Obvious” except that the state is not actually named for the Virgin Mary. Rather for King Charles I of England’s wife Queen Henrietta Maria (Queen Mary).

University of Virginia (Cavaliers) — Ditto. Virginia was not named for the Virgin Mary but for Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.”

Virginia Commonwealth University (Rams) — At first glance, the VCU mascot would be more at home in Los Angeles or St. Louis or wherever it is the NFL team of the same name currently resides. 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 (See also University of Rhode Island Rams).

Duke University (Blue Devils) — It doesn’t matter how many games or titles Coach K has won. Your team is named after (a blue-tinted plural version of) Satan.

University of Florida (Gators) -- When European explorer Juan Ponce de Leon Easter "discovered" this territory in 1513, he landed during Easter season which is why he christened it "Florida" or "land of flowers." (See also Florida State University Seminoles).

If your Lent Madness bracket has been hopeless busted, you may well decide to fill out the “other” bracket. Go ahead. And if you enter an office pool, we definitely suggest you use this analysis to decide all your picks. Or at least invoke St. Matthias, the unofficial patron saint of gambling (he was chosen to be an apostle by the casting of lots).


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72 comments on “Lent Madness takes on March Madness”

      1. We can tell that Elaine escaped having been educated by Catholic nuns. (And -- before any Catholic umbrage taking begins -- I am an Associate of an order of Roman Catholic nuns) They would have encouraged her to "offer up" this perceived dearth of Tuesday entertainment (in her wing of the Lent Madness mansion, at least) for the poor souls in purgatory. Thus turning it into actual grace. The way the nuns had it worked out, everything turns into a lenten win-win. You don't like what's going on? Bingo. (What else, in Catholicism?) You've got virtue piling up faster than coins in Tetzel's box. You do like what's going on? Awesome. You win.

      2. I, for one, would like a change to the web site so that I can click a link to "today's" saintly battle. I've been a computer geek since BEFORE there was a World Wide Web and I've designer web sites for over 30 years. Therefore I believe that I am somewhat justified by stating that the Lent Madness web site navigation system SUCKS. Can you please fix it.

        1. Thank you! I have also found it frustrating... unless the purpose is to lead us gently into learning new things during the search for immediate gratification.

        2. I also was geek for 28 years before I retired and was a web developer for the last 15 or so years of my career. There is nothing wrong with your navigation. If you are truly using LM as a lenten discipline, the navigation makes perfect sense. yes, I know, you read the book. But rereading it, as well as reading the commentary and the missives of your fellow lentmadlians is helpful as well. All hail the SEC.

    1. As a graduate of Duke University, I would like to point out that the name Blue Devils is intended to convey the message that evil (symbolized by the Devil) leads to unhappiness (symbolized by Blue), even in this world. A sombre message, no doubt, but true.

      1. "During World War I, the Chasseurs Alpins—nicknamed "les Diables Bleus"—were well-known French soldiers. They first gained attention when their unique training and alpine knowledge was counted upon to break the stalemate of trench warfare in their native region of the French Alps." Veteran Duke students returning after WW I adopted the name in a mascot competition, notwithstanding concern that it would not be well-received by the Methodist Church which sponsored the school at the time. See https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/uarchives/history/articles/bluedevil Go Duke!

      2. Thanks for the Duke Blue Devils explanation. As a former Methodist -- note: not UMC -- I have always questioned that mascot name! (I am an alumna of Pfeiffer College, now University, another GREAT Methodist school in Carolina. And as we know, THIS Carolina needs no directional adjective!)

      3. Duke University (Blue Devils) — It doesn’t matter how many games or titles Coach K has won. Your team is named after (a blue-tinted plural version of) Satan.

        No, it is not!

        See other references above!

        Also, no longer Methodist.

        I would like to comment that Coach K, Coach Cutcliffe, and the Athletic Director are all practicing Catholics (as opposed to already perfect Catholics.) LOL

  1. Check with Mike Kinman about March Gladness -- a fund raiser for your favorite charity.
    Here's how it works.
    STEP 1 - click here - https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/group/29704 - and go to the March Gladness Yahoo page and sign up.
    *The site requires getting a Yahoo ID. Yahoo IDs are FREE, take only a minute to sign up for, and don't result in you getting a bunch of spam. No worries.
    *Make sure you put your NAME and THE NONPROFIT YOU ARE PLAYING FOR as your team name ... otherwise we won't know where to send the money when you win!. (Example - Mike Kinman - Magdalene-STL)
    STEP 2 - Click here (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr…) and pay $10 a bracket.
    STEP 3 - Spread the word and invite your friends. The more people enter, the more your favorite nonprofit gets.
    STEP 4 - Watch. Cheer. Win!
    At the end of the tournament, ALL money donated will be given to the nonprofits with the following distribution:
    1st place - 50%
    2nd place - 25%
    3rd place - 15%
    4th place - 10%
    So follow the steps, have a great time, enjoy the tournament ... and spread a little gladness around to people who need it the most.
    Happy March Gladness, everyone!

    The Rev. Mike Kinman

  2. Occasionally (VERY occasionally!) a basketball game is won on a successful three-point shot from beyond mid-court in the final second of a game. I don't know whether this has ever been called a "Hail Mary" shot, however. (Are there such folks as "Non-fighting Irish"?)

  3. You might explain "tarheels." And the difference betwixt friars and monks.
    And WHY I can't order a Julian soup bowl online.
    I'm as Associate of the Order, for heaven's sake! And I have two cats! Obviously I need a mug!

    1. Can't speak to the Lentorium orders. Do know I inadvertently offended the Wolf Pack by greeting my NC friends as "Tar heels," when I meant residents of a state, not college alum!! -- Oooops!

  4. I just love this veering off into a completely foreign area that may influence some folk to consider being mad for LENT for a change. As the late great "Fats" Waller said eons ago: "One never knows, do one?"
    Now, to go back and do today's LENT MADNESS.

  5. Some teams alluded to Episcopal Church influences/connections; many did not but I read into them 🙂

    This is so much fun. Who needs facebook during Lent?

  6. As a graduate of St. Mary's, I have to go with the Gaels. But soon we begin the Women's March Madness which includes many of the same teams with the addition of DePaul, Marquette and probably others with whose provenance I am not familiar. Plus it has a typical LM matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina!

  7. What you don't seem to realize is that basketball is a religion in Kansas. During Basketball March Madness meetings are cancelled, very few people schedule weddings, and we all try our best not to die in March. Basketball inventor Naismith (used peach baskets in the first games) taught at Kansas University and his handwritten rules for the game are enshrined in their own building. And, not to be outdone, Kansas STATE University celebrates the color purple all year. Purple hair, purple ice cream, purple cocoa--you name it, it's purple.

    1. Jesus' disciples ate grain from the fields so they would identify with the Wichita State Wheatshockers. However my son is a Kansas State Wildcat so Go Big Purple!

  8. I need to write again. Just what does March madness have to do with Lent. I was so disappointed when I opened my email, and saw this ridiculous post. Please stick to the saints from now on.,please.

  9. Um...Elaine...I think the SEC may have come up with the idea of Lent Madness from March Madness if I remember...

  10. You left out Kansas which is obviously the best team and has the longest tradition of any of the above. I'm sure we have a few saints thrown in there somewhere!

  11. Just to offer a different viewpoint, I love the humor of this post. I can always use a laugh and this post gave made me chuckle. So thank you, SEC for this afternoon humor break.

  12. I appreciate your wacky sense of humor wherever it leads. So much better than an ear worm. Can anyone sing "Waltzing Matilda"? Was she waltzing or being waltzed? Is there a St. Matilda?

    1. If I recall rightly, "Matilda" is Aussie for a matress. And waltzing is being a hobo? -- Can you tell I just got off a silent retreat??? Perhaps I'd better stop and go to bed???

  13. In the years to come, the name of the Rev. Timothy Schenk will be included in a Lent Madness entry as the Saint of Wit. Thanks, Tim. This was great, as is all of Lent Madness. PS: Currently uncertain what Scott will be saint of. Suggestions?

  14. Answer to Question 1 - A LOT of peeople care about basketball!!! :- ) Thanks so much for your very witty and humorous take on the crossover--We love our SEC!!

  15. GO BLUE DEVILS, SATANIC OR NOT! And never mind: THE GIVE ME A BREAK category. Our two children are Duke grads. A lot "invested."

  16. As a Bruin I was surprised to see UCLA listed. For future reference here is the full name of the city in which UCLA is located. The name is an abbreviation from the original name of the place. The original name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula" (in English, "town of our lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula"). Los Angeles was founded in 1781. (Google)

    1. May I point out that the University of Southern California is also in the city of Los Angeles, so if UCLA is qualified as hailing "from the city of angels", so is USC.

  17. And what about the Women's brackets? Basketball March Madness includes the other half of the population. Go Stanford!

  18. As always, thank you for the, um... education. Yeah, that's it: education! It's a nice break from the usual. I only hope that some day one of our Oregon teams makes the cut because I'd LOVE to hear the connection to either Beavers or Ducks!

    Carry on.

    1. The 'ucks made the March Madness, see upper right quadrant of NCAA men's bracket. The Beavers did not.

      (Grumpy lives in Portland, btw.)

      But a little school history re: Oregon State. Oregon State University née Oregon State College née Oregon State Agricultural College, was originally founded not by the great State of Oregon (which did sadly err in starting that other school down in Eugene) but by the American Baptist Church. (And when Lent is over I'll gladly share my 'uck jokes. Being BFFs with Bennie Beaver at age three means you start accumulating them early.) 😉

      Now on to the best school to make the March Madness Bracket - Southern Methodist University! Before my alma mater were the Mustangs, they were the Parsons.

      PONY UP!
      S M U
      S M U
      S M U
      Go Red!
      Go Blue!
      Go S M U!

      1. The bracketed comment about inserting a picture of Grumpy Cat did not appear above the line about where she lives.

        (Does George T Dog have something to do with this apparent anti-cat bias by the SEC?)

      2. Thank you for the information. Obviously, I'm not a big basketball fan, but as mother and mother-in-law of Oregon State grads, I know even less about those whom you call 'ucks. I can hardly wait to hear the jokes!

  19. Marvelous - lots of fun! Thank you! p.s. I've been sharing the Lent Madness bracket with basketball players - for those who don't see the connection between these two wonderful "observations" of Madness - watch how many players gesture heavenward as a sign of gratitude after making a basket.