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. Don't forget the Wolverines! The founders of the University of Michigan in Detroit in 1817 were Fr. Gabriel Richard (Roman Catholic Priest) and Rev. John Monteith (Presbyterian Minister).

  2. I'm from Conneticut and a huge womens fan - go Huskies. My Lent Madness bracket sits next to my NCAA brackets on my side table ✝

  3. You forgot Baylor... the world's "largest Baptist University". We finally learned to dance there, in 1996. That has to count for *something*! 🙂 Maybe not the ability to "ball" but... no one's perfect.

  4. Gee you left off Mt Saint Mary's of Maryland. They are in it too - very small at the bottom center of the bracket. Mother Seton has a shrine there too.

  5. You've obviously forgotten that the full name of UNC(CH) is the University of North Carolina at CHAPEL HILL, named not only after a church but an Episcopal one at that.

    1. Spencer was my dorm. I studied in the Sunday School rooms of that Chapel (of the Cross) . Did not have to go far to get to church.

  6. This Duke alumna recalls that the university motto is "Eruditio et Religio," and Duke Chapel balances Krzyzewskiville as campus landmarks.

  7. As a Creighton alum I still live by the school's motto and creed as inspired by Saint Ignatius:
    Change the world in Christ’s image.
    Study humankind.
    Transform yourself and your community.
    Seek truth in all you do.
    Go forth and set the world on fire.
    (Go Jays!)

  8. One of the largest UMC congregations in the U.S. is on the SW corner of the SMU campus (the church membership exceeds the total number of students, faculty, and staff at SMU by a few thousand). Lots of prayers will be ascending on behalf of the SMU men's basketball team.

    And SMU has Peruna the Pony. He may look small and cute like most Shetland ponies, but one swift kick from a small-looking Mustang will (and actually has) put a huge Longhorn (named Bevo) on the ground.

  9. You missed Northwestern University and its first time ever in the brackets. Founded as a Methodist institution by Evans.