It’s that time of year again, folks- time when we Catholics move from this year’s historically unprecedented February into March sporting events that serve as a nice distraction and an excuse for short days at the office. The part of the men’s college basketball season that people actually watch is upon us, and one of my own individual traditions resumes: Bracketology 2013: Magisterial Fidelity Edition.
Each year, I pick my main bracket according to the following criteria:
1. In games between religious schools and nonreligious schools, the religious school is picked.
2. In games between Christian schools and schools with other religious affiliations, the Christian school is picked.
3. In games between Catholic schools and protestant schools, the Catholic school is picked.
4. In games between Catholic schools, the one with the highest degree of fidelity to the Magisterium is picked.
This year is trickier than most. We just elected the first ever Jesuit pope, and while many of the Jesuit colleges in this year’s bracket are about as loyal to the See of Peter as I am to sock brands, I’ve added one new criterium to this year’s bracket picking: in games involving matchups between a Jesuit school and a non-Jesuit school where there’s any ambivalence whatsoever, the Jesuits get a mulligan. But just one mulligan. I mean it.
Hence, in the tradition of Dwight D Eisenhower, who once quipped that “an atheist is someone who watches a Notre Dame-SMU game and doesn’t care who wins,” here are some of the key matchups I’ll be watching:
Midwest Round 1:
Gonzaga vs Cincinnati
I feel kinda bad that as a homer I have the Bearcats going down in the first round due to my aforementioned first criterium. I know many fine Catholics at UC, but allowing a large photographic display of lady parts on a campus commons a couple of weeks ago makes this decision easier. Bulldogs run away with it in the second half.
Midwest Round 2
St Mary’s vs Valparaiso
Our Lady of Victory propels the play-in Cinderellas over the largest Lutheran- run independent university in the country, posting 95 points on Valpo, one for each of the theses Luther posted on the Wittenberg door.
Creighton vs Duke
Always been confused why a school that boasts one of the top divinity programs in the country has Devils as their mascot. Get thee behind me! And back on the bus to Durham!
South Round 2:
San Diego State vs Georgetown
The Jesuit-run Hoyas got their mulligan against Florida Gulf Coast. The Aztecs advance.
Midwest Round 3:
Liberty vs St Louis
The university founded by Jerry Falwell well will fall to the St Louis Jesuits.
St Mary’s vs Creighton
Solely based on the fact that the bay city that hosts the Gaels is named after the same saint whose name was chosen by our new Holy Father, I’m giving this one to St Mary’s.
South Round 3
San Diego State vs University of California Los Angeles
“Know you not that the saints shall judge this world… know you not that we shall judge angels?” (I Cor 6:2-3) St. James, ora pro nobis!
Midwest Round 4:
St Louis vs St Mary’s
Billikins, you just got your last mulligan. St Mary’s advances.
South Round 4:
Villanova vs San Diego State
Okay, I’ll stop advancing a state university just because they’re named after a saint. Villanova gets this one and moves to the Final Four.
West Round 4:
Notre Dame vs Gonzaga
I know that there are good and bad elements at Notre Dame. I, for one, am a big fan of the good things going on at their Alliance for Catholic Education. As a matter of fact, most things at Notre Dame are pretty great except for their theology department. And given the load of hooey just put out by one of their profs, I’m giving this one to Gonzaga.
East Round 4:
Syracuse vs Marquette
William of Orange, or a school run by the religious order that produced Campion, Southwell and Walpole? Come rack! Come rope! Come Golden Eagles to the Final Four!
St Mary’s vs Gonzaga
A play-in team vs the squad some polls have at #1 overall headed into the tournament? This one’s a decision based on pure practicality. I have to at least beat one person in my pool. Zags move to the championship.
Villanova vs Marquette
Who doesn’t want to see two Jesuit schools in the game for all the marbles? Marquette it is!
Gonzaga vs Marquette
This was a tough one, but it ultimately comes down to this: while pioneer missionary Fr Jacques Marquette, SJ may one day be declared a saint, Aloysius Gonzaga was canonized almost 300 years ago. Well played, Zags, well played.
If you’ve managed to make it this far into my predictions, thank you. A final thought- this would have been a much less interesting bracket if the cardinals had elected a Dominican.