God’s Brackets

by Bob Schwartz

The second round game between Xavier and Notre Dame in the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament, played on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, led to questions: Does God have brackets, and in the case of two competing Catholic schools, does God have favorites? Does the deity decide whose prayers to answer (priests, players, coaches, administrators, gamblers, etc.), or is it strictly hands off? However that works, Xavier did beat Notre Dame.

This in turn led to considering just how many Catholic schools did start out in the first and second rounds of the tournament. The list includes their affiliation with various orders, in no way intended to suggest either educational or athletic advantage or superiority:

Creighton (Jesuit)
Georgetown (Jesuit)
Gonzoga (Jesuit)
Iona (Christian Brothers)
Loyola Maryland (Jesuit)
Marquette (Jesuit)
Notre Dame (Congregation of Holy Cross)
St. Bonaventure (Franciscan)
St. Louis (Jesuit)
St. Mary’s California (Lasallian)
Xavier (Jesuit)

Without drawing conclusions, leaving that to more discerning commentators and to sports and religion scholars seeking grist for the academic mill, here are a couple of stray stats for bracketologians:

Of this year’s 68 teams, 11 were from Catholic schools (about 16%).

There are 201 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S., not all of them in Division 1. About 5% of them went to the tournament.