Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 14, 2007

Religion Lessons and March Madness

Once again the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is upon us—commonly known as March Madness for the fact that one loss brings the end for each of the entries causing a madness to pull out a victory. You may have also noticed a “madness” among your students who are engaged in filling out brackets and picking circling winners for games leading up to the championship game on April 2.

Of the sixty-five teams that began the tournament, nine were Catholic colleges. If you aren’t ready to pull your hair out with all the talk of basketball, you could build on this current event and build a lesson around it. To start off simply, ask the students to circle the Catholic colleges on a bracket sheet. The teams are:

Midwest Regional
Notre Dame

West Regional
Villanova
Holy Cross
Gonzaga

East Regional
Marquette
Boston College
Georgetown

South Regional
Xavier
Creighton

You could then have them do a rating of the Catholic teams (based on the seedings). It might look something like this:

1. Georgetown (2)
2. Notre Dame (6)
3. Boston College (7)
4. Marquette (8)
5. Villanova (9)/Xavier (9)
6. Creighton (10)/Gonzaga (10)
7. Holy Cross (13)

After the games are played, see how the ratings check out.

Also, hand out a blank map of the United States. See how many students can correctly place the Catholic college in the correct locations by state:

Indiana
Notre Dame

Pennsylvania
Villanova

Massachusetts
Holy Cross
Boston College

Washington
Gonzaga

Wisconsin
Marquette

District of Columbia
Georgetown

Ohio
Xavier

Nebraska
Creighton

Enough of the fun and games. You can also use the Catholic tournament teams as a starting point for several questions of interest or even for further research (now, that’s real madness!). Use the following trivial questions as discussion starters. Have your students develop some more:

1. Which of the Catholic colleges in the tournament are named after saints? (St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Francis Xavier, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Mary, Notre Dame)
2. Which college was founded by and named for the family that helped to bring the telegraph to the west? (Creighton)
3. Which was the first Catholic college founded in America? (Georgetown)
4. Which are Jesuit colleges? (Holy Cross, Boston College, Gonzaga, Marquette, Georgetown, Xavier, and Creighton)
5. Which college is founded by the Augustinian fathers? (Villanova)

Enjoy March Madness! No doubt your students will.

Comments

1 Anonymous

March 14, 2007
Question 4, Holy Cross is not a Jesuit institution, rather it was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

2 Anonymous

March 14, 2007
Question 4, Holy Cross is not a Jesuit institution, rather it was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

3 Peter Gehred

March 14, 2007
Thanks for keeping us honest. Holy Cross across the street from the University of Notre Dame is indeed a Jesuit institution. However, the Holy Cross in the NCAA tournament is in Massachusetts and is indeed a Jesuit institution. See their website http://www.holycross.edu/ which features a banner "Why Jesuit?"

4 Peter Gehred

March 14, 2007
Thanks for keeping us honest. Holy Cross across the street from the University of Notre Dame is indeed a Jesuit institution. However, the Holy Cross in the NCAA tournament is in Massachusetts and is indeed a Jesuit institution. See their website http://www.holycross.edu/ which features a banner "Why Jesuit?"

5 Peter Gehred

March 15, 2007
Final Correction: Holy Cross across from Notre Dame is a Congregation of Holy Cross institution. The one in Massachusetts is Jesuit.

6 Peter Gehred

March 15, 2007
Final Correction: Holy Cross across from Notre Dame is a Congregation of Holy Cross institution. The one in Massachusetts is Jesuit.

7 Anonymous

March 17, 2007
I think this is a great idea. I modified it as an Extra Credit assignment for my seniors. I added the Women's tournament as well. By my count, there are 7 Catholic teams playing hard in that tournament. I'm sure they'll let me know if I missed any!

8 Anonymous

March 17, 2007
I think this is a great idea. I modified it as an Extra Credit assignment for my seniors. I added the Women's tournament as well. By my count, there are 7 Catholic teams playing hard in that tournament. I'm sure they'll let me know if I missed any!

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