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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

March 18, 2008

Catholic Colleges in March Madness: Part 2

Here's a re-do of a post we published last year during the all-encompassing NCAA Basketball tournament.

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 circling winners for games leading up to the championship game on April 7. This post isn't meant to condone all the non-academic behavior that often leads to a lack of productivity at school and work, but only to draw a small lesson from it and have some fun that comes with college basketball.

Of the sixty-five teams that began the tournament, eleven 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 printable bracket. The teams are:

East Regional
Mt. St. Mary's (if play-in winner)
Notre Dame
St. Joseph's

Midwest Regional

South Regional
St. Mary's (CA)

West Regional
San Diego

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. Xavier (3)
3. Notre Dame (5)
4. Marquette (6)
5. Gonzaga (7)
6. St. Mary's (CA) (10)
7. St. Joseph's (11)
8. Villanova (12)
9. Siena (13)/San Diego (13)
10. Mt. St. Mary's (16)

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:

Mt. St. Mary's

Notre Dame

St. Joseph's

New York


District of Columbia


St. Mary's
San Diego


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, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Diego de Alcalá )
2. Which college was named for the French explorer who mapped the northern portion of the Mississippi River (Marquette)
4. Which are Jesuit colleges? (St. Joseph's, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Marquette, Xavier)
5. Which college is founded by the Franciscan friars? (Siena)

Enjoy March Madness! No doubt your students will.Combat a lack of productivity at school or the workplace due to "the Tournament" by drawing these and other lesson from it and join in with some of the fun of college basketball.

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