A friend invites me every year to complete a bracket for the NCAA March Madness tournament. And every year I complete my "Baptist Renaissance" bracket, picking teams based upon their religious heritage from a conservative Southern Baptist perspective.
Baylor's loss today hurts my bracket significantly, so this is already something you probably don't care about. Nevertheless, I present to you my Baptist Renaissance bracket breakdown.
- North Carolina v Mt Saint Mary: North Carolina is a state secular school, while Mount Saint Mary is the second-oldest Catholic school in the nation. I should have picked Mount Saint Mary, but I guess it was too late at night when I picked my bracket—I picked North Carolina! That mistake messed up my bracket for a couple of rounds, but...oh well!
- Indiana v Arkansas: Both are government schools. According to the latest Pew survey, Arkansas is one of the most Baptist states in the union. And, as we all know from "Hoosiers," Indiana worships basketball. The BR pick goes to Arkansas.
- Notre Dame v George Mason: This one is a tough pick. Both are private schools. Notre Dame is the more conscientiously religious of the two schools. Yet George Mason was one of the architects of the First Amendment. That earns major props from this Southern Baptist. George Mason is the pick.
- Washington State v Winthrop: Washington State is a government school. Winthrop University, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is a private school with no discernable history of religious affiliation. Washington is a more secular state than South Carolina; therefore, the pick goes to Winthrop.
- Oklahoma v St. Joseph's: Our church has some fine Christian young people attending OU and serving through Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, but rules are rules. OU is a government school, and Saint Joseph's is a Jesuit school. The pick goes to St. Joseph's.
- Lousiville v Boise State: Both are secular schools. Lousiville is the home of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Boise is the home of potatoes. The pick goes to Louisville.
- Butler v South Alabama: South Alabama is a government school in Mobile, Alabama. Butler university was founded by Ovid Butler as (originally) North Western Christian University to educate young Christians from an antebellum abolitionist perspective. The pick goes to Butler.
- Tennessee v American: American University has enjoyed a lengthy relationship with American Methodists. Tennessee is a state school. The pick goes to American.
- Kansas v Portland State: Both are state schools. Oregon is among the least religious states in the union. The pick goes (weakly) to Kansas.
- UNLV v Kent State: This one was really difficult. On the one hand, Las Vegas represents everything reprehensible in human nature. On the other hand, Kent State was like the Alamo to the 60s generation, and the 60s movement represented almost everything reprehensible in human nature. Nevertheless, I cannot pick with Las Vegas, so the pick goes to Kent State.
- Clemson v Villanova: Clemson is a state school (although it was founded by private funds from the estate of Thomas Clemson). Villanova was founded by the Augustinian order of the Roman Catholic Church. The pick goes to Villanova.
- Vanderbilt v Siena: Siena College is Franciscan. Vanderbilt was initially a Methodist school, but it Baylored the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1914. The Methodists responded by founding SMU, by the way. So, since Siena is the only one of these schools that maintains a current religious connection, the Saints win the pick.
- USC v Kansas State: Southern California ranks right up there with Las Vegas. The pick goes to Kansas State.
- Wisconsin v Cal State-Fuller: In the aftermath of the recent anti-homeschooling ruling by a California court, I've pretty much decided to diss all things California. Wisconsin benefits from my ire.
- Gonzaga v Davidson: Gonzaga is a private Jesuit school. Davidson College was once Presbyterian, but apparently was not of the elect [smirk]. The school now "extends beyond the Christian community to the whole of humanity and necessarily includes openness to and respect for the world’s various religious traditions." Uh......huh. Gonzaga gets my pick.
- Georgetown v University of Maryland, Baltimore County: UMBC is a secular school. Georgetown is a Catholic school. Georgetown gets the pick (see, this system actually makes sense sometimes!).
- Memphis v UTA: Although the University of Texas at Arlington is a secular school, it has awarded degrees to some key folks advancing the Baptist Renaissance. For that fact alone, I accord UTA special status. Memphis was, at one time, the headquarters of the Brotherhood Commission, but that's not enough. I award the pick to UTA.
- Mississippi State v Oregon: Bulldogs are among the ugliest, frothiest creatures inhabiting the planet. The fact that they still exist is strong evidence against evolution. And strong evidence against evolution is a good thing to this Southern Baptist conservative. Oregon is a pretty dark place spiritually. Mississippi State gets the pick.
- Michigan State v Temple: Michigan State is a state school. Temple was founded by Russell "If You Love Jesus You'll Be A Millionaire" Conwell through his Baptist Temple ministry. Temple all the way.
- Pittsburgh v Oral Roberts: Part of me would like to dissociate Christianity from ORU, but Pittsburgh is a state school. The pick goes (reluctantly) to Oral Roberts. By the way, they can't burn functional CDs at Oral Roberts—the hole in the middle keeps healing up.
- Marquette v Kentucky: With a name like Marquette, you know it's going to be a Catholic school, right? Man, those Jesuits must know something about basketball! Kentucky is a state school. Marquette gets the pick.
- Stanford v Cornell: Please don't ever use in a sermon the story about the plain looking couple whom Harvard's president allegedly dismissed at their appearance, unwittingly forfeiting the fortune that founded Stanford. It's a lie. Leland Stanford had no apparent religious aims in founding the university, and it resides in California (see where this is headed?). Cornell University was founded as the first coeducational Ivy League school and a school open to people of all races. As an interesting side note, a large number of Stanford's early faculty came from Cornell. The pick goes to Cornell, although it is not a religious school, largely because it is not in California.
- Miami v Saint Mary's: Let's see....Cocaine running gang members or a Catholic College in the tradition of John Baptist de La Salle? I'll have to break my California rule here, especially since "Baptist" is in the name of the college's patron. St. Mary's gets the pick.
- Texas v Austin Peay: Both are state schools, but Austin Peay wins the pick for two reasons: First, the school is named after Tennessee Governor Austin Peay, who fought against evolution during the Scopes Trial. Second, the school sits on the former campus of Rhodes College, then called Southwestern Presbyterian College.
- UCLA v Mississippi Valley State: Mississippi: Home of B. H. Carroll. Los Angeles: Home of Paris Hilton. I'm picking Mississippi Valley State.
- Brigham Young v Texas A&M: I draw the line at heresies. BYU gets negative treatment for its religious status. May Judge Baylor forgive me for saying it, but Go Aggies.
- Drake v Western Kentucky: Drake was founded by a Disciples of Christ preacher, General George T. Carpenter. Western Kentucky is a state university. The pick goes to Drake.
- Connecticut v San Diego: Both are state schools. Connecticut gave us Isaac Backus. I pick U Conn.
- Purdue v Baylor: Baylor was founded as a Baptist school. Purdue is a state school. Although Baylor's Baptist status remains somewhat unclear after the school's trustees stole it away from the BGCT, canned Robert Sloan for daring to articulate a thoroughly Christian vision for the school, and hired a Presbyterian to preside over the school, we must also look at the bright side. Down through its history, Baylor has trained a number of great conservative Baptists. Shoot, even I went there. Sic 'em, Bears.
- Xavier v Georgia: By now you know how this works. Xavier is Catholic. Georgia is secular. Xavier.
- West Virginia v Arizona: West Virginia is more religious than Arizona. I pick West Virginia.
- Duke v Belmont: Neither school is exactly a model of Christian education. Belmont was, until recently, at least nominally Baptist. Duke was Methodist and has Satan for a mascot. I pick Belmont.
- North Carolina v Arkansas: According to the Pew Study, Arkansas is more Baptist than North Carolina. And I came from Arkansas, too. I pick Arkansas.
- George Mason v Winthrop: Mason's status as a Father of the First Amendment trumps again.
- Saint Joseph's v Louisville: Sorry, SBTS...Louisville is not a religious school. I pick Saint Joseph's.
- Butler v American: American was specifically connected to the Methodist Church. American over Butler.
- Kansas v Kent State: Here's my chance to knock off the 60s hippie LSD school. Go Kansas.
- Villanova v Siena: Six one way; half a dozen the other. I think Villanova beats Siena.
- Kansas State v Wisconsin: Kansas is a more religious state to my liking. I'm going with Kansas State.
- Georgetown v Gonzaga: Again, I'm pretty much free to pick according to actual basketball here. I'm going with Georgetown.
- UTA v Mississippi State: UTA gave us Emir Caner. Mississippi State gave us John Grisham. I'm going with UTA.
- Temple v Oral Roberts: Whatever her founding, Temple's not religious any more. ORU is the pick.
- Marquette v Cornell: Marquette.
- Saint Mary's v Austin Peay: Saint Mary's.
- Mississippi Valley State v Texas A&M: Texas A&M is home to one of the largest BSUs in the world. I'm going with the Aggies.
- Drake v U Conn: Drake.
- Baylor v Xavier: Baylor.
- West Virginia v Belmont: Belmont.
- Arkansas v George Mason: George Mason.
- Saint Joseph's v American: Methodist beats Roman Catholic. American.
- Kansas v Villanova: Villanova
- Kansas State v Georgetown: Georgetown.
- UTA v Oral Roberts: UTA's honorary Baptist standing beats the ecstatic babblers.
- Marquette v Saint Mary's: I'll take sixth-seeded Marquette, thank you very much.
- Texas A&M v Drake: A&M, for reasons given above.
- Baylor v Belmont: Da Bears.
- George Mason v American: George Mason (I'm pretty big on this Religious Liberty thing, and consequently pretty happy about a judicial ruling today).
- Villanova v Georgetown: Both Catholic. I'll take Georgetown.
- UTA v Marquette: UTA.
- A&M v Baylor: Now this game, I'd love to see. Baylor over A&M.
- George Mason v Georgetown: George Mason.
- UTA v Baylor: Real Baptist school over honorary Baptist school: Baylor.
- George Mason v Baylor: Baylor University, congratulations on your first men's national basketball title!
Oh well, one can always dream.