March Madness: It All Comes Down To Tonight (and Tomorrow Night)

It’s game time. Tonight is the NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Game. Over the weekend Kentucky was victorious over Louisville in the bluegrass battle and Kansas edged out Ohio State. Unfortunately, not a single religiously affiliated school made it through to the Final Four in the men’s tourney. The NCAA Women’s Tournament was a different story. Baylor (Baptist) and Notre Dame (Catholic) overpowered their opposition — Stanford and UConn, respectively — to land in the women’s championship game.

Men’s Recap

The weekend started with Kentucky handling Louisville fairly easily. The game was close for a quick spurt during the second half and was briefly tied, but for the most part Kentucky showed its talent and won out in the end. In the second semifinal, Ohio State started out the game dominating Kansas in the first half, but over time the Jayhawks battled back and made it a close game halfway through the second half. In the end Kansas was able to take the lead and hold on in a back-and-forth game. It feels pretty good to have actually correctly predicted what would take place over the weekend, but alas for my personal brackets it was far too little too late. (Check out Busted Halo’s updated Catholic Bracketology below). Monday night’s championship game however, may once again just be a case of Kentucky being able to out talent Kansas and cruise to a victory.

Let’s take a closer look at the coaches. Louisville’s Coach Calipari upset his rival, Kentucky Coach Pitino, in the Kentucky vs. Louisville matchup Saturday night. Both men had ties to the University of Massachusetts, where coach Pitino played and Calipari coached thanks to Pitino’s recommendation. Calipari moved on to Memphis after UMass, racking up several NCAA violations at both schools before moving on to Kentucky. (I would say he reached the Final Four with Memphis and Kentucky in the past, but I’m not sure which wins actually still count.) Kansas Coach Bill Self once coached at Oral Roberts (the largest Charismatic Christian University in the world) as well as Tulsa (founded by the Presbyterian Church) before moving on to Illinois and eventually Kansas. Tonight both coaches and teams will give everything they’ve got to capture championship greatness.

Women’s Catholic-Baptist Face Off

The women’s tournament has gone completely as it should and has followed the seeding. Tuesday night we’ll be treated to a great religious school battle. Notre Dame, powered by Skylar Diggans, and Baylor, spurred on by the dunking dramatics of Brittney Griner, will meet in the women’s championship game. Notre Dame faced its biggest rival in women’s basketball in the Final Four, UConn. This was the fourth time this season that the two teams have faced off, with Notre Dame winning both regular season matchups and UConn getting the upper hand in the Big East championship tournament on their home court. Notre Dame pulled it off — in overtime — giving fans some much needed excitement and very competitive play in the women’s tournament.

Hot on the heels of a great sports weekend in men’s and women’s college basketball two championship games await us. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. And I’ll be one of the Leprechaun Legion pulling for Notre Dame tomorrow night. Go Irish!

Here’s a look at how the Catholic schools — and other religious-affiliated colleges and universities — did in this year’s tournaments. How many correct picks did you have?