Each week in The Holy Huddle, Doug Hankins takes a look at the goings on of the sports world from a distinctly Christian perspective. 

With so much unfolding in just a short weekend, I will cut to the quick recap of the Sweet 16 action.  Remember, in this tournament we advance teams based on these rules.

Recapping The Theology Hoops Sweet 16

Christian/Education Division 

  • Lehigh over Duke.  Bottom line, this matchup occurred in MM and we imported the outcome into our bracket.
  • Vandy over Murray State.  Both lost in MM in the second round.  Since Vandy has a slight edge in true religious education, we deemed Vandy the winner of this matchup.
  • Temple over San Diego. Both lost in the first round of MM and, again, we gave the nod to Temple due to a slightly more religious orientation.
  • Baylor over Harvard.  Harvard lost to Vandy in the opening round of MM.  Baylor went to the MM Elite 8.

Christian Education Division

  • Marquette over Notre Dame. Notre Dame lost in the opening round of MM.  Marquette made it to the sweet 16.
  • Gonzaga over Saint Mary’s.  The Zags went to round 2.  Saint Mary’s was out in the first round..
  • Xavier over Georgetown. Xavier made it to the Sweet 16 in MM. Georgetown made it to the field of 32.
  • Saint Louis over Creighton.  This was the first non-routine CaPC call.  Both teams advanced to the second day of MM. So we had to go to CaPC staff picks for the final selection.  What made the deciding factor? Saint Louis’ wikipedia page was much more interesting (from a religious higher ed perspective) than Creighton’s wikipedia page.  For example: Did you know that Saint Louis banned a woman’s’ group from performing the Vagina Monologues on campus and also cracked down on LBGT student groups because both groups contradicted the Jesuit university’s ethos?  One has to admit that Saint Louis demonstrated a profound upholding of traditional religious values — which earns points in the theology hoops tournament.

Recapping The Theology Hoops Elite 8

Christian/ Education Division

(1) Lehigh over Vandy.  Both went to two rounds deep in MM.  So why this pick?  Both Vanderbilt and Lehigh are associated with seminary/divinity schools, offering a unique insight into the ethos of their religious education.  I decided that the winning team would have the more focused and clear mission purpose page.  Vanderbilt Divinity School had this to say about their approach to theological education:

The Divinity School seeks to fulfill the following objectives:

• to engage men and women in a theological understanding of religious traditions;
• to help persons, both lay and ordained, reenvision and prepare for the practice of Christian ministry in our time;
• to encourage individuals in their spiritual and intellectual growth;
• to prepare leaders who will be agents of social justice; and
• to educate future scholars and teachers of religion.

Lehigh is loosely affiliated with Moravian College, home of Moravian Theological Seminary, which has this to say about theological education:

Our programs are rooted in the Moravian faith tradition — centered in Jesus Christ, grounded in Scripture, ecumenical in spirit, committed to community, and focused on missional leadership.

From this author’s vantage point, MTS focuses education on Jesus Christ and grounded in scripture.  VDS focuses education in the Christian tradition.  And as these series of timely youtube commercials reminded us, following Jesus is preferable to following Christian tradition. Lehigh wins.

(2) Baylor over Temple. In the battle of the Baptist, this one speaks for itself.  If you have difficulty with this decision, perhaps you should watch the youtube clip of this baptism by Baylor small forward/Pastor of Dunking, Quincy Acy.

Christian Education Division

Marquette beats Gonzaga by virtue of their advancement in MM and Xavier beats Saint Louis based on the same logic.

However, this Regional Final should remind readers of the importance and influence of Jesuit education in America, as established in this Jesuit saying, “Let us have the education of Children until they are seven, and you may have them thereafter.”  Perhaps we should rephrase this saying to, “Let us have the education of people until they are 22, and you may have them thereafter.”  As this Jesuit education alumni list indicates, the world is a better place because of the Order of Jesus.

In next week’s column, I will unveil the Theology Hoops Final Four between Xavier, Marquette, Baylor, and Lehigh.