Using tournament brackets to pick the next Pope


For many Americans, this March Madness will be the same as ever: brackets, ruined brackets, buzzer beaters and praying Duke doesn’t win.

Unlike in years past, the NCAA tournament won’t be the only March Madness competing for headlines. Sometime next month, the College of Cardinals will meet at the Vatican to begin their conclave, which will select the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Because brackets are the greatest invention since the printing press, the folks at religionnews.Com fused the two competitions and put together a tournament of 16 leading contenders for the papacy. They called it “The Sweet Sistine,” which makes me think someone came up with that awesome name first, then decided to fill in the brackets.

Now, we can’t identify our favorite Pope Pius and know more about the Louisville Cardinals than the College of Cardinals (though both teams have players who wear red and leaders in white). But if the papal brackets are anything like the tournament brackets, we’ll be able to use the process of elimination to find out who will be the next pope.

Explore more:  Knee injury rules Spain's Alcantara out of WCup

1. In wide open brackets, the favorites rarely win. The last two tournaments with no pre-tourney consensus pick (2011 and 2006) were chaotic and led to upset victories by Connecticut and Florida, respectively. Thus, if you’re a betting line favorite to ascend to the papacy, don’t start measuring your finger for the Ring of the Fisherman quite yet.

Sorry: Peter Turkson (5/2 favorite), Angelo Scola (7/4), Marc Oullet (4/1), Leonardo Sandri (15/2).

2. The last 12 winners of the national title are Kentucky, UConn, Duke, UNC, Kansas, Florida, Florida, UNC, UConn, Syracuse, Maryland, Duke. You’ll notice there are no Mississippi Valley States or UC-Santa Barabaras in the mix. The takeaway? Short names are in, long names are out.

Sorry: Norberto Rivera Carrera, Joao Braz de Aviz, Oscar Rodrigues Maradiaga, Odilo Pedro Scherer, Luis Antonio Tagle.

3. No saint has made a Final Four since St. John’s in 1985, unless you live in Durham and have already canonized Mike Krzyzewski. If you have the same Anglicized name as a saint, you’re not going to be cutting down the rosary at the conclave.

Sorry: Timothy Dolan, Peter Erdo, John Onaiyekan, Robert Sarah.

4. Senior-led teams are a relic of the past. And if 74-year-old Greg Oden couldn’t lead Ohio State to a title earlier this century, what chance does an older man have of winning the papacy this time?

Sorry: Gianfranco Ravasi (age 70).

Explore more:  arsenal soccer jersey

5. The American cardinal — Sean O’Malley — serves in Boston, as if you already hadn’t guessed that. No university from Boston has ever made the Final Four, let alone won a national title.

Sorry: Sean O’Malley.