With the NCAA basketball tournament kicking off today, National Review has examined the field and determined there is a reason for conservatives in good conscience to root for each and every one of the 64 teams that made the proper opening round of the tournament. (The five-year-old four-game “first round” remains, from our perspective, a Jacobean invention.) Here we go:
When the UAB football program proved to be too much of a time and money drain, they dropped it to focus more on education.
Conservatives are not afraid to be different, and neither is Albany, the only college in America whose sports teams have the nickname Great Danes. (Before that, they were called the Pedagogues. No, really, they were. That seemed a little less conservative.)
Many of the best ideas for reforming America’s schools come from UArk’s Department of Education Reform, home to NR friends Jay P. Greene and Patrick Wolf.
Thomas S. Hibbs, NR’s perceptive social critic, is dean of the honors college here; Rand Paul is a graduate and former swimmer.
Alumnae of Belmont’s predecessor, a finishing school called Ward-Belmont College, include Clare Boothe Luce and Minnie Pearl.
Um . . . Wolf Blitzer, Class of 1970? No? Okay, how about those chicken wings?
We always wanted a college team to call itself the Manbearpigs, after the South Park episode mocking Al Gore, but Cincy’s Bearcats are as chimerical as we can find (in this tournament, anyway).
Their nickname (Chanticleers) goes back to the 14th century. You can’t get much more standing-athwart-history than that.
At Davidson, math students help the team and coaches with detailed mathematical analysis of statistics. And evidence-based reasoning is the essence of conservatism. (Also Woodrow Wilson went here but found it too challenging, so he transferred to Princeton.)
UD’s motto is “Pro Deo et Patria,” for God and country, a spirit that we’d like to animate a few more higher-ed institutions these days. And the team’s named after the Wright brothers, who managed to make a huge leap forward in technology without any federal research funding.
Okay, they’re Duke, but it shows the good that can result when cigarette profits are spent by their owners instead of lining the pockets of tort lawyers and buying votes for state politicians.
All the hipsters and foodies and cybernerds live along the coast. If you want red-meat conservatism and lots of guns, Eastern Washington is definitely the part of the state you want to be in.
You have to love a team with an ancient-Greek nickname.
Because the university has finally revised its “free-speech policy” to allow actual free speech.
“Annette Lucille Hall was a Lithonia social studies teacher who enrolled in the course of the Institute on Americanism and Communism, a course required for all Georgia social studies teachers.” — equal opportunity and anti-Communism.
In 2013, when the student-activities board banned the Knights of Columbus from campus for discriminating against women and non-Catholics, the university president overruled the decision. (Also, Bing Crosby went there.)
Hampton is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, which brings to mind Russell Kirk’s favorite line: “There are no lost causes because there are no won causes.”
If Bill Buckley were still alive (well, and cared about sports) he would raise an eyebrow impishly at our endorsement of Yale’s biggest rival. But Patrick Brennan (NR’s online opinion editor), Jason Steorts (magazine managing editor), and many other NR contributors through the years have been Harvard graduates.
IOWA/IOWA STATE/NORTHERN IOWA
We can’t get behind the Renewable Fuel Standard, but we’ll happily endorse having three Hawkeye State teams in the NCAA.
Any state that liberals ask “What’s the matter with . . . ?” about is fine with us.
Meritocracy, baby! The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, but statistically, there is a significant correlation. Plus, the Wildcats unite the Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wings of the GOP.
If not for the Marquis, this month we would all be glued to the NCAA Cricket Championships.
It’s Mitch McConnell’s alma mater! (Oh, be quiet . . . )
Bobby Jindal (who actually went to Brown) is a big-time fan of the Bayou Bengals.
The mascot is a turtle, and “Slow and steady wins the race” is a profound conservative maxim.
The Spartans handily combined what M. Stanton Evans sardonically noted were two favorite conservative priorities: imperialism and military dictatorships.
We want the Rebels to stay alive in the tournament so we can annoy liberals by calling the school Ole Miss.
NEW MEXICO STATE
Governor Susana Martinez went to UTEP but we know she’ll be rooting for the Aggies, and we’re big fans of hers.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
The Wall Street Journal praises NDSU for holding down costs and tailoring its offerings to meet actual student needs (both quite rare in education), which is why the university attracts so many out-of-staters.
Most Northeastern students still spend one year out of five at the school working in the private sector, through the school’s co-op program. How many unemployed Millennials might have found that useful?
Say what you will about the whole honorary-degree-to-Obama thing, but any school with room for Touchdown Jesus and a belligerent leprechaun mascot is still worth supporting.
Former coach Jim Tressel “so respect[ed] the military that the Buckeyes [wore] camouflaged football helmets during spring practice.”
Bud Wilkinson, the great Sooners football coach of the 1940s and 1950s, ran for Senate as a conservative Republican in 1964 and lost narrowly to Fred Harris in that year’s Democratic wave. He later served as an adviser to President Richard Nixon.
Five words: Tom Coburn, class of 1970.
Because their cheerleaders’ dance routines have been criticized for promoting “rape culture.”
Anthony Esolen, a stout-hearted defender of marriage and other traditional virtues, is on the faculty, and the Dominicans generally are no squishes.
We always knew Mitch Daniels would make a great president; we just didn’t know it would be of Purdue. (There’s also this.)
The financier of the Revolution showed that liberty is won with enterprise and thrift as much as with valor.
Hey, remember all those goofy, corny Bing Crosby/Bob Hope “road” movies? Well, St. John’s is literally on the Road to Utopia (well, Utopia Parkway).
SAN DIEGO STATE
Not only is San Diego one of America’s few Republican cities, but SDSU’s nickname, the Aztecs, exposes liberal hypocrisy: Why are American Indian nicknames forbidden but Central American Indians (complete with corny logo and mascot) okay? Ethnocentrism, anyone?
SMU houses the George W. Bush Library and Museum, where you can see the actual jacket that Dubya wore while serving turkey to the troops in Baghdad in 2003.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
The school’s namesake set the stage for Texas, which was then Mexican territory, to become part of the U.S. by bringing in immigrants in such large numbers that they eventually took over the place. An admirable figure and an object lesson. (Plus the team is called the Lumberjacks. We are totally into the lumbersexual look at NR.)
We love the state of Texas, and Kevin D. Williamson, who writes about half of our copy, is an alumnus.
Was founded as an all-black law school with one student in a transparent attempt to get around a federal court’s desegregation order, but has risen from those unpromising beginnings to become a major educational force in the Lone Star State.
Never mind the flag controversy. Ever wonder why they’re called the Anteaters? Well, we’ll tell you anyway. The nickname comes from the aardvark character in famous conservative Johnny Hart’s comic strip B.C. Also, Orange County has long been noted for its strongly conservative residents, affectionately nicknamed “cavemen.” Coincidence? We think not.
We’ve criticized a few things at UCLA lately, but John Wooden’s philosophy is conservative in ways that go way beyond basketball.
Average 69–28 Republican margin in presidential elections since 2000.
The Crusaders! (Take that, Obama!)
Kelly Ayotte and the Manhattan Institute’s E. J. McMahon, both alumni.
Rich Lowry’s alma mater.
After a long history of voting Democratic, went unexpectedly for Bush in 2000, tipping the election. While that may not be an unalloyed good, consider the alternative.
Wichita is not just the Koch brothers’ hometown — the Shockers’ arena is actually named after Charles. (Also a conservative has to love a town that in a single decade could inspire both Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” and Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra.”)
Yes, the faculty there have some wacky ideas. But Scott Walker will fix that.
If you support net neutrality (as some conservatives do), Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner and a strong net-neutrality supporter, is a Wofford grad.
Dick Cheney went there after he found Yale insufficiently challenging.
John Boehner’s alma mater . . . okay, how about Jim Bunning?
— Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.