Culture

Here’s a Conservative Reason to Root for Every One of the 64 March Madness Teams

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:

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM

When the UAB football program proved to be too much of a time and money drain, they dropped it to focus more on education.

ALBANY

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.)

ARIZONA

Open carry!

#related#

ARKANSAS

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.

BAYLOR

Thomas S. Hibbs, NR’s perceptive social critic, is dean of the honors college here; Rand Paul is a graduate and former swimmer.

BELMONT

Alumnae of Belmont’s predecessor, a finishing school called Ward-Belmont College, include Clare Boothe Luce and Minnie Pearl.

BUFFALO

Um . . . Wolf Blitzer, Class of 1970? No? Okay, how about those chicken wings?

BUTLER

János Horváth spent 27 years on the faculty at Butler.

CINCINNATI

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).

COASTAL CAROLINA

Their nickname (Chanticleers) goes back to the 14th century. You can’t get much more standing-athwart-history than that.

DAVIDSON

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.)

DAYTON

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.

DUKE

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.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

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.

GEORGETOWN

You have to love a team with an ancient-Greek nickname.

GEORGIA

Because the university has finally revised its “free-speech policy” to allow actual free speech.

GEORGIA STATE

“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.

GONZAGA

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

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.”

HARVARD

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.

INDIANA

Bobby Knight was a Republican, and not the wishy-washy kind. After coaching the Hoosiers he moved on to Texas Tech, and now, in retirement, he still lives in solidly conservative Lubbock.

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.

KANSAS

Any state that liberals ask “What’s the matter with . . . ?” about is fine with us.

KENTUCKY

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.

LAFAYETTE

If not for the Marquis, this month we would all be glued to the NCAA Cricket Championships.

LOUISVILLE

It’s Mitch McConnell’s alma mater! (Oh, be quiet . . . )

LSU

Bobby Jindal (who actually went to Brown) is a big-time fan of the Bayou Bengals.

MARYLAND

The mascot is a turtle, and “Slow and steady wins the race” is a profound conservative maxim.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans handily combined what M. Stanton Evans sardonically noted were two favorite conservative priorities: imperialism and military dictatorships.

MISSISSIPPI

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

UNC’s president was not getting the job done, so earlier this year, conservatives in the state government replaced him.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Sure, the Raleigh school has had its share of politically correct silliness of late. But any school that allows a bus full of shirtless male models to drive co-eds to the polls can’t be too far gone.

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.

NORTHEASTERN

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?

NOTRE DAME

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.

OHIO STATE

Former coach Jim Tressel “so respect[ed] the military that the Buckeyes [wore] camouflaged football helmets during spring practice.”

OKLAHOMA

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.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Five words: Tom Coburn, class of 1970.

OREGON

Because their cheerleaders’ dance routines have been criticized for promoting “rape culture.”

PROVIDENCE

Anthony Esolen, a stout-hearted defender of marriage and other traditional virtues, is on the faculty, and the Dominicans generally are no squishes.

PURDUE

We always knew Mitch Daniels would make a great president; we just didn’t know it would be of Purdue. (There’s also this.)

ROBERT MORRIS

The financier of the Revolution showed that liberty is won with enterprise and thrift as much as with valor.

ST. JOHN’S

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

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.)

TEXAS

We love the state of Texas, and Kevin D. Williamson, who writes about half of our copy, is an alumnus.

TEXAS SOUTHERN

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.

UC IRVINE

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.

UCLA

We’ve criticized a few things at UCLA lately, but John Wooden’s philosophy is conservative in ways that go way beyond basketball.

UTAH

Average 69–28 Republican margin in presidential elections since 2000.

VALPARAISO

The Crusaders! (Take that, Obama!)

VILLANOVA

Kelly Ayotte and the Manhattan Institute’s E. J. McMahon, both alumni.

VIRGINIA

Rich Lowry’s alma mater.

VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

Va. Comm. is home to Professor Tom Baker, whose research shows that in Virginia, crime rates have dropped as gun sales have risen.

WEST VIRGINIA

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 STATE

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.”)

WISCONSIN

Yes, the faculty there have some wacky ideas. But Scott Walker will fix that.

WOFFORD

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.

WYOMING

Dick Cheney went there after he found Yale insufficiently challenging.

XAVIER

John Boehner’s alma mater . . . okay, how about Jim Bunning?

— Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.

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