(VATICAN CITY – March 21) New Pope Francis announced his NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket today, and revealed that he thinks the championship will be won by the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In an exclusive interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy Father admitted that although he hadn’t had as much time to work on his bracket as he has in the past, he still feels confident about his selections.
“Notre Dame,” Francis said without hesitation when asked who he had winning it all. “I just have a feeling this is their year. If they can get past Ohio State in the second round, I think they will go all the way.” The pontiff added, however, that top-ranked Gonzaga should not be overlooked. “Never bet against the Jesuits,” he said with a smile.
In addition to Notre Dame, Francis’ other Final Four picks are Saint Louis in the Midwest, Georgetown in the South, and Marquette in the East. “I almost chose the Louisville Cardinals in the Midwest, but ultimately I stayed with Saint Louis,” he said.
|Pope Francis discussing his bracket with the media|
Francis expressed appreciation that this year’s Final Four, to be played in Atlanta on April 6 and 8, does not conflict with Easter. “With the liturgies on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, it can be difficult to keep up with the results. Thankfully, this year that will not be the case.”
The Pope chuckled when asked whether his election as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church means that his bracket is now to be considered infallible. “The Catholic faithful are under no obligation to follow my predictions,” Francis said. “In fact, my colleagues in Buenos Aries might suggest one would better off if they didn’t. But it has been a good month so far - perhaps it is a sign that my luck is changing.”