It’s the most wonderful time of the year, once again. Okay, maybe not the most wonderful time for everybody, but it is most certainly the SWEETEST. That’s right — the NCAA March Madness Sweet Sixteen is upon us and college basketball fans everywhere are rejoicing, stressing, screaming, cheering, and, on occasion, crying.
This sentiment holds true for many country stars who are supporting their favorite universities on their treks to the Regional Finals, Final Four, and the ultimate championship game. It’s no secret that Laura Bell Bundy bleeds blue and has since the day she was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Country music up-and-comer Clayton Anderson made it no secret to me and Jessica Northey on a fun post-CMA Awards flight from Nashville to Phoenix that he is a proud fan of the Fighting Irish. And, well, it has been brought to our attention that Dustin Lynch may have a personal connection to the University of Louisville.
With the last men standing being paired against one another in an annual bracket, we thought it would be interesting to do the same, pinning country stars against each other in bracket formation, assigning a musical representative to each of the remaining NCAA Men’s Basketball teams. Who do you think should stand atop the podium when the season draws to a close on April 6th? Cast your vote below for a country artist/team and keep your eyes on the bracket to see if your selection gets knocked out or continues to soar.
University of Kentucky – Laura Bell Bundy is a Wildcat through and through, celebrating a little something she likes to call “Kentucky Dirty” any chance she gets. It is not uncommon to see Laura social media shouting about her love for the UK and she is as true blue and dedicated as can be.
West Virginia University – Brad Paisley hails from the Mountaineers’ home state and is perfect representation for the team on our Country Music’s #CMchat bracket. Whether he’s checking you for ticks or appearing so much cooler online, Brad is a baller and could very well make it to the Finals — at least on our poll.
University of Notre Dame – The school gained national attention when the Fighting Irish took home NCAA Football championships, but even more so when Sean Astin paid homage to a man we all know and love named Rudy. Go ahead. Chant it. Country music up-and-comer and Country Music’s #CMchat friend Clayton Anderson boasts his love for Indiana colleges whenever he can. With his Hoosiers being eliminated, Clayton will have to count on ND to take it home.
Wichita State University – Country music icon Glen Campbell once sang of a “Wichita Lineman,” a tune that was named to Rolling Stone’s Top 500 songs of all time list. Who better to represent Wichita State than a man who put the name of the city on the musical map?
University of Wisconsin – Josh Thompson was born in the state that is home to the University of Wisconsin Badgers. Though he has shared his love more for the Green Bay Packers than the home state Sweet Sixteen team, it still seems apropos to make him a Badger for this moment.
University of North Carolina – Chase Rice is the obviously choice for the Tar Heels, and we are sure he is going to ready, set, roll into crazed fan mode at tipoff. Chase is a former student of UNC Chapel Hill and even wore the UNC football uniform during his time there. We can also put money on the team he is adamant about losing as soon as possible………
University of Arizona – She’s not a country artist, but she’s Country Music’s #CMchat’s Jessica Northey and she is Tucson born and raised. Jessica is no stranger to a tweet that contains #BearDown and is pulling full force for the team that calls her beloved hometown its own.
Xavier University – The school is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, so let’s go ahead and assign some Ohio blood to the West’s sixth seed. Considering their run is likely about to come to an end, it’s only fair to give them as much help as possible. The boys of Rascal Flatts came together in unity in the Buckeye State, so we are giving Xavier University three good luck charms in the form of Gary, Joe Don, and Jay.
North Carolina State – Before he was on track to become the American Idol, Scotty McCreery was ready to pack his bags and head to NC State. Lucky for the music industry, Scotty detoured a bit from the base path he was on in high school and exchanged a baseball uniform for stage attire. However, you can take the boy out of North Carolina, but you can’t take the North Carolina out of the boy.
University of Louisville – He might have attended Lipscomb University in Nashville and he may sing of the school that houses the Bisons regularly, but rumor has it Dustin Lynch may have a reason to pull for the University of Louisville Cardinals this NCAA tournament. Her name is Amanda Mertz and she is from Cardinal Country. Yep yep, that’s where it’s at for Dustin this year.
University of Oklahoma – Toby Keith loves this bar, but he also loves his Sooners. He can often be seen sporting some Oklahoma crimson and cream, cheering for the University of Oklahoma’s sports teams. We have no doubt he’s holding up a red solo cup in the school’s honor during the tournament.
Michigan State University – Jana Kramer recently made news for defending her home state of Michigan against one of her childhood idols, Madonna. In speaking up about the pop icon’s negative comments about the state and high school the two songstresses have in common, Jana stated “I am so proud of my state and where I will forever call home in my heart.” Could there be anybody better to serve as an honorary Spartan right now?
Duke University – Impressive Duke alumnus Kara DioGuardi is an artist in her own right, but she has written some well-known songs for many country singers; specifically those who got their starts on American Idol. While most of Kara’s catalog can be classified under pop (Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Hilary Duff, and more), the former Idol judge and renowned writer has also written for Carrie Underwood and Danny Gokey. That’s enough in our books to make her the Blue Devil rep on Country Music’s #CMchat!
University of Utah – All three of the members of SHeDAISY are from the state where the Utes play, making them the most obvious choice to support the Number 5 seed against the Number 1 seed. Though the University of Utah may meet its demise relatively fast in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, it can rest easy knowing it has not one, not two, but three lovely ladies waving little goodbyes along side it.
UCLA – Annie Bosko is a proud California girl who goes home to visit as often as she can, especially considering her ginormous family still resides there. Now, we have it under good authority that Annie is a USC Trojan girl, but we still feel she is a perfect fit to represent California in this situation. Don’t hate us, Annie! We love you!
Gonzaga University – James Otto, you are Mr. Washington. Congratulations! The basketball savvy university is located in Spokane, Washington and James was born in the great state in the uppermost northwest point of the continental United States. Therefore he will be a Bulldog — at least until all is said and done this season. However, he has an awfully good chance at going all the way, so he should embrace this while the iron is hot!