Ranked in Rifle and Basketball

West Virginia Mountaineer mascot Jonathan Kimble is known to basketball fans for firing gunpowder from his musket during West Virginia home games. But he is also known for continuing the Mountaineer mascot tradition of hunting with the same musket. While both Ohio State and NC State have nationally-ranked basketball and rifle teams, there may be no bigger difference in the cultures behind the two sports that show the divide in the current debate over the 2nd Amendment.

The country was founded when the founding fathers overthrew a British government with arms, and they enshrined that right in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, with Thomas Jefferson even suggesting it was something that needed to be done fairly regularly or the government would grow too powerful.

However, the rural culture that has developed over the 237 years since also relied on the gun as the basic protection of the family from intruders and predators, and the only way to add protein to the family’s diet. Even today, rural residents often do not have the luxury of immediately available police protection, as it can take some time for the sheriff to get to areas of the county.

As American cities grew over time, the urban culture that was so well presented in the movie classic Hoop Dreams did not have any access to hunting or open fields. In the limited space available, the culture often centered around hoops put up on small areas of asphalt basketball courts.

With the suburbs in the middle, the current debate over protection of the 2nd amendment is to some degree a clash of those two cultures. Perhaps the best chance for an understanding of the 2nd amendment may start in places that have access to both cultures. While NC State and Ohio State are the only two universities with ranked teams in both rifle and basketball right now, Memphis, Murray State, Kentucky and West Virginia have had powerhouse programs in the past. The following are the current rankings in both sports as each heads toward their national championships in March:

Rnk AP Basketball Rankings NCAA Rifle Team Rankings
1 Louisville West Virginia
2 Indiana TCU
3 Duke Kentucky
4 Kansas Alaska-Fairbanks
5 Michigan Jacksonville State
6 Syracuse Army
7 Arizona Nebraska
8 Gonzaga Murray State
9 Minnesota Air Force
10 Florida Memphis
11 Ohio State Mississippi
12 Creighton Nevada
13 Butler Navy
14 NC State NC State
15 San Diego State Ohio State
16 Kansas State Tennessee-Martin
17 Missouri Akron
18 Michigan State Columbus State
19 New Mexico Morehead State
20 Notre Dame UTEP
21 Oregon  
22 VCU  
23 Illinois  
24 UCLA  
25 Marquette

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