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Sweet Sixteen: The Basketball Edition (submitted by Sandlynn)

Every March, some of you may be aware that there’s a huge college basketball tournament in the U.S. The following are the 16 top teams that went on to compete for the championship in 2015 aka “The Sweet Sixteen” of 2015. (You can look up who won. Wink

Read 10 to 16 romances following any of the requirements below:

1. Kentucky Wildcats – Kentucky joined the United States in 1861, the year the American Civil War began. Read a romance in which the setting is the American Civil War or any civil war around the world. Or, since Kentucky is known for its bourbon, read a romance in which the hero or heroine are involved in the making, selling, or serving of wine, beer, or spirits. Or, since Kentucky is also horse country and famous for the Kentucky Derby, read a romance in which the hero/heroine are involved with horses or any kind of racing.

2. Arizona Wildcats – Arizona joined the United States in 1912. Read a romance set some time in the 1st two decades of the 20th century (1900 – 1920). Or, since Arizona is desert country, read a novel which takes place, at least partially, in a desert environment. Alternatively, playing off the nickname “Wildcats,” read a romance in which the heroine is considered a “wildcat.” Although politically incorrect in today’s terms, a woman who, “loosely defined,” refuses to adhere to society’s strictures of the time in which she lives.

3. Wisconsin Badgers – Wisconsin is known for its dairy production and its cheese. Read a romance set on a farm or involves a hero or heroine who makes things using these products, like a chef of any sort. Or, in celebration of the badger, which is a creature that burrows and lives underground, read a romance in which the hero and/or heroine is in hiding or is in disguise.

4. Duke Blue Devils – Duke is not only the name of the person who established Duke University but is also a noble title. Read a romance in which the hero or heroine (or both) have a noble title of any kind. Or, in recognition of their mascot’s name, read a romance in which the word “Blue” or “Devil” is in the title of the book or is a part of a word from the title, like “devilish” or “bluebird.”

5. Michigan State Spartans – Detroit is in Michigan which is considered the car capital of the U.S. Read a romance in which the hero and/or heroine spend most of the story traveling or “on the road.” Alternatively, in homage to the Spartans of Sparta, read a romance in which the hero and/or heroine are members or former members of the military or a romance which is set in Greece or any country in the Mediterranean.

6. Wichita State Shockers – Wichita is in Kansas, which is famously known for Dodge City and men like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok and Bat Masterson who tamed these lawless territories. Read a romance set in the old American west or read one that features a hero and/or heroine who is a police officer, detective, in private security, or is a bodyguard. Alternatively, read any romantic suspense novel.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Gonzaga University is located in Washington State, which is also famous for its rainy weather, its apples, coffee, and Microsoft. In recognition of one of these attributes, read a romance in which the hero or heroine is involved in high technology or is an entrepreneur of any kind. Alternatively, either read a romance set in the Northwest United States or, simply, a futuristic novel. In celebration of the Gonzaga mascot, you may also read any romance which prominently features a dog or dogs.

8. Oklahoma Sooners – Oklahoma’s territory was originally set aside as land for Native Americans. However, it was opened in 1889 to settlers, which became known as the “Oklahoma Land Rush.” Read a novel featuring Native Americans or native peoples of any country or world. Or read a novel in which the hero or heroine is a settler, helping to forge a community in a new place. Oklahoma is also known as the center of the “Bible Belt.” Read a romance in which the hero or heroine has or had a religious vocation, such as pastor, minister, priest, nun, etc. Or, simply read an inspirational romance.

9. Utah Utes – One of the interesting facts about Utah is that it has the youngest population of any of the United States, partially as a result of a high birth rate. As of the last census, the median age of Utahns was 29.2, whereas the median age of Americans overall is 37.7. In acknowledgement of this, read a young adult or new adult romance. Or read a romance in which the heroine is having a baby or in which the hero and/or heroine have young children. Also, Utah is known for its skiing and has hosted the Winter Olympics. Read a romance with a hero or heroine who works in a sport — as an athlete or otherwise — played in the winter such as football or hockey.

10. UCLA Bruins – UCLA is located in Southern California, which is famous for its entertainment industry. Read a romance set in the entertainment industry and/or one in which the hero, heroine, or both are involved in film, TV, or theater. Alternatively, another notable city in Southern California is San Diego, which is a big Navy town. Read a romance set on the ocean or near enough such that it’s an important part of the community in the story, like a beach town or an island setting.

11. North Carolina Tar Heels – North Carolina was named in honor of Charles I of England. In recognition of King Charles, read a romance set during his reign of 1625 to 1649 or simply read a romance set in the 1600’s. Also America’s largest home, the Biltmore Estate is located in North Carolina. Read a novel in which the hero or heroine live in a castle, chateau, or in which there is a winery on their property. Finally, the first African American member of Congress was born in N.C. Read a romance in which the hero, heroine, or both are African American or are a member of a minority in any country.

12. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Notre Dame is not only a university in the U.S., it’s a cathedral in Paris. Read a romance set in France or which features a hero or heroine who is French. Alternatively, in recognition of Notre Dame’s mascot, read a romance set in Ireland or involving a hero or heroine who is Irish. More specifically, the mascot is pictured as a pugnacious leprechaun. Read a romance which features fantastical characters or simply a romantic fantasy.

13. N.C. State Wolfpack – A wolfpack is group of people or animals that operate as a hunting and attacking pack. In homage to N.C. State’s mascot, read a romance where a group of characters work together as spies, crime solvers, or as members of the same team (like a sports team) or in a business. (Often you find these type of stories presented as a series of books by one author featuring one member of the team of the “pack” for each book.) Also, North Carolina is famous for the Wright Brothers. Read a romance prominently featuring a relationship between brothers or sisters in the same story, whether good or bad.

14. Louisville Cardinals – Louisville is the largest city in the state of Kentucky, named after King Louis XVI. Read a romance set during the reign of King Louis, 1774 to 1792, or simply read a romance set in the 1700’s. Kentucky is also known for its bluegrass music. Read a romance set in the music industry and/or in which the hero, heroine or both are singers or musicians. Finally, Louisville is known for its famous baseball bats, the Louisville Slugger. Read a romance involving a sport played mainly in summer, such as baseball.

15. West Virginia Mountaineers – Since West Virginia – “the Switzerland of the United States” — is known for its mountains and rolling hills, symbolic of that, read a romance where the hero or heroine goes from being at one of the highest pinnacles of their society to the lowest or vice versa. That is, they gain social/monetary status or lose it as a major part of the story. Also, Greenbriar, a resort dating back to 1778, is located in West Virginia. Read a romance set at a resort of some sort or a romance in which the hero, heroine, or both are on vacation as a major part of the story.

16. Xavier Musketeers – Xavier University is in Ohio and Ohio is known as the Mother of Modern Presidents, having sent seven men to the White House. Read a romance in which the hero, heroine, or both are politicians or work in politics. Or, read a romance where the leader of a country, whether elected or an ancestral ruler, is a prominent character in the plot. Or, since Ohio begins and ends with the same letter, read a romance with a word in the title that begins and ends with the same letter; for instance, “widow,” “eye,” “trust,” “river,” “twilight,” “remember,” “willow,” “escape,” “elope,” “tempt,” “yesterday,” etc. (Plurals do not count!)

17. As an extra challenge, since the “Sweet Sixteen” are the focus of “March Madness,” read any romance that debuted in March of any year, including 2016. (Google will be your friend.Wink