Are you a fan of both baseball and March Madness? Then you are in luck! Spring Training not only brings excitement for the upcoming baseball season, but also a chance for players to show their NCAA men’s basketball tournament picks. Some Astros players even have a personal connection to the tournament as their alma maters made it to the big dance.
Outfielder Corey Julks from the University of Houston, who is representing a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, is confident his school can make a deep run. Meanwhile, outfielder Justin Dirden from Southeast Missouri State, a No. 16 seed in the South Region, knows his team faces an uphill battle but is rooting for them nonetheless. Catcher C.J. Stubbs from USC, a No. 10 seed in the East Region, predicts his team will make it to the Sweet 16. Relief pitcher Ryne Stanek from Arkansas, a No. 8 seed in the West Region, believes his team has the talent to make a deep run. And utility infielder/outfielder David Hensley from San Diego State, a No. 5 seed in the South Region, even has his alma mater upsetting a No. 1 seed in his tournament bracket.
It’s always fascinating to see how baseball players, who are usually laser-focused on their own sport, become fans of college basketball during Spring Training. It reminds us that these athletes are not just robots programmed to play baseball, but people with diverse interests and backgrounds. In fact, in 1991, Astros outfielder Kenny Lofton knew more about college basketball than any of his teammates, having played for the University of Arizona in the late 80s.
So, if you’re a fan of both baseball and college basketball, keep an eye on the Astros this March Madness. Who knows, maybe one of their players’ picks will turn out to be a Cinderella story. And if not, at least they had fun rooting for their alma maters in the meantime.