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A Cubs-centric NCAA bracket, Part 1

There have been Cubs players and draft picks from various schools in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. Let’s look at some of them.

Former MLB player Rich Amaral, who was once drafted by the Cubs
Getty Images

Normally, I forget about this until it’s too late. The NCAA Basketball Tournament used to be my thing. My mom let me play hooky from school once during the tourney. It was equally unlikely that I’d ask, or she’d let me. DePaul was good then. My bracket, as noted, is very Cubs-centric. Schools that have had numerous (or successful) Cubs contributions since the mid-1960’s are rewarded. Those without are likely dispatched quickly.

I’ve decided to do this in multiple parts. That way, if another writer or fan digs the idea, they can spin their own version. I try to limit the rules, but I imagine there will be a 20-side die roll for each game, which is how I got the scores you will see below. The seeding has a part in who advances, as does the Cubs’ representative. Teams that play three games have to use three different players in those games. The representative, and how much Cubs success they’ve had, is rather useful.

The first part gets us through the introductory round, and posts matchups for Thursday and Friday. Teams with no Cubs player representative are at a massive disadvantage. Now that you’re totally confused, it’s on to Tuesday’s play-in games.

East Bracket

Mount St. Mary’s (no representative) vs. Texas Southern (no representative)

No Cubs prospect has been drafted from either school, nor has played at the big-league level representing either school. This is a dead-level coin-flip. Neither team has any remote edge over the other, by my rules, in any shape, form, or fashion. As such, both teams roll once for each half, and the winner advances.

TS 28, MSM 27 at the half.

Final score: MSM 61, TS 65. Texas Southern, without a Cubs player representative, advances to play Michigan in Part 2.

Michigan State (Dakota Mekkes) vs. UCLA (Rich Amaral)

Mekkes was drafted out of East Lansing in the 10th Round of 2016. That would give him, and his school, a huge edge over a team with no representative. However, Amaral played at the MLB level, albeit not with the Cubs. In this matchup, based on representative experience, the Bruins have a rather large edge.

Amaral was a second-round choice in 1983 by the Cubs, and was Rule 5’d by the crosstown White Sox, presumably just to annoy the Cubs. His major league career was mostly with the Mariners, along with some time with the Orioles.

UCLA 34, Michigan State 31 at the half

Final score: UCLA 67, Michigan State 59

UCLA gets BYU in Part 2.

West Bracket

Appalachian State (Kent Alexander) vs. Norfolk State (Deon Eaddy)

Appalachian State had Alexander drafted by the Cubs in the 22nd Round of 1986, well before teams audio-streamed games over the internet. Alexander was sent to Wytheville in the now dismantled Appalachian League, where he pitched in 12 games for a bit over thirty innings. Even back then, pitcher wins weren’t king. Alexander was 3-1, but his ERA was 5.46. Perhaps it was the 25 walks.

Eaddy was selected as a shortstop in the 17th Round in 1997. He played two seasons with the Cubs, advancing to Williamsport in the New York/Penn League. At that level, his OPS was .581, despite being as old as the average age level.

Neither team holds any advantage.

App. State 34, Norfolk State 33 at the half.

Final score: Norfolk State 62 App. State 59.

NSU gets Gonzaga next, with no player representatives remaining.

Wichita State (Kennie Steenstra) versus Drake (no representative)

The Cubs drafted Steenstra in the 12th Round in 1992. He moved through the system, and played briefly for the parent club in 1998. His four games at the top level gives Wichita State a massive edge over Drake, who has never had a player play in the Cubs pipeline.

WSU 30, Drake 30 at the half

Final score: Wichita State 72, Drake 58.

In a fascinating game next round, one figures Wichita State might go with Joe Carter against Southern California’s Mark Prior.

Next time


Michigan vs. Texas Southern

LSU vs. St. Bonaventure

Colorado vs. Georgetown

Florida State vs. UNC Greensboro


Texas vs. Abilene Christian

Connecticut vs. Maryland

Alabama vs. Iona


Baylor vs. Hartford

North Carolina vs. Wisconsin

Villanova vs. Winthrop

Purdue vs. North Texas

Texas Tech vs. Utah State

Arkansas vs. Colgate

Florida vs. Virginia Tech

Ohio State vs. Oral Roberts


Illinois vs. Drexel

Loyola (IL) vs. Georgia Tech

Tennessee vs. Oregon State

Oklahoma State vs. Liberty

San Diego State vs. Syracuse

West Virginia vs. Morehead State

Clemson vs. Rutgers

Houston vs. Cleveland State


Gonzaga vs. Norfolk State

Oklahoma vs. Missouri

Virginia vs. Ohio

Creighton vs. UCSB

Iowa vs. Grand Canyon

Oregon vs. VCU

Kansas vs. Eastern Washington

Southern Cal vs. Wichita State

Who do you see winning with Cubs prospects and big leaguers doing the heavy lifting?