While the Philadelphia 76ers have an off-day Friday, that doesn’t mean the players won’t be fired up for some exciting action on the hardwood. After the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament officially tipped off with the “First Four” round Thursday, a full slate of first round games beginning around noon and lasting past midnight on the East coast will keep much of the country glued to their television sets leading into the weekend.
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Though some Sixers players may not have their former college team in the field of 64 (looking at you Seth Curry), that doesn’t mean that many of the current NBAers won’t have a rooting interest over the next few days and weeks. Let’s look at which programs some of the 76ers players might be rooting for during this addition of “March Madness.”
Tar Heels Likely to Get Love From Multiple Players
According to Basketball Reference, of the 17 players on the current Sixers’ roster, 13 of them played college basketball in the United States. Of those, two players (Danny Green and Tony Bradley) attended the University of North Carolina and for arguments sake, would likely be rooting for the Tar Heels.
Green played four years for coach Roy Williams’ program and captured the national title during his senior season in 2009. Bradley was a “one-and-done” student-athlete at UNC, but also won a championship when he was there in 2017. UNC is the No. 8 seed in the South region and takes on No. 9 Wisconsin on Friday night.
In the remaining group of 11 Sixers players, no school has more than one representative on the squad, but many former Division I players are now with the NBA club. All-Star snub Tobias Harris is now tearing it up in Philadelphia, but he also played one season under then head coach Bruce Pearl at the University of Tennessee and would assumedly be pulling for the Volunteers. Tennessee is the No. 5 seed in the Midwest region and takes on No. 12 Oregon St. on Friday.
While neither defensive stud Ben Simmons nor MVP candidate Joel Embiid were born in the United States, both attended American schools, going to LSU and the University of Kansas respectively. They each played only one college season, but odds are that they will be following the eighth-seeded Tigers and fourth-seeded Jayhawks closely.
What Will Seth Curry Do With Tournament No-Show Duke?
The other remaining Sixers with their former college teams in the tournament include Mike Scott and rookie Isaiah Joe. Scott spent his entire collegiate career with the Virginia Cavaliers, who are seeded fourth in the West region and play No. 13 Ohio on Saturday.
Joe meanwhile will surely be rooting hard for the University of Arkansas, as he not only played for the Razorbacks, but grew up in the state as well. No. 3 Arkansas gets a matchup with No. 14 Colgate on Friday afternoon as a part of the Southern portion of the bracket.
Curry (Duke), Matisse Thybulle (Washington), Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), Shake Milton (SMU), Paul Reed (DePaul), and Rayjon Tucker (Florida Gulf Coast, Little Rock) all played for schools that are not in this year’s field, but could have other ways of finding who to cheer for. While Curry primarily played for the Blue Devils during college, he started with a season at Liberty University before transferring. The 13th-seeded Flames play No. 4 Oklahoma St. on Friday evening in the first round.
The rest of the 76ers roster (plus Dwight Howard, Furkan Korkmaz, Terrance Ferguson, and Vincent Poirier) could have a rooting interest in the tournament despite not have their former teams playing. Thybulle grew up in Arizona so could be watching No. 15 Grand Canyon closely, Maxey hails from Texas, which has five colleges amongst the field, Milton is from Oklahoma, which includes the tournament-bound Sooners and Cowboys, Reed is from the Sunshine State (Florida, Florida St.), and Tucker is from North Carolina, so could pull for the UNC or UNC-Greensboro.
Howard grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, so might very well root for Georgia Tech and Ferguson was born in Oklahoma, but went to high school in Texas and could have conflicting interests. For Korkmaz and Poirier, who are from Turkey and France respectively, Sixers fans surely wouldn’t mind them rooting for No. 16 Drexel, which is located in Philadelphia. The only other Pennsylvania team that made the field of 64 is Villanova University.