Yonder Alonso, Eddy Rodriguez Have Madness For Miami

PEORIA, Ariz. — The alma mater of Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez and first baseman Yonder Alonso has appeared in 23 College World Series, of which they have won four. However, in men’s basketball, the University of Miami is seeking its first NCAA championship, something Rodriguez and Alonso are confident will happen in just a few weeks.

The Hurricanes are the second seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s East Region. They open play on Thursday against the University of the Pacific.

“It’s unbelievable. Normally we’re a baseball and football school and now our basketball team is getting close to maybe achieving that prize of winning the championship,” said Rodriguez, who was the starting catcher for the University of Miami before being drafted in 2006 to the Cincinnati Reds.

Despite Rodriguez’s devotion to his alma mater, he says he won’t be filling out a bracket this year. “I personally don’t [have a bracket]. I know that Yonder does and he’s a big Miami guy too, but if I was doing mine I’d be pulling for the home team all the way throughout.”

Alonso did fill out a bracket, and he’s definitely behind his former team. He picked the Canes to go all the way, predicting an 88-82 win against Gonzaga.
Alonso played baseball at Miami for three seasons, leading the team to the College World Series in 2008 as the No. 1 seed. That year Alonso was drafted seventh overall by the Cincinnati Reds, and was traded to the Padres in 2011.

“They’re getting better and better and finally they put it all together. I’m definitely pulling for them in March Madness,” said Alonso.

Luckily for Rodriguez and Alonso, the Padres have Thursday, the first full day of the NCAA Tournament, off. They plan to take advantage of that and watch Miami take on the fifteenth seeded Pacific Tigers.

Alonso is going to have teammates over to watch the game, while Rodriguez will watch the Hurricanes before attending a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game Thursday night.

Padres’ outfielder Will Venable shares March Madness from a different perspective. He played basketball at Princeton University and competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2004.

“Playing in the Ivy League you only get to play really big games when you go outside of the conference, but even some of the games we were able to play didn’t amount to half of what it meant to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Venable recalls about playing in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament as a junior.

“You realize how important it is not to just your team but to everyone around the country. It’s really something special to be a part of.”

With Princeton not making the tournament this year, Venable will be rooting for Georgetown, home to his former coach at Princeton, John Thompson III.

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