Mar 21, 2024 - Sports

A Minnesotan's guide to March Madness

Paige Bueckers dribbling a basketball on the left, Curtis Jones dribbling a basketball on the right

Paige Bueckers (left) and Curtis Jones are two Minnesota-raised players who hope to make a March Madness run. Photos: Lance King/Getty Images for Bueckers and David K Purdy/Getty Images for Jones.

The Gophers' basketball teams won't be playing in the NCAA tournament, but that doesn't mean March Madness won't have a little Minnesota flavor when it tips off Thursday.

Zoom in: There are dozens of players and a few coaches with local ties.

πŸŒͺ Curtis Jones, a Cretin-Derham Hall alum, averages double digits for Iowa State, which has a chance to make a deep run as a No. 2 seed.

  • Robert Jones (no relation) of Prior Lake, is also a contributor for the Cyclones.

🟠 Brooklyn Park's Dain Dainja has stepped into a major role for Illinois, which is a No. 3 seed with lofty ambitions. The 6'9" junior has averaged nearly 8 points over the past seven games.

🦑 Wisconsin is always a poacher of Minnesota's best players. This year's 5th-seeded Badgers have a trio who crossed the border: Steven Crowl (Eastview), Tyler Wahl (Lakeville North) and Noah Winter (Lakeville North).

🐾 Hopkins' Paige Bueckers, who has dealt with injuries following her phenomenal freshman season at UConn, leads the No. 3 seed Huskies in scoring.

πŸ€ On the sideline: Former Gophers coaches Richard Pitino (New Mexico) and Dan Monson (Long Beach State) won their conference tournaments and are hoping to be this year's Cinderella story.

  • Brian Dutcher, who played for the Gophers in the '80s, took San Diego State to the national championship game last year.

Reminder: You have until 11am to sign up for our Axios Twin Cities March Madness group on ESPN and enter a bracket for the men's or women's side β€” or both! We'll have swag awards.

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