March Madness takes root in Reds' clubhouse

March Madness takes root in Reds' clubhouse

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In one way each March, the Reds' clubhouse is no different than the typical office, college dorm or local gathering place. While there is work to be done, a watchful eye is on the NCAA college basketball tournament. On Selection Sunday, when brackets are set, players and coaches start making their picks.

For some, the rooting interests are purely personal. Reds manager Bryan Price went to the University of California at Berkeley and will naturally be pulling for the Golden Bears.

"Oh yeah, it's exciting," Price said on Sunday before the tournament was set. "I saw Cal and Stanford play up at Cal. It was the day before the Super Bowl. I went up and watched that game with [A's manager and friend] Bob Melvin. It was a lot of fun. We're both Cal alum."

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Earlier this month, Price took his daughter to a Cal-Arizona State game in Tempe and has definitely caught the fever for this year's team that he hasn't enjoyed since the days of Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray in the 1990s.

"Cal was down by 10 early in the second half to ASU and rallied and won. It's fun," Price said. "To have Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, two of the top high-school prospects in the country and they end up both going to Cal, it just doesn't happen often."

Reds outfielder Scott Schebler is a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is rooting for Iowa State. Backing the University of Iowa -- a top 25-ranked team this year like Iowa State -- was never a consideration. "Both my parents went to Iowa State. That's the obvious choice," Schebler said. "They're huge Iowa State fans. They've got season tickets for football and basketball. Big time Cyclones family, no doubt."

Schebler's parents, Deb and Jeff, make the hour-plus drive from Cedar Rapids to Ames for almost every Cyclones home game.

"My mom is a big Fred Hoiberg fan, so when he came over [as coach], we started going to more basketball games. Then they got good, and got really good," Schebler said.

Schebler lamented that Hoiberg moved on to coach the NBA's Chicago Bulls this season, but remains loyal to his college team.

"Once I get into baseball, I usually stop following. But obviously when March Madness comes around, I start following again," Schebler said. "The Big 12 is so deep this year. It's going to be a crazy tournament. I think there will be a lot of upsets this year."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.