Cubs' school spirit runs high for March Madness

MESA, Ariz. -- Last spring, Cubs manager Joe Maddon and outfielder Matt Szczur had a little wager going because their respective schools -- Louisiana-Lafayette and Villanova -- were facing off in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Maddon's team is out this year, but Szczur is keeping an eye on 'Nova.

Villanova did lose to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament final, and didn't get a No. 1 seed in the tournament. Szczur, who played football and baseball there, does have a good sense of school history.

"The only thing I do know is in 1985, when the men's basketball team won the national championship, they lost in the Big East [tournament]," Szczur said Sunday. "So I'm pulling for them even more because I think it can happen. ... I'm curious to see if they can live up to the 1985 team."

Cubs outfield prospect John Andreoli was keeping an eye on his Connecticut men's basketball team.

"I have a lot of school spirit," Andreoli said. "I loved my time at UConn. Football is coming back a little bit -- when I was there, they went to the Fiesta Bowl. I follow all their sports."

That includes the powerhouse women's basketball team.

"The women, they beat everyone by so much, you could watch the first 10 minutes of a game and then it would get out of hand," Andreoli said. "Those games are a lot of fun. It's great for the school."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.