NCAA madness adds to clubhouse atmosphere

Players enjoy emotion, unexpected moments of tournament

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is a great time of year in the D-backs' clubhouse. Players are working hard, but there is optimism about a new season and a more relaxed atmosphere in games.

And then there is the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"I just love it," D-backs pitcher Archie Bradley said. "It's like magic, a magical time of year. You've got these teams that 90 percent of the population has never even heard of and they get in the tournament and get to play on the big stage."

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The team that Bradley roots hardest for, the Oklahoma Sooners, are not one of those unknowns. Instead they will be a No 2 seed in the tournament despite a wild loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Conference tournament last week.

"They're good," said Bradley, who had signed a letter of intent to play football at OU before being drafted by the D-backs. "They've got a shot. Well, as long as no one runs a full-court press like West Virginia did."

D-backs reliever Daniel Hudson has been a Duke Blue Devils fan since he was a little boy growing up about a three-hour drive from Durham, N.C.

"I can't tell if we're going to be good or not because we've been very inconsistent this season," Hudson said of Duke's tourney chances (No. 4 seed). "So I have no clue how far we can go. It's either one of those teams that could go out in the first round or surprise everybody and go to the Final Four."

One thing he is sure about is just how much he loves March.

"I love college basketball and to have baseball and college basketball going full bore is probably the best time of the year," he said.

D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock played baseball at Notre Dame (No. 6 seed), but grew up in Connecticut as a UConn (No. 9 seed) fan.

"I love watching the tournament," Pollock said. "Notre Dame is No. 1 and UConn is No. 2 for me."

After Selection Sunday you can count on the D-backs having their own selection day come Monday when the bracket pools start up.

"It's fun in here because everyone gets their brackets and everyone has their teams and there's a lot of talk back and forth," Bradley said.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.