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Chase Utley, Justin Verlander and other MLB stars rooting for March Madness bubble teams

MLB is relatively impervious to standings conjecture. The teams with the most wins at the end of the season make the postseason. End of discussion.

College basketball isn't so cut and dry. There's a ranking system, wins against good teams count more than wins against bad teams and some analyst wrote an RPI algorithm on his dorm room window like he was trying to invent Facebook or whatever.


But that subjective nature is part of college basketball's charm, especially on the Ides of March when the ostensibly omniscient Selection Committee will grant 68 teams passage into March Madness and banish everyone else to play in consolation tournaments in cities where basketball is an afterthought to happy hours and new episodes of The Walking Dead, probably.

Clubhouses across MLB are filled with stars who honed their craft at the finest higher learning institutions in the great U.S. of A and many of them will have rooting interests in how the Selection Committee rules on Sunday.

Last Four In


The best former Longhorn currently employed as a Major League Baseball player is Angels closer Huston Street. He also happens to be one of the greatest college baseball closers ever. A Longhorn from 2001-'04, Street was an All-American every season with the team. He set a record for most saves in a single College World Series and led the team to a National Championship in 2002. He was also named to the NCAA College World Series Legends Team back in 2010.

In 10 seasons in MLB, Street has maintained a 2.82 ERA and amassed 275 saves for the Athletics, Rockies, Padres and Angels.


There is no current Temple alum in MLB, but former Owl Bobby Higginson enjoyed a 10-year career with some odd/amazing occurances. Higginson homered in four consecutive at-bats in 1997 (there were some walks in between, though). He also broke up a would-be Roy Halladay no-hitter in the ninth inning of Halladay's second career appearance with a pinch-hit home run. Go Owls?


There were 10 former Hurricanes who played in the bigs in 2014, including Yasmani Grandal and Jemile -- I'ma let me finish, but Mike Piazza was the greatest Hurricane of all time! Oddly enough, Piazza probably won't be rooting for the Hurricanes, though, as he was cut from their 1985 National Championship team. He went on to play for Miami-Dade Community College ... and the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres and Athletics. 

His .308 lifetime average, 427 home runs and 59.4 career WAR put him in the conversation for being one of the best offensive catchers in MLB history.

Ole Miss

Before he was an integral part of the Cardinals perennial powerhouse pitching staff, Lance Lynn was dicing up hitters in the SEC for Ole Miss. He holds the school records for single-season and career strikeouts and was named to the All-SEC Second Team in 2006 and 2007. 

First Four Out


The best former Bruin currently playing for an MLB team is Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley. Strangely enough, former Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell (remember 4th and 26?) was on the UCLA baseball team with Utley and introduced him to a woman named Jennifer Cooper. Cooper is now Mrs. Utley. Small world, huh?


Baseball's biggest Justin Timberlake fan is also its best former BYU Cougar: Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. As a freshman in 1998, Guthrie threw 64 2/3 innings over 16 games for the Cougars. He didn't pitch as a sophomore and transferred to Stanford for his last two years of college ball, but remained a Cougars fan, as evidenced by the above Dickey V. tweet.


The most notable Tulsa graduate to ever grace an MLB field would be former Expos ace Steve Rogers. Rogers -- now a special assistant for Major League Baseball Player's Association -- pitched for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the 1971 College World Series.

He later beat Steve Carlton and the Phillies twice in the 1981 NLDS, but gave up a game-winning home run to Rick Monday while pitching in relief in Game 5 of the NLCS.


Two-time Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year Tim Stauffer went to the University of Richmond through his junior year and enjoyed nine years with the Padres before signing with the Twins this offseason. But the best former Spider in MLB history is current MLB Network analyst Sean Casey. 

Last year, Casey was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Richmond held "Sean Casey Appreciation Day."

Next Four Out


If you're looking for the Fighting Illini to be represented in Major League Baseball, you'll have to look to the back end of the Nationals' rotation (or in their bullpen) to check out 28-year-old Tanner Roark. He only played two years of college ball before the Rangers selected him in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but Roark looked more than poised over the last two seasons with the Nats.

He's thrown 252 1/3 innings over 45 appearances and surrendered a measly 72 earned runs. 

Texas A&M

MLB's own Fozzie Bear meme is the best current Aggie in the bigs. Louisville Slugger named the 2013 NLCS MVP a freshman All-American when he was at Texas A&M back in 2010. Wacha spent time on the DL in 2014, but an MRI this offseason came back clean and he's gearing up for what could be a big 2015.

Murray State

Murray State is a little thin on MLB talent, but Kirk "Woody" Rueter is the exception. Rueter amassed a 130-92 while maintaining a 4.27 ERA over 13 seasons with the Expos and Giants. He started Game 4 of the 2002 World Series for the Giants and earned a win over the Angels.

He's a member of the Murray State University Racers Hall of Fame, class of 2002.

Old Dominion

The biggest Monarch in MLB right now also happens to be the best ODU alum to ever play in the bigs: Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. Before he had a Cy Young on his mantel and Kate Upton on his arm, Verlander struck out 427 batters in 335 innings for Old Dominion.