Where to find Naperville area basketball stars in March Madness

Chris Conway is one of several former Naperville basketball players competing in March Madness
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March Madness is always one of the highlights of the sports calendar with the arrival of the men’s and women’s NCAA tournament. This spring, the Naperville area will be well represented in both March Madness tournaments as six local athletes hope for a Cinderella run for the National Championship!

Two former DVC rivals compete in the men’s NCAA tournament

On the men’s side, one of Neuqua Valley’s all-time leading scorers, John Poulakidas is heading to March Madness for the second time in his career with the Yale Bulldogs. Yale won the Ivy League tournament championship in thrilling fashion on a last second buzzer beater over Brown. The 13th seeded Bulldogs will have a tough test against the 4 seed in the East region, Auburn, the SEC tournament champions. Tipoff is scheduled for Friday, March 22nd at 3:15pm.

The junior is averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 39% from three. The former Wildcat star led his team with 18 points in Yale’s championship game victory over Brown.

A former DVC rival of Poulakidas is making his NCAA tournament debut this week as former Naperville Central standout Chris Conway helped the Oakland Grizzlies make the March Madness bracket for the first time since 2011 by winning the Horizon League tournament. Oakland enters the 2024 tournament as a 14 seed in the south region and will face the 3 seed, Kentucky. Tipoff is scheduled for Thursday, March 21st at 6:10pm.

The former Redhawk is averaging 10.1 points per game for the Grizzlies this season, and scored 11 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in his team’s Horizon League championship victory over Milwaukee. Conway is the first player coached by recently retired Naperville Central head coach Pete Kramer to make the NCAA tournament.

Senior Malik Hall from Michigan State spent his freshman and sophomore high school seasons at Metea Valley, before transferring to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for three years. Hall is playing in his fourth NCAA tournament with the Spartans, who kick off the tourney against Mississippi State at 11am on Thursday, March 21st.

Benet Academy and Naperville North with multiple alums in the women’s bracket

In the women’s bracket, former Benet Academy standout Kendall Moriarty is heading to the NCAA tourney with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska earned the 6 seed in the Albany 1 region and will face the 11 seed, Texas A&M. Tipoff is scheduled for Friday, March 22nd at 9:30pm.

The former Redwing is averaging 3.2 points per game for the Huskers, who finished as the runner up in the Big Ten tournament last weekend.

A former teammate of Moriarty is also ready to make her mark in March as 2023 Ms. Illinois Basketball, Lenee Beaumont and the Indiana Hoosiers earned a 4 seed in the Albany 1 region. Indiana will take on Fairfield, the 13 seed. Tipoff is scheduled for Friday, March 22nd at 12:30pm.

Beaumont is averaging 3.0 points per game in her freshmen campaign with the cream and crimson. Indiana finished the Big Ten regular season with a third place finish.

Also playing in the same Albany 1 region is former Naperville North star Mackenzie Hare and the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette enters the tournament as a 10 seed and will face the 7 seed, Ole Miss in the first round. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 23rd at 3:45pm.

The sophomore is averaging 14.1 points per game for the Golden Eagles including an impressive 43% from beyond the arc. Marquette finished the Big East regular season in third place.

Another former Naperville North superstar is back in March Madness is Greta Kampschroeder and the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is the 9 seed in the Portland 3 region and will face the 8 seed, Kansas in the opening round. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, March 23rd at 1:00pm.

The former Huskie is averaging 2.4 points per game in her junior season with the maize and blue. It’s the second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Kampschroeder with the Wolverines, who finished in 7th place in the Big Ten standings this season.

Other local teams to watch this March

In addition to our local players, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University are both back in March Madness on the men’s side. The Fighting Illini won the Big Ten tournament championship and enter the tourney as the 3 seed in the East region against the 14 seed, Morehead State. Their opening round game will tip off on Thursday, March 21st at 2:10pm.

Northwestern is making back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time ever and for just the third time in school history. The Wildcats enter as the 9 seed in the East region and will face the 9 seed Florida Atlantic in the opening round. FAU made a surprise run to the Final Four a season ago.

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