Raiders Players Gear Up For March Madness Tournament

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It's that time of year when college basketball fever is at an all-time high.

March Madness officially kicks off Thursday, and will feature an abundance of talented players and teams competing for the coveted championship trophy. A champion won't be declared until April 3 in Phoenix, but part of what makes the tournament so special is the amount of school pride, Cinderella stories, and the overall journey to the Final Four.

While players on the Oakland Raiders specialize in football, they certainly appreciate the game of basketball, and have no problem expressing just that.

There are currently 20 players on their team with their alma mater participating in the "Big Dance," let's take a quick look at each squad before tournament play officially gets underway.

Kansas (No. 1 West Seed) – Linebacker Ben Heeney and cornerback Dexter McDonald are both proud Jayhawks and will be supporting their school, as the team looks poised to make a deep run in the tournament.

Duke (No. 2 East Seed) – Just two years removed from winning it all, tight end Cooper Helfet's Duke Blue Devils are seeking their sixth championship, and have a good shot at achieving that goal.

Florida St. (No. 3 West Seed) – Defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., center Rodney Hudson, and kicker Sebastian Janikowski are all Seminoles, who will square off against Florida Gulf Coast University in the Round of 64.

Florida (No. 4 East Seed) – Gator alumni Reggie Nelson and Neiron Ball will be showing love for the blue and orange, as they take on Eastern Tennessee.

West Virginia (No. 4 West Seed) – If there's anyone who's proud of being a Mountaineer it's linebacker Bruce Irvin who joined the Silver and Black a season ago, along with safety Karl Joseph.

Purdue (No. 4 Midwest Seed) – The Boilermakers might not be the hottest pick in the tournament to win it all, but don't tell tight end Gabe Holmes that.

Iowa State (No. 5 Midwest Seed) – Guard Kelechi Osemele and center Oni Omoile might be the best pair of cousins to come out of Iowa State, and certainly give the school a good name. It'll be interesting to see how things shake out for them against the University of Nevada.

Cincinnati (No. 6 South Seed) – In his first season with the Raiders, wide receiver Johnny Holton served as a good special teams player, and showed that the Bearcats can play more than just basketball.

Miami (No. 8 Midwest Seed) – Guard/center Jon Feliciano and tight end Clive Walford both proudly represent the "U"; look for their alma mater to take on Connor Cook and Shilique Calhoun's alma mater, Michigan State, in the Round of 64.

Arkansas (No. 8 South Seed) – Denver Kirkland is currently the only active player on the Raiders to represent Arkansas in the tournament. They'll take on ninth seed Seton Hall this Friday in what could be an interesting match.

Michigan State (No. 9 Midwest Seed) – Quarterback Connor Cook and linebacker Shilique Calhoun led the Spartan football team to a College Football Playoff berth, but we'll see if the basketball team can go far in the tournament.

Oklahoma State (No. 10 Midwest Seed) – Defensive end Jimmy Bean's Cowboys will square off against the Michigan Wolverines in the first round.

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