This may or may not come as a surprise, but NBA players don't have much free time. Between practice, travel, games, community events, family obligations, and sleep, there's not many hours to focus on anything else. So while most of America is enamored in March Madness, the Trail Blazers are focused on finishing out the regular season.
But every now and then the players will have a spare moment to pay attention to the tourney, if for no other reason than to razz their fellow teammates and coaches. Here's a rundown of some of the potential trash-talking opportunities.
Mississippi State vs. Washington: This is the most obvious of all the matchups. Brandon Roy, UW royalty and only the second Husky to ever has his jersey retired, versus close friend Travis Outlaw, a Starkville stalwart and one-time Bulldog commit. The fact that Roy and Outlaw are so close adds extra intrigue.
(By the way, Trav and I talked a bit of trash last year when the Ducks and Bulldogs met in the first round, prompting this all-time quote from Mr. Outlaw:
"Mississippi State going to whip you. We bad. Ya’ll ain’t physical like us. We just big, you know what I’m saying? They produce studs, like myself. The state of Mississippi produce studs.")
Arizona State vs. Temple: Nate McMillan's son Jamelle is a freshman on Herb Sendek's Sun Devil squad, playing a primarily defensive role just like his dad. But just one seat over on the Trail Blazers bench is lead assistant coach Dean Demopolis, who was an assistant at Temple for 17 seasons under legendary coach John Chaney. You would think coach Dean would have some allegiance to a school after working there for almost two decades, but I'm guessing he knows Jamelle a bit, so he's probably rooting for the Sun Devils, at least publicly.
Texas vs. Minnesota: A battle of the Trail Blazers big men. Joel Przybilla was one and done for the Gophers, while LaMarcus Aldridge was one healthy season and done for the Longhorns. I get the feeling that LA's affinity for Texas runs a little deeper than Joel's for the Gophers, but that's just a feeling.
Utah vs. Arizona, Marquette vs. Utah State: These two matchups might actually bring the locker room a little closer. Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless both played for the Wildcats and assist coach Maurice Lucas played his college ball for Marquette Golden Eagles. So if nothing else, all three will probably be rooting against the state of Utah.