3/19/2013 3:11 P.M. ET
Back your team's hoops brackets and you could win
Play along with players, management, mascots during the NCAA tournament
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Rockies owner Dick Monfort is going with Steve Alford's New Mexico Lobos, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw likes Indiana, club presidents Michael Crowley of the A's and Dave St. Peter of the Twins have Louisville, and Reds phenom Billy Hamilton believes Duke will steal another national college basketball championship.
Among mascots, TC of the Twins has Syracuse all the way, Wally the Green Monster sees Gonzaga breaking through, and the Rockies' Dinger goes with Cincinnati. And on the general manager front, Dan Duquette of the Orioles takes Louisville and Minnesota's Terry Ryan has the Hoosiers.
College basketball's main event is about to get under way, and as always this annual rite that segues into Opening Day is a primary topic of conversation inside Spring Training clubhouses, around front offices and most definitely in offices and the lives of the average Major League Baseball fan.
So we figured you might as well have a chance to win something more, even if your own bracket gets busted. Each official club site is introducing its own Back a Bracket Sweepstakes, giving you a chance to back the completed Big Dance predictions of personalities on your own club while perhaps winning prizes. Find it on your team's site and enter by noon ET on Thursday, when the madness begins.
Select the bracket that you believe will be most correct. Points will be awarded to each bracket based on winning team selections. Be a backer of the bracket with the most points and you could win.
The Rockies, for example, give you a chance to win a table at the Mountain Ranch Club, and everyone who backs their brackets will receive a ticket offer for $16 Outfield Box tickets during the April 15-24 homestand at Coors Field. In addition to those picks by Monfort and Dinger, Colorado's title choices include Michigan State by trainer Scott Gehret, Indiana by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, New Mexico by infielder Jordan Pacheco and Miami by outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
This year's tournament is widely considered one of the more unpredictable in recent memory, and that is certainly reflected on the brackets.
Orioles closer Jim Johnson and second baseman Brian Roberts each are going with Kansas. That will make it interesting in their clubhouse, where catcher Matt Wieters has Duke winning and shortstop J.J. Hardy picks Louisville. Back a Bracket in Baltimore and you could win autographed memorabilia.
Dodgers fans can win four tickets to one home game this season. Besides Kershaw's pick, you have the option of backing third baseman Jerry Hairston (Louisville), outfielder Carl Crawford (Kansas) or pitcher Matt Guerrier (Ohio State).
Red Sox Nation is poised to win a meeting with a player or win tickets or autographed memorabilia. Pitchers Daniel Bard, Ryan Dempster and John Lackey all like Indiana, while first baseman Mike Napoli goes with the Hurricanes.
Like Butler? A's reliever Pat Neshek does, and that is hardly a surprise. He went there. Choose an A's bracket for your chance to win tickets to the 1973 World Series champions reunion game on April 27 and Reggie Jackson Bobbleheads.
Minnesota fans who enter can win an autographed Rod Carew bat. In addition to the brackets of St. Peter, Ryan and TC, you can see completed ones from eight players, half of whom like Indiana.
Reds fans can enter their Back a Bracket to win four Infield Box Seats and view batting practice at Great American Ball Park this season. Just choose a bracket filled out by Hamilton, third baseman Todd Frazier (Ohio State), pitcher Mat Latos (Gonzaga), coach Billy Hatcher (Georgetown), pitcher J.J. Hoover (Indiana), infielder Zack Cozart (Indiana), former Reds pitcher Tom Browning (Louisville) and public-relations guy Jamie Ramsey (Louisville).
If Frazier is picking the Buckeyes, then you might want to think hard about backing his bracket, based on experience. Last year, MLB.com had one player on each of the 30 teams fill out a bracket for their own friendly competition, and the only player who registered more total points than Frazier was winner Justin Upton, then of the D-backs but now with the Braves.
If you don't see your team's Back a Bracket Sweepstakes yet, then keep checking as they are each gradually being posted as the brackets are filled out by their participants.