The field has narrowed in the 2023 Tournament, down to just sixteen teams competing for the 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, and two Bradley Beal Elite alums and their teams are still standing.
Both are not far removed from their BBE playing days as both are college freshman: Brandon Miller with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Nick Smith Jr. with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Five BBE alums entered the tournament, and the first of them to participate in a game was Phillip Russell who led Southeast Missouri State into a play-in game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Phillip had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, and added five steals, but it wasn’t enough as SEMO fell to Corpus Christi 75-71.
Two days later, three more players were in action, all of them helping their teams move on.
Brandon Miller and No. 1 seed Alabama dismantled No. 16 seed Texas A&M Corpus Christi 96-75. A few hours later, Nick Smith Jr. and No. 8 Arkansas moved on with a 73-63 win over No. 9 Illinois. Kale Catchings and No. 5 Duke also advanced with a 74-51 win over No. 12 Oral Roberts. Catching came off the bench late and tallied two points.
On Friday, Nick Kern Jr. and No. 12 VCU had No. 5 Saint Mary’s on upset alert, but they eventually lost 63-51. Nick made both of his attempts from the field for 5 points, and added two rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
Kale Catchings and Duke were unable to advance to the Sweet 16, falling to No. 4 Tennessee 65-52 on Saturday. But Brandon helped Alabama defeat No. 8 Maryland with 19 points and seven rebounds in a 73-51 win to advance. Shortly thereafter, Nick Smith Jr. and Arkansas locked in a heartstopper with No. 1 Kansas and pulled off a major upset with a 72-71 to send home one of the tournament favorites, the defending champion Jayhawks.
Arkansas will be back in action on Thursday, March 23, trying to continue a magical run when they face the No. 4 seed University of Connecticut at 7:15 p.m. on CBS. Alabama will tip-off Friday’s action at 6:30 p.m. ET against No. 5 seed San Diego State.