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Zakai Zeigler is one of many New Jersey athletes taking center stage in the NCAA Tournament. (Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

3 Exciting New Jersey Players To Watch During March Madness

Wake up, New Jersey! It's time for some Madness! At 12:15 PM Thursday, Michigan State and Mississippi State will tip off the 1st round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Two straight days of nonstop college hoops filled with thrillers, buzzer-beaters, and upsets will have the whole country glued to their TVs and ignoring their bosses.

Whether you have a bracket filled out, are betting on the games, or are just a huge college basketball fan, the night before “The Dance” feels like a sports fan’s Christmas Eve. 

The Garden State will only have one school representing them this year in St Peter’s, who squares up against Tennessee at 9:20 PM Thursday night. Even though the state has only one school in the dance, there are two Jersey Boys from other schools to watch. 

PG Elliot Cadeau, UNC (Bergen Catholic)

Cadeau grew up in West Orange and began playing his high school ball at Bergen Catholic before transferring to Link Academy for his junior year. Over at Link, Cadeau showed how great his court vision was. The junior dropped dimes to teammates like he had holes in his pockets, tallying 14 in a semi-final game. 

The orchestrating point guard reclassified to make himself eligible to play this year for the Tar Heels instead of joining the team next year as a 2024 recruit. The UNC Freshman has averaged 7.6 points per game to go along with 4.2 assists. The Tar Heels will take on Wagner at 2:45 PM Thursday afternoon.

Tennessee PG Zakai Zeigler (Immaculate Conception High School)

The junior point guard may be from Long Island, but he played some of his high school ball in Jersey. Zakai came to the Garden State to play for Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair. Coming out of high school, he was recruited by at least eight schools but landed in Knoxville with the Vols. 

Zeigler has been one of Tennessee’s top players coming into the tournament this year averaging 11.9 points a game to go along with his 5.8 dimes. When Zakai takes the court Thursday night against St. Peters, he will match up against his brother Armoni for the first time.

It will be must-watch TV for all fans of New Jersey basketball to see if the Peacocks can upset the Vols and Zeigler.

Alabama SG Aaron Estrada (Woodbury, New Jersey)

Estrada may be the top Jersey boy to play in the tournament, coming off a regular season that saw him average 13.5 points per game.

 Aaron will lace up on Friday for the Crimson Tide when they take on Charleston at 7:35 PM in Spokane, WA.  The Tide have relied on the postgrad guard this year as the 4th different school he has attended.

Estrada transferred from St. Peters, Oregon, and Hofstra before finding a home in Tuscaloosa this year. While he has bounced around, the one common denominator about this kid is that he can flat-out score. Whether it be on the East Coast, West Coast, or down South, Estrada has put up numbers no matter who he plays with.

Alabama finished the year at 21-11 and will need Estrada to be on his game if they want to avoid a 1st round upset to 11th-seed Charleston. 

Jersey Strong

Seton Hall may have been the biggest snub that a Big East and New Jersey school has ever seen in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Just because we have one team that's dancing doesn’t mean we can’t support the players that call our state home. Turn our backs on the Jersey Boys? Fuggeddaboudit!


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