2024 March Madness: Knicks guard Jalen Brunson stays true to Big East with championship prediction

by 24USATVMarch 30, 2024, 1 p.m. 20
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Three college teammates playing together on the same NBA team is an unfamiliar site for basketball fans, and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson is grateful to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo.

The two-time men's basketball national champion and 2024 NBA All-Star was roommates with Hart and DiVincenzo at Villanova while also getting to experience the highest accomplishments with them on the court.

“It’s something that you don’t really see every day, for sure,” Brunson exclusively told NBC. “It’s really special just because I’ve seen how hard these guys work and then to remember all the practices and things we went through in college just to see where are now in our lives.”

Looking at the teams remaining in the 2024 men's NCAA tournament field, Brunson recollected his favorite March Madness memories at Villanova while sharing his championship pick.

So, who will cut down the nets in Glendale on Monday, April 8? Let's hear it from the 2018 national collegiate player of the year:

“I’m going to go with a Big East team to win for the men’s side — UConn is my prediction," Brunson said.

The Huskies, the defending national champions, have won five men's NCAA tournament championships to put the program in a tie with Duke and Indiana for fourth most in the history of the sport.

Brunson was part of the 2016 and 2018 Villanova basketball teams that won the NCAA Tournament.

Still playing with DiVincenzo and Hart six years later has given the Knicks trio the nickname, “NovaKnicks.” Ryan Arcidiacono, also a 'Nova teammate, spent time with the Knicks but currently plays for the Windy City Bulls of the NBA G League.

But the bond goes beyond the basketball court.

The 27-year-old vividly remembers his early college days with his teammates. He said the competitive edge was largely built by playing video games.

“Video games were definitely heavy in our lives,” he said. "I definitely remember us get so competitive, no punches would be thown but there would be a little shoving and words said to each other to kind of get under each other’s skin."

Brunson, a New Jersey native, was drafted in 2018 to play for the Mavericks where he helped lead Dallas to the Western Conference finals. He went on to sign as a free agent with the Knicks in 2022, making him the first in the pack to arrive in the Big Apple. DiVincenzo, Hart and Arcidiacono all joined Brunson in New York in 2023.

In the world of hoops, where memories are etched in the hardwood and camaraderie is forged through sweat and shared victories, the “NovaKnicks” legacy lives. It’s a testament to friendship, fierce competition, and the indelible bond formed by roommates turned teammates.

New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson loves basketball. Whether playing in the NBA or for USA Basketball, it's his first love. But what comes after hoops may surprise you.

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