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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – One of the greatest things about the NCAA Tournament is how it can hit close to home, when you least expect it.
Alabama senior point guard Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points with three steals and two assists in No. 1 overall seed Alabama’s dismantling of No. 8 Maryland, 73-51, late Saturday night in the second round in front of 15,198 at Legacy Arena.
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The Crimson Tide (31-5) advances to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 round and will play in the South Region semifinal on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, at 22,090-seat KFC YUM! Center. Alabama will meet No. 5 seed San Diego State (29-6) at a time to be announced. The Aztecs beat No. 13 seed Furman, 75-52, on Saturday in Orlando, Florida.
Quinerly and Alabama reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 2 seed in 2021, but lost to No. 11 seed UCLA, 88-78, in overtime in Indianapolis. They are on the cusp again.
Jahvon Quinerly Has Deep Jersey Roots
But Quinerly is a native of Hackensack, N.J., and he has been talking Jersey Basketball as if it is the “Roll Tide” chant.
Fairleigh Dickinson, located 30 miles from Hackensack in Madison, N.J., just became only the second No. 16 seed in history to advance in the NCAA Tournament. The Knights beat No. 1 seed Purdue, 63-58, in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. FDU (21-15) plays No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic (32-3) on Sunday (7:45 p.m., Tru TV) to also reach the Sweet 16.
And No. 15 seed Princeton, located 57 miles from Hackensack in Princeton, beat No. 2 seed Arizona, 59-55, on Thursday in Sacramento. Then it reached the Sweet 16 with a 78-63 win over No. 7 seed Missouri on Saturday.
Jahvon Quinerly Grew Up Amidst Jersey Basketball Elite
“I used to live around the corner from FDU. Really excited for them,” Quinerly said Saturday after the win over Maryland. “I have a high school teammate who plays for them. Jersey is just different in March.”
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Quinerly played at Hudson Catholic High in Jersey City with FDU senior forward Daniel Rodriguez. And Hudson Catholic High is just two miles from Saint Peter’s. Yes, that Saint Peter’s. The No. 15 seed that shocked No. 2 seed Kentucky, 85-79, in overtime last year in the NCAA Tournament.
“Saint Peter’s made the run last year,” Quinerly said. “I was really excited for them. After we lost in the first round (to Notre Dame), I was rooting for them. I went to high school right around the corner from Saint Peter’s.”
“He’s got the shirt that says, ‘Basketball Needs Jersey,'” Alabama coach Nate Oats interrupted. “So, apparently, basketball needs Jersey.”
“Yes, sir,” Quinerly said. “Shout out to NJ Hoopin’ Crew.”
Alabama May Play a Jersey School
Things could get interesting for Quinerly and his Jersey roots in Louisville next week.
If Alabama beats San Diego State, it will play for its first Final Four against Princeton of Jersey. Princeton plays on Friday against either No. 3 seed Baylor (23-10) or No. 6 seed Creighton (22-12). Those two play Sunday (7:10 p.m., TBS) in Denver with the Sweet 16 on the line.
In the end, Quinerly is out to make history for Alabama, which has reached the Elite Eight only once to play the game for the Final Four. That was in 2004 when the Tide lost to Connecticut in Phoenix.
“Playing in the Sweet 16 and losing to UCLA two years ago, I remember that feeling,” Quinerly said. “I’m just going to let the guys know that. You know, we’re close. We’re very close, but we still got a ways to go.”
And then he can go home to Jersey with his NCAA Tournament stories.