March Madness returns for Makai Mason ’14 and Thomas Ryan ’15, who played together in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Yale but will now suit up for different teams this year.
The last time the two took the court in the Big Dance was truly one shining moment for Mason, who scored 31 points to lead the Bulldogs to their first-ever tournament win, a 79-75 victory over Baylor in 2016.
After two injury-plagued seasons to conclude his Ivy League eligibility, Mason continued playing this season as a graduate transfer for perhaps the team that scouted him the best – the Baylor Bears.
And he has been an integral part of the Bears’ success in his only season with the team. Despite missing six games due to injury, Mason leads the team in minutes per game, points, points per game, field goals, and free throws, and is second in three-pointers, three-point shooting percentage, and assists.
Mason has scored in double figures in 21 games this season, including erupting for a career-high 40 points in a win over TCU in February.
The Bears open tournament play on Thursday as a #9 seed against #8 Syracuse in a West region game in Salt Lake City. If they win on Thursday, they will most likely play #1 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Ryan has played in a reserve role in 15 games for Yale this season. The Bulldogs find themselves seeded #14 and will play #3 LSU on Thursday in an East Regional game in Jacksonville, Fla. The winner of that game will play the winner of the other first-round game between #6 Maryland and either Belmont or Temple.