With 41 points and 20 rebounds across two games, sophomore AJ Brodeur played the most important role of all in bringing Penn men's basketball to March Madness for the first time since 2007.

Credit: Chase Sutton

He might not have vacationed to some exotic island, but AJ Brodeur may have had the best spring break out of anyone at Penn. 

The sophomore forward was a star among stars for Penn men’s basketball, leading the team to an Ivy League Championship and punching Penn’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament. 

In the tournament’s first round, the Quakers matched up with Yale and soundly defeated the Bulldogs, 80-57. From start to finish, Penn dominated, and Brodeur was a major reason why. 

The unanimous All-Ivy first team selection scored a team-high of 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, which also led the team. Simply put, he was the best player on the floor, and Yale had no answer for him. 

However, the relative ease of the semifinal game did not carry over to the final tournament, a matchup against top-seeded Harvard. In a dramatic back-and-forth contest, Penn prevailed, winning 68-65 in front of a raucous crowd at the Palestra. 

Standout performances include Darnell Foreman’s 19 first-half points, Caleb Wood’s game-changing threes, Ryan Betley’s clutch free throws, and of course, AJ Brodeur’s outstanding two-way effort. 

On the offensive end, Brodeur was a force all game long. Whenever Penn’s offense stalled or stuttered, the Quakers threw the ball in the post and let Brodeur go to work. And work he did. 

The star sophomore totaled 16 points on an efficient 8 for 14 shooting clip from the field. His array of post moves combined with impressive brute force was too much for Harvard’s men to contend with. 

Credit: Chase Sutton and Christine Lam

Additionally, he was just as important to the Quakers’ efforts on the less glamorous side of the court, where he battled with Harvard star Chris Lewis throughout the contest, altering the opposing player's shots on numerous occasions. The play between the two was as physical as the officiating would allow, but it hardly seemed to faze Brodeur, who never relented even as the time wore on.   

These efforts obviously did not go unnoticed, as, in addition to winning DP Sports Player of Spring Break, Brodeur was named the Ivy League Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.  

However, while post-break plans for most of his fellow students are headlined by homework and studying, Brodeur has a chance to make his first week back even better than his spring break, as his Quakers travel to Wichita on Thursday to play No.1 Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.  

Could this matchup be the first in NCAA men’s basketball tournament history in which a 16 seed defeats a one seed?

That remains to be seen, but if the Quakers were to pull off such a monumental feat, they’ll need AJ Brodeur to replicate his stellar weekend.

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