By David Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

Emory University Hillel is taking another shot at the National Hillel Basketball Tournament this spring.

Billed as “March Madness Meets the Maccabi Games,” the fifth annual tournament is the largest intercollegiate basketball tournament for Jewish students. This year’s event is expected to attract more than 1,200 people and 300 athletes from 35 universities.

Emory will have a team in the tournament for the second consecutive year.

The Emory Squad at last year’s Tournament

“It was such a great experience last year,” Emory team captain Jonathan Schonwetter said. “On top of the basketball tournament and playing in the playoff bracket, it was a weekend packed with events for everyone to see friends and meet a lot of new people.”

Emory was the only team from the Southeast at last year’s competition.

This year’s festivities at the University of Maryland will begin on Friday night, April 17, with Shabbat services and dinner for more than 500 students. The tournament will start Saturday evening and continue into Sunday morning at Maryland’s Reckord Armory and Ritchie Coliseum. Each team will play three games before moving into a single-elimination bracket.

Team registration for the competition opened Jan. 1 at hilleltournament.com.

“This event greatly impacted me as a young Jewish adult,” Schonwetter said. “There aren’t many things comparable to 300-plus Jewish people bringing in Shabbat and playing basketball for an entire weekend.”

The Emory team is seeking more players and will hold a tryout to finalize the roster. The team also is searching for sponsors; contact Schonwetter at jschonw@emory.edu if you’re interested.

“Any support from the Atlanta community can help a tremendous amount,” Schonwetter said. “As students, we usually have to limit our expenses while covering transportation costs. Last year we didn’t let the financial burden stop us from representing Emory and the entire Southeastern region.”