It’s that time of year again folks, the time of buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and the desperate attempt to win your office bracket challenge. That’s right everyone, it’s time for March Madness!
Every week we are going to look at Canadian athletes competing in the tournament. We’re going to check in and let you know who put up a big game, who got sent packing, and who survived to fight another day! So let’s get started with a look around the bracket to see who’s representing the North down South this year.
16th seeded Georgia State has a tough go in the first round facing Gonzaga. The big man from Hamilton, by way of the Congo, Eliel Nsoseme, is averaging just under a double-double this season for the Panthers. He’ll have to play the game of his life if he wants to be on only the second ever 16 seed to upset a 1 seed.
The Montana State Bobcats are home to two Canadians this year. Abdul Mohamed, a Senior from Ottawa, and Freshman Kellen Tynes from Dartmouth. The first round matchup against Texas Tech may well be Mohamed’s last game in the NCAA. So we’re excited to see how he ends his collegiate career.
13th seed Vermont is home to the most Canadians in this years tournament with 3 Canucks on board. Eric Beckett, a third year guard out of Ajax. Georges Lefebvre, a second year player from Montreal. And Samuel Alamutu, a Freshman (also from Ajax) who hasn’t played this season.
New Mexico State is slotted in the 12th seed out West where they’ll play UConn. A tough ask for Marsei Caston, a 6’3” Guard from Windsor, Ontario. Caston isn’t the only Canadian on the roster. His teammate and compatriot, Clayton Henry of Calgary has been averaging 5.2 points while playing 23.8 minutes per game.
Emmanuel Akot of Winnipeg has been averaging 10.7 ppg this season for the 8thseeded Boise State Broncos. He’s joined by Abu Kigab, a Super Senior from St. Catherines who has been averaging a career best 14.7ppg and 5.8rpg. With these two on board it’s no wonder to see Boise State being picked so often to advance to the second round.
The most Canadian filled section of the bracket adds two more on the 6th seeded Alabama team. Keon Ambrose-Hylton of Toronto and Charles Bediako of Brampton will need to put up big games to avoid being upset by the winner of the Rutgers vs. Notre Dame play-in game.
Andrew Nembhard of Aurora has been averaging just shy of 12ppg and 6apg this year. He’s an instrumental part of Gonzaga’s starting five. They’re the top seeded team in the entire tournament and Nembhard has a solid chance to cut down the nets April 4th in New Orleans.
Eze Dike of Montreal, by way of Nigeria, has been averaging just under 5ppg this year in the Ivy League. He’s likely going to see only one game in the tournament, going up against 3rd seeded Purdue, but when the final buzzer goes off, Dike is likely going to have an incredible career ahead of him off the court. Yale graduates tend to do that.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper, a 6’8” Forward from Montreal has been averaging 6.3ppg on 45.2% shooting for 9th seed Marquette. A tall task lies ahead to escape the first weekend of the tournament. Up first is A UNC team that just beat Duke in Coach K’s last home game, and if they survive that, they’re almost guaranteed a date with reigning Champion, and current 1 seed, Baylor Bears.
6th seeded Texas will be depending heavily on Toronto native Marcus Carr. The 6’2” guard has been averaging 10.9ppg while playing 30.7 minutes a night. Both are a bit lower than last year, but none of that will matter if the Longhorns can make a run in the tournament.
Zach Edey is a BIG deal. Literally. The Sophomore from Toronto has been averaging 14.6ppg, 7.8rpg and has been shooting 65.5% this year, second highest shooting percentage in the NCAA. Standing at an incredible 7’4”, if you tune in and watch Purdue, you won’t be able to miss him on the court.
Caleb Houstan had a great Freshman year for Michigan. 10.5ppg and 4.0rpg is a great start for the Mississauga native. His 38.8% shooting from the field will likely need to be a bit higher when he goes up against Colorado State, but no one will be surprised if he leads the Wolverines to the first-round upset.
TCU has landed in the 9th seed this year, thanks in part to Emanuel Miller, a Junior from Scarborough. The 6’7” Forward has stepped up in big games this year, posting his season high in points against Kansas earlier in the year, a team that would go on to be a 1 seed in the Midwest. He’ll need to do even better if he wants to play past the first weekend.
Tyrese Samuel of Montreal will be playing against Emanuel Miller and TCU on Friday. The 8th seeded Seton Hall team guarantees that at least one Canadian will advance from the first round, at the expense of another. The winner of this match will likely play Arizona in the second round, guaranteeing at least one Canadian in the Sweet-16 this year.
Bennedict Mathurin is putting up just over 17ppg and 5rpg for Arizona. He’s been putting up monster numbers all year, including six games where he scored at least 25. No one will be surprised if Mathurin finds himself squaring up against Andrew Nembhard and Gonzaga in the Championship game.
Colgate is a 14 seed this year, and one of several teams with multiple Canadians. Malcolm Bailey, a Junior from Stratford, and Sam Thomson, a Sophomore from Kitchener, are combining for just over six points a game. Wisconsin may be ranked third, but Colgate bests them in almost every statistical category. Friday night is likely going to be a great game.
The Richmond Spiders also boast two Canucks. Matt Grace of Hamilton has been shooting 32.5% from deep, 46% from the field and an impressive 89% from the charity stripe. Meanwhile Nathan Cayo of Montreal has been chipping in with 8.7ppg 4.4rpg and 1.9apg, respectable numbers for the Senior.
Ryan Nembhard of Creighton may be best known for being the little brother of Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard, but this tournament is his opportunity to show the world what he’s made of. 11.ppg, 4.4apg and 3.1rpg are great numbers for anyone in the NCAA, but they’re even more impressive considering Ryan is just a Freshman. San Diego State needs to watch out for him, this matchup is widely believed to produce one of many upsets of the opening weekend.
Matteus Case of Pickering hasn’t seen much of the floor this season for the Providence Friars. He’s only played in three games this year, and only two minutes in each of those three games. You could say that he hasn’t missed a shot all year, but he’s only taken two. The team is a four seed, so Matteus may well see a few games in the tournament. Experience he can use to build a stronger Sophomore season.
Jahcobi Neath, a 6’4” Guard from Toronto, has only seen nine minutes a game this year as a Junior in Wisconsin. As a three seed in the Midwest, they could make a deep run, but no one would be surprised to see 14th seeded Colgate pull off a huge upset in the first round.
No matter what happens this March, the 2022 Tournament is a monumental moment for Canada Basketball. We’ve never before had this many Canadians participating in March Madness. So make sure you stop back every Wednesday, we’ll be following them all the way through April 4th when the National Champion is decided!