Well, we’re down to the Final Four. Leaving us with one more weekend of incredible College Basketball. On the Men’s side, we may not have any more Canadians to root for, but we may get to see Duke give Coach K a fairytale ending in his final season. Meanwhile, the Women's Tournament will provide us a Canadian Champion to celebrate! We just don’t know who she is yet...
Final Four breakdown - Men's
As mentioned, not a single Men’s team featuring a Canadian Hooper was able to advance past the Sweet Sixteen. Providence fell predictably to Kansas, the last number one seed in the tournament. Yet, that left three massive upsets across the board for the others.
Gonzaga, was the top seed in the whole tournament. They had their strongest season possibly ever and once again came up short. Andrew Nembhard may have tried too hard to lead his team to their first Championship. Forcing his way to 2-11 shooting and five turnovers in a loss to fourth seeded Arkansas. He’s withdrawn from the NBA draft twice to prolong his College career. It seems his next stop will be the League. Can’t wait to see him up in the big leagues.
The other number one seed to fall was Arizona. Bennedict Mathurin still holds the title of "Dunk of the Tournament". His 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists against Houston were a solid effort. Although, they weren’t enough to see his team through to the Elite Eight. Mathurin is looking like he'll be a lottery pick. So we’ve got two Canadian guards to keep an eye on beyond this tournament!
Possibly the biggest upset of the weekend was St. Peter’s. Once again, the Peacocks took out a team ranked significantly higher than them. It started with second seeded Kentucky, then seventh seeded Murray State and capped it off by ousting the third seed, Purdue (downing the biggest man in the tournament, Zach Edey in the process). Their defence must have played with the mantra ‘size doesn’t matter’ because they were able to hold Zach to just two rebounds on the night! He’s looking like he might be a late second rounder if he goes into the NBA draft. At 7’4”, it would be tough to imagine a scenario where someone doesn’t take a chance on the big man.
Final Four breakdown - Women's
The Canadian Women in this tournament might not have the big profiles or big minutes of their male counterparts. They are however in a class of their own... and have the victories to show for it! Every single Final Four team in the Women’s bracket boasts a Canadian on their roster. Meaning that we are guaranteed to celebrate a "Chip" this year.
Neither Alyssa Jerome of Stanford, nor Merissah Russell of Louisville played this past weekend. Yet, both teams advanced to the Final Four. They’re on opposite sides of the bracket. If I am being honest, I hope they both lose so we can have a finals matchup featuring two teams who put their Canadians to use!
South Carolina’s Laeticia Amihere had a solid showing against fifth seeded North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen. Putting up two points and grabbing three rebounds in the victory. When the stage got brighter in the Elite Eight against Creighton, that’s when Amihere decided to have her best game of the tournament! Nine points and 3 rebounds later, she was celebrating a victory and a trip to the Final Four. She’ll join South Carolina in taking on Louisville Friday at 7pm.
Meanwhile, Aaliyah Edwards of UConn (the Canadian "star" of the tournament) put up 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal against Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen, all while shooting a solid 50% from the field. Then when the Huskies went up against the top seeded NC State, she dropped in 10 points, grabbed 6 boards, dished out 2 dimes and got her hand in the cookie jar twice for good measure. She’ll be taking her shot at the Championship game Friday at 9:30 pm et when UConn takes on Stanford.