The NCAA Tournament kicked off in big fashion yesterday. Multiple Canadians helped lead their teams to big upsets. Gonzaga survived a rough first half to advance, and more is to come today. In addition to day two of the Men’s tournament, it’s also the start of the Women’s tournament. Which means we'll be following more Canadians as they represent the country in the Tournament. Lets go through the bracket!
On 9th seeded South Florida we have Aerial Wilson of Dundas, Ontario. The Sophomore hasn’t been used often this season but helped the team to a 24-8 season. It won’t be much of a surprise if they upset the 8th seeded Miami (FL) who only managed to go 20-12.
Speaking of Miami, they’re home to Toronto’s Lashae Dwyer. The Freshman has averaged 3.5ppg. Respectable numbers for someone who only sees 11 minutes of floor time every game. This is the only first round game that pits Canadian vs. Canadian, the game tips off today at 11:30am EST.
Tineya Hylton has only played seven games this season for Georgia, but she makes the most of the limited minutes she’s given. 2.3ppg on 33.3% might not be huge numbers, but the Toronto native is more than capable of contributing to wins the Lady Bulldogs.
Arizona is spoiled with Canadian riches this year. The men’s team has Bennedict Mathurin, the women’s team has Shaina Pellington of Pickering. Shaina has put up 10.9ppm, 2.4rpg and 2.3apg. Huge numbers for the Senior who could help the Wildcats rack up few wins in this tournament.
Iowa State is the 3 seed out in Greensboro this year. Aided by Izzi Singaro, a Freshman from Bolton, Ontario who has been shooting 40.6% from the field this year. They should be able to walk past 14th seed UT Arlington. If Georgia does their job, they could set up a great Canadian matchup in the second round.
Three different 1 seed teams feature Canadian talent this year. Overall number 1, South Carolina, boasts Laeticia Amihere of Mississauga, Ontario. The Junior has been lighting it up this year shooting 44.9% from the field. Opponents are going to have to try their best to run her off the three-point line. She’s even deadlier from deep, where she hit 55.6% of the time this year!
13th seeded Delaware is in tough against Maryland in the first round. If they’re going to upset their geographic rival from the DMV, they’re going to need role players like Brampton’s Jadaia Reid to step up and have the best game of the season at the biggest time.
The Lady Jayhawks could be playing in one of the closest games of the first round when they go up against Georgia Tech. Repentigny, Quebec’s Julie Brosseau could very well be the difference in the game. She’s been shooting 40.6% from deep and if she gets hot from the field, Kansas may earn themselves a date with Stanford in the second round.
Andrea Torres is one of three athletes representing Quebec in this year’s tournament. The Terrebonne native has been averaging 5.0ppg this year for Utah and could help them write this year’s "Cinderella Story".
Standing in Torres’ way is Latasha Lattimore and the Texas Longhorns. The Freshman has averaged 3.4ppg and 2.8rpb this season while averaging 51.9% shooting. She may only play 11 minutes a game, but playing that efficiently could very well help set up that previously mentioned second round matchup with Utah.
Stanford is the second number 1 seed who has a Canadian on the roster. Toronto’s Alyssa Jerome doesn’t see the floor much, averaging only 3 minutes a game and less than one point per game. In one of the weaker parts of the Tournament, Jerome may well have the best shot of any Canadian to find herself in the Final Four.
This part of the bracket stacked all the Canadian talent together. If all four teams win in the first round, they’d all play against one another in the round of 32. The team with the toughest task ahead of them is 13th seeded Buffalo. Adebola Adeyeye has been averaging just under 7ppg and just over 6rpg this year. A big game from her could be enough to topple Tennessee.
If Buffalo wins, they’ll likely run into Phillipina Kyei and 5th seeded Oregon. The Freshman from Calgary has only gotten a few minutes a game, but she’s been shooting damned near 52% from the floor this year. It’s likely that Oregon will make their way through the first weekend.
Another Calgarian has been dominant this year for 9th seeded Gonzaga. Yvonne Ejim has been putting up 10ppg and 5.6rpg while shooting over 50% from the field. This Sophomore eats up the paint and will need to play bigger than ever if she wants to get past this weekend.
Standing in Ejim’s way is top seed Louisville and Ottawa native Merissah Russell. The Sophomore doesn’t see much playing time. After going 25-4 this year, it’s likely that Russell is going to be the last Canadian standing in Wichita advancing to the Elite 8.
Faith Dut has been putting up modest numbers for 10th seeded Florida this year. One stat does stand out at first glance from the Junior from Vancouver has 100% 3-point shooting. She only took one shot from deep this year, but she made it. A couple more on Saturday could lead to a first round victory over State rival UCF.
Another Vancouver native, Jessica Clarke, is one of two Canadians playing for Washington State. Along with South Surrey’s Tara Wallack, the pair combine for just over 7 points and 5 rebounds per game. This is the only team in this year’s tournament with multiple Canucks
Montreal’s Kiandra Browne is the last of three women from Quebec playing this year. The Sophomore helped lead Indiana to a 22-8 season while averaging 3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, all while shooting an incredible 58.2% from the field!
The last Canadian on our list is UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards. The Kingston native played 30 games this year and put up 8 points and 5 rebounds a night while hitting 40% of the time from deep. There might not be a Canadian on the 1 seeded team in Bridgeport, but it’s the only place in the Tournament that could see a Canadian actually lead their team to the Final Four.