The bracket is set. The road to New Orleans begins and for many of our Canadian ballers across the border, this will provide them with a chance to showcase their talents to the world. NPH will be keeping a close eye on all of the players throughout the tournament, but here is a preview of some intriguing first round matchups!
Florida State vs St. Bonaventure:
Hands down one of the most impressive conference tournament runs we have seen from both schools in awhile. The Bonnies are anchored by Mississauga’s own, Andrew Nicholson who has had an outstanding senior season. Against all odds, he led his team to the A10 conference championship and clinched a spot in the field of 68. FSU on the other hand has shown they are no joke, beating UNC and Duke twice this season. This game will prove to be a huge test for Andrew as he will face off against arguably one of the best defenses in the country and will have many NBA scouts tuned in to see how he will fair. The Bonnies also house two other Canadians on the roster in Matthew Wright and Chris Johnson.
Syracuse vs UNC Asheville:
Despite a semi-final loss to Cincinatti in the Big East Tournament, the Orange still earned a number one seed. Montreal’s Kris Joseph has been a vital part in Syracuse’s success. The 6’7 wing is a tremendous athlete who has definitely proven his worth this season. With Fab Melo ruled ineligible for the tournament, the Orange will need a huge contribution from Joseph if they want to make it to New Orleans.
Baylor vs South Dakota State:
Baylor’s, Brady Heslip has proven time and time again this season that you do not want to leave him open. The sharp shooter out of Burlington, Ontario has had an outstanding season shooting the ball and is a key part in the Bears offense. South Dakota State also currently has one Canadian on the roster in Taevaunn Prince.
Gonzaga vs West Virginia:
Holland Landing’s Kevin Pangos and Vancouver’s Robert Sacre begin their tournament run against a very gritty and tough WVU squad. This will be the first time that freshman, Kevin Pangos has experienced the bright lights in March and many are anxious to see how he will handle the pressure. Robert Sacre will need to be a dominant post presence if Gonzaga has any shot in making a deep run.
Indiana vs New Mexico State:
New Mexico State boasts four Canadians on their roster in Daniel Mullings, Hernst Laroche, Tyrone Watson and Renaldo Dixon. For the Aggies to upset Indiana, it will take a huge team effort to slow down freshman phenom, Cody Zeller. NMS quite possibly has one of the most underrated frontcourts in basketball and with great size and experience, they may just have the tools to beat the Hoosiers.
Texas vs Cincinnati:
In one of the most exciting first round matchups, the Longhorns will be up against a Bearcat team that has gained some serious momentum heading into the tournament. Texas will only go as far as their guards will take them. Toronto’s Myck Kabongo must be efficient on the offensive end and keep turnovers at a minimum if they want to stand a chance. The Texas bigs will also have to slow down Cincinnati star, Yancy Gates, who has been on a tear as of late.
Connecticut vs Iowa State:
We can’t ask for a much better matchup between two very different, but talented teams. The Cyclones open the tournament against a Huskies team that has all the talent in the world, but the question still remains, if they in fact have the chemistry to succeed. Don’t be surprised to see Brampton’s Melvin Ejim step up huge for the Cyclones like he has in the past.
Marquette vs BYU:
After rallying from a 25 point deficit against Iona Tuesday night in the play in game, the BYU cougars will be facing a team who many think are Final Four contenders. Toronto’s very own Junior Cadougan is Marquette’s floor general and will need to improve his play from the regular season if the Golden Eagles want to overcome a tough West Region.
Other Honorable Mentions: