It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
It’s better than opening Christmas presents, and sweeter than candy on Halloween. It’s March Madness. It’s the time of year when all the best college basketball teams in the United States compete in a do-or-die tournament.
This tournament has a little extra sweetness for Canadians. This year has a plethora of talented Canadian players in the NCAA. Let this column be your Canuck guide as you get ready for the tournament.
First off, there’s the shining star, Andrew Wiggins, from Concord, Ont. The freshman has been a phenom for the Kansas Jayhawks this year, averaging 16.8 points a game as well as close to six rebounds. The Jayhawks could make some noise this year, and if they do, there is no doubt Wiggins will be a big part of it.
Then there is my own person favourite, Nik Stauskas from Mississauga. Stauskas came up big last year in the tournament for the Michigan Wolverines, and seems poised to do it again. The guard is in his sophomore year at Michigan, and is likely to enter the NBA draft. Michigan has the potential to be a championship team.
Another team with championship potential is the Syracuse Orangemen, who are led by freshman Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ont. Ennis is averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 assists for the Orangemen, and even when his shot isn’t falling he finds a way to impact the game positively. Even if Syracuse wasn’t my favourite team, I would still say they could go far.
If you’re a fan of watching tall men go to work, check out the New Mexico State Aggies. They are a long shot to win the tournament, but they have some talented Canadians on their roster. Sim Bhullar from Toronto stands tall at 7’5” which helps him block 3.4 shots a game, while pulling down 7.7 boards. Playing guard for the Aggies is Daniel Mullings, also from Toronto. The strong defender averages two steals a game, 16.8 points, and five boards. While they are unlikely to win it all, they could surprise some people.
Another likely tournament-bound team is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have a history of Canadian ballers. Last year Kelly Olynyk played for Gonzaga, and now plays in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. Now Kevin Pangos is lighting up for the Bulldogs. Pangos has been a big time scorer for the team with a killer three-point shot.
If you’re looking for a sleeper with a Canadian star, look no further than the Iowa State Cyclones. Melvin Ejim has been having an excellent year, averaging 18.2 points a game and 8.6 rebounds. He is a big-time player with NBA potential, and could be looking to improve his draft stock with some March Madness noise.
There are many other Canadians making an impact, and those are just some of the highlights. The most likely Canadians to go far are Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskis, but this is March Madness. Anything could happen. Melvin Ejim could lead the Cyclones all the way to a championship.
That’s the joy of March Madness. You never know what you’re going to get.
I’m pulling for a Syracuse vs. Michigan final. Let’s see what happens.
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