March Madness: Canadian Edition

Written by Rahsean Simpson

It has been 720 days since we’ve had a chance to experience March Madness, and it has been everything we’ve anticipated and more. With a record-breaking upset year, to blue chips like Duke and Kentucky not qualifying for the tournament. Through all the madness, one tradition that hasn’t changed is that Canadians are still making their presence known in the NCAA tournament!

With only 16 teams left, we have small window to watch these Canadians in action, but we will continue to shine the light on the Canadians who have come up big for their teams and those who are still fighting for that coveted National Championship.

The first Canadian to hit the hardwood was Mono, Ontario native Mathew-Alexander Moncrieffe of Oklahoma State. Mathew has had a great year for the Cowboys playing alongside projected first round draft pick Cade Cunningham. He carved a role for himself this year by being a reliable, high-energy player for the Cowboys, bolstering their long and athletic starting 5. His talent
was on full display in their first-round action against a well-respected and experienced team in Liberty University.
Mathew played a huge role in his first tournament experience in a scrappy win with a stat line of 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks. With hopes to keep the momentum going for the Cowboys, Mathew kept his rebounding and strong defensive play alive against fellow Canadian Maurice Calloo and a talented Oregon State team. However, the Oregon State Beavers were too much to handle for the Cowboys with a strong performance from Maurice Calloo.

Maurice has been a steady presence for the Oregon state Beavers. A 6’10 big man who can extend the floor, shooting 41% from the 3. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Maurice hit 2 timely 3-pointers to halt Tennessee’s come back. In the second round, against a very talented Oklahoma State team, he came up with his best performance of the season, finishing with a much needed 15 points and 5 rebounds to hold off the Cowboys and to keep their Cinderella story alive!

The Oregon Ducks who had missed their first game of the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, but they did not miss a beat, upsetting the #2 seed Iowa. The Ducks feature the Canadian Star duo of Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi. The duo of Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi came up huge for the Duck’s, carrying their team to the win. Chris Duarte displayed his offensive skill set leading the Ducks in scoring and assists with a line of 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists. Chris is a professional, he is a three level scorer and has the ability to set up his teammates. Eugene had an impressive all-around performance with a line of 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, while also being the primary defender on the Big-10 MVP Luka Garza. Eugene is the engine that allows Oregon to play small ball.Without his energy and defensive prowess, it would be hard to see the Ducks go very far in this tournament.

Freshman Joshua Primo of the Alabama Crimson Tide, returned from a sprained MCL injury, Josh was a game-time decision on Monday to play against Maryland, but not only did he play, he led the Crimson Tide’s bench. Primo had a very efficient line of 10 points and 4 rebounds, shooting 66.7% from the field and 50% from three in a blowout win against Maryland.

Vaughan native, Andrew Nembhard has been instrumental in the success of the 28-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs. Nembhard transferred from Florida and went from being a number 1 option on a mediocre team, to one of many options on a historically great team. This is a tough pill to swallow for any player, but Andrew relished the opportunity and has exceeded expectations. Andrew has been a calming presence all year for Gonzaga, bringing poise and leadership. Moving forward in the tournament, expect Andrew to come up big in the moments they truly need him.

With March Madness being the biggest stage for these student-athletes, we at The Northway would like to give a huge shoutout to all the players still fighting for that National Championship. This is a list of all the Canadian players who are still
in the tournament:

Nathanael Jack (Mississauga, Ontario): Florida State Seminoles

Andrew Nembhard (Vaughn, Ontario): Gonzaga Bulldogs

Keon Ambrose-Hylton (Toronto, Ontario): Alabama Crimson Tide

Joshua Primo (Mississauga, Ontario): Alabama Crimson Tide

Chris Duarte (Montreal, Quebec): Oregon Ducks

Eugene Omoruyi (Toronto, Ontario): Oregon Ducks

Aher Uguak (Edmonton, Alberta): Loyola-Chicago

Quincy Guerrier (Montreal, Quebec): Syracuse

Maurice Calloo (Windsor, Ontario): Oregon State

Elijah Lufile (Milton, Ontario): Oral Roberts University

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