21 Canadians to watch in NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament
We are over halfway into March, which means it’s time for U.S. college basketball to take over.
The men’s tournament, aka March Madness, has been growing in popularity over recent years in Canada. You don’t need to be a super fan to enjoy filling out a bracket and cheering for your “favourite” schools to victory. The men’s tournament, which kicked off on Tuesday with the play-in games of the first round, is now in full swing with 16 games today and another 16 tomorrow.
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Along with the increase in popularity, Canada has seen a big improvement in the quality of Canadian players taking part in the tournament. Well, it’s not just the boys anymore.
The women’s version of March Madness, which kicks off Friday with 16 games, has also seen an increase in popularity. Even U.S. president Barack Obama, who has always been a big basketball fan, fills out a bracket for the women’s tournament as well as the men’s.
Last year, Obama picked the eventual winners of the women’s tournament, University of Connecticut, and finished in the 98th percentile according to ESPN. He’s going with UConn again this year, partially because of the contribution of Canadian freshman guard Kia Nurse.
Similar to the men’s game, the amount of high-quality Canadian talent has seen a significant spike. This year there are 21 Canadian women who could see playing time by the end of the tournament, nine of whom have played on a Canadian national team before. It is possible that several of them will find their way onto Canada’s teams for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, the FIBA Americas women’s tournament in Edmonton this summer, and eventually the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Here is a list of the Canadian participants that you can cheer for and get to know from a list provided by Canada Basketball (listed by school-ranking-player; players in bold have played on a Canadian national team).
Connecticut (#1) – Kia Nurse
Dayton (#7) – Saicha Grant-Allen
Oregon St (#3) – Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner, Kolbie Orum
Green Bay (#9) – Megan Lukan, Kaili Lukan
Pittsburgh (#10) – Frederique Potvin
Gonzaga (#11) – Emma Wolfram, Kacie Bosch
Tulane (#12) – Caylah Cruickshank
Albany (#13) – Jessica Fequire, Cassandra Edwards
Boise St (#15) – Lexie Der
Oklahoma City Regional
Iowa (#3) – Christina Buttenham
Northwestern (#7) – Karly Roser
Quinnipiac (#12) – Sarah Shewan
Florida St (#2) – Adut Bulgak
Arizona St (#3) – Quinn Dornstauder, Isidora Pukovic
Nebraska (#9) – Esther Ramercier