After an exciting week of NCAA in-conference tournament play, the 2024 NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament is finally here. The tournament’s 32 first round games will take place from March 21-22 and the Final Four from April 6-8. 

The tournament is a pivotal part of the year for college basketball fans and for the players, one of the biggest moments in their young career. 

This year, 18 Canadians look to leave a mark on college basketball’s grand stage playing for top schools across the United States including a few recognizable Canadian basketball players from previous tournament years. 

Zach Edey-Purdue

The dominant 7’4” center on the number one-seeded Purdue Boilermakers looks to redeem himself after a devastating first round exit in last years’ tournament. The Toronto native has shown nothing but improvement, leading the NCAA in scoring (24.4 points per game) while averaging a double-double (11.7 rebounds per game) in 33 games this season. Edey is currently the front-runner for the John R. Wooden award (most outstanding player) and will begin his tournament play in the Midwest Region March 22 against 16th-seeded Grambling State.

Ryan Nembhard-Gonzaga

The former BIG EAST freshman of the year for the Creighton Blue Jays received a junior guard transfer to the Gonzaga Bulldogs this season. Since then there has been nothing but success for the Aurora, ON native, recording his college career-best in points, (12.9) rebounds, (4.1) and assists (6.7) in 32 games for the Bulldogs this season. This vast improvement from his sophomore year has led Gonzaga to a 25-7 record and a fifth-seeded position in this year’s tournament. The Bulldogs will go on to face 12th-seeded McNeese State in the Midwest Region first round on March 21. 

Aden Holloway-Auburn 

The Auburn Tigers guard couldn’t have had a more impressive freshman season, averaging 7.6 points and 2.8 assists per game. Holloway led both freshman and sophomores on the team in scoring and played just over 20 minutes per game in 34 games this season. The five star recruit and 2023 McDonald’s High School All-American helped Auburn to a Southeastern Conference (SEC) title after a win against Florida last Sunday. After going 27-7 in the regular season, Auburn was given the fourth-seed and looks to defeat 13th-seeded Yale in the East Region on March 22. 

Emanuel Miller-TCU

The 6’7” TCU (Texas Christian University) forward has helped the Horned Frogs reach the NCAA tournament for its third consecutive season. The fifth-year senior and Toronto native has come a long way since his days as a Texas A&M freshman back in 2019. Averaging 15.9 points and a career best 2.7 assists per game, Miller has shown his ability to maintain an offensive presence for a team that has had struggles in their ability to score baskets.

The 21-12 Horned Frogs made their way into the tournament as the ninth-seed and will play eighth-seed Utah State in the Midwest Region on March 22. 

Quincy Guerrier-Illinois 

The 6’8” Illinois senior forward was a major contribution for the Fighting Illini in achieving the Big Ten championship title, scoring 13 points in the semi-final against Nebraska and becoming a reliable option for Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. The Montreal native continues to show consistency in his scoring shooting almost 50% in 34 games this season and his college career-best 38.7% in three-point percentage. Third-seed Illinois will meet 14th-seed Morehead State in the first round of the East Region on March 21. 

Tyrese Samuel-Florida

The dominant 6’10” forward of the Florida Gators has been nothing but exceptional for the team’s  high-powered scoring offense that currently ranks sixth in the NCAA for points per game. (85.1) Samuel displays his athleticism on both ends of the floor averaging 14 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.2 steals per game that helped lead his team to the SEC title game. The Montreal-born senior looks to compete for a national championship as the seventh-seed in the South region. 

Ryan Young and Luke Hunger both have flourished in their supporting roles for the Duke Blue Devils and the Northwestern Huskies respectively. Their contributions may not spark up the scoring production, but their abilities to achieve strong perimeter defense on limited minutes has

helped lock up a spot in this years’ tournament, with the Blue Devils earning the four seed in the South region and the Huskies ranking the ninth-seed in the East region. 

Junior guard Kobe Elvis and sophomore center Issac Jack of the Dayton Flyers have both been pivotal in their team’s ability to convert scoring opportunities at a much more efficient rate. The Brampton, ON. and Port Alberni, B.C. natives respectively, helped the team reach the Atlantic-10 championship before falling short in the quarterfinals to the Duquesne Dukes. The seventh-seed Flyers’ will take on 10th-seed Nevada in the West Region on March 21. 

Seniors Jaden Campbell and Sam Thomson of the Samford Bulldogs and Colgate Raiders respectively have both helped their teams secure conference titles and a trip to this year’s March Madness tournament. Campbell, the Brampton, ON native, has been an offensive juggernaut for the Bulldogs high-paced offense, scoring a career-best 28 points in the quarterfinal of their conference tournament this season. Thomson, from Kitchener, ON looks to contribute to the Raiders highly-disciplined defense that helped them achieve a five-game winning streak heading into NCAA tournament play. 

The Vermont Catamounts dominant 28-6 season has led them to their third consecutive tournament appearance after securing the America East conference championship. The 6’5” sophomore guards from Pelham, ON. and Ajax, ON. TJ Hurley and Sam Alamutu have both been well-rounded fits for the Catamounts. The 13th-seed Vermont will play its toughest challenge yet as they face off against the fourth-seed Duke in the South Region on March 22. 

The Grand Canyon Antelopes clinched the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship to give freshman point guard Marquese Josephs a chance to show his talents on the big stage. The Toronto, ON. native will start round one action as the 12th-seeded Antelopes take on the fifth-seed Saint Mary’s in the West Region. Lastly, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers junior Enoch Kalambay from Gatineau, QC. Duquesne Dukes freshmen Kailon Nicholls from Toronto, ON. and Long Beach State Beach Eli Djordjevic from White Rock, B.C. will all make appearances in this year’s NCAA tournament.

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