Canadians in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament, Part 1
For the first time in 2 years, an NCAA March Madness bracket was selected this past Sunday, and the old adage of “distance makes the heart grow fonder” seems to be true. Excitement is at an all-time high for this year’s tournament, especially for Canadian basketball fans, who will be sending 25 players to the Men’s tournament scheduled to begin on Friday. In this two-part series, we will direct our attention towards each of these collegiate ballers from north of the border.
Andrew Nembhard – #1 Gonzaga
Andrew Nembhard has been a key piece for the number one team in the country, winning the WCC 6th Man of the Year Award and averaging 9.2 PPG in 28 MPG off of the bench. Nembhard’s playing time has dropped since his transfer from Florida, but the experience of playing for a contender has elevated Nembhard’s game, and there is no doubt he will be a key piece in the big dance. Both Gonzaga and Nembhard look primed to make a deep run in the tournament, as they look for the first undefeated NCAA season since Indiana in 1976.
Gabe Osabuohien – #3 West Virginia
#3 seeded West Virginia will be an extremely tough out in this year’s bracket after an 18-9 regular season in a difficult Big 12 conference. Canadian Gabe Osabuohien has been a steady bench player for the Mountaineers, averaging just over 17 MPG, and contributing 4.3 RPG in that limited time. The senior forward will get the chance to end his collegiate career on the biggest stage possible, and will certainly see some action in their first game against Morehead State on Friday.
Zach Edey – #4 Purdue
Officially listed at 7’4, it’s hard to miss true freshman Zach Edey, and yet he spent most of the season off of college basketball’s mainstream radar. As Purdue began to find its form later in the season, the Canadian Center started to grab eyeballs. His towering stature creates countless matchup issues for other teams, and he will be a big focus on Purdue’s opponents scouting reports. As a whole, the Boilermakers are a popular pick to make a dark horse run in the tournament.
Keeshawn Barthelemy – #5 Colorado
The Colorado Buffaloes are heading into March Madness after a largely successful season in the Pac-12, and will face a very tough #12 seed Georgetown Hoyas team on Saturday afternoon. Canadian Keeshawn Barthelemy has gotten some playing time for Colorado in his freshman year, featuring in 28 games and averaging around 3.5 PPG. Barthelemy had a nice 8-point performance in the Buffaloes Pac-12 semi-final win over USC, and will definitely get some playing time later this week as Colorado hopes to defuse a possible upset threat.
Chris Duarte – #7 Oregon
The first of two Oregon Ducks to grace this list is Montreal-born Chris Duarte, who’s having an absolutely incredible season. Duarte has started in 22 games this season, and is averaging 16.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 2.3 APG. His 52.4% field goal shooting proves how efficient Duarte has been, and he will be a massive factor in how far this Ducks team can go. Coming into the tournament as a #7 seed, Oregon will have a tough first matchup against VCU on Saturday night, and there’s no doubt that Duarte will be on the court for nearly the entire game.
Eugene Omoruyi – #7 Oregon
The Oregon Ducks have had a two-headed monster in terms of scoring all season, and Duarte’s partner in crime has been fellow Canadian Eugene Omoruyi. The senior forward from Rexdale is also averaging 16.7 PPG, alongside 5.2 RPG and 2.2 APG in 30 minutes-per-night. His game seemed to find another level as Pac-12 play went on and his efficiency (especially in the 2 conference tournament games) proved extremely valuable. Much like Duarte, Oregon will need Omoruyi to be firing on all cylinders Saturday if they hope to advance to the second round and beyond.
Liam McChesney – #11 Utah State
Utah State has been near the bubble all season, and many experts were mixed on whether the Aggies would be selected into the tournament. Utah State was officially selected as an 11 seed this past Sunday, setting up an extremely tough date with Texas Tech on Friday. Canadian Liam McChesney has featured in a handful of games for the Aggies this season, but has mostly been a reserve in what is just his freshman season. This year’s tournament experience will be beneficial for McChesney moving forward, and Utah State is a great place for him to continue to grow.
Brandon Cyrus – #12 UC Santa Barbara
Brandon Cyrus from Oakville, ON has had a decrease in minutes in his senior season, but he still has a role on the first UC Santa Barbara team to make the dance since 2011. Cyrus averages 15.3 MPG, and contributes with 2.9 PPG in that time at an impressive 51% clip. Cyrus will get to end his career in the perfect way possible, at the NCAA Tournament, and will do so on a Gauchos squad that has potential to make a Cinderella run all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
Max Cheylov – #12 UC Santa Barbara
Max Cheylov is yet to make an appearance for the UCSB Gauchos yet in his freshman season, but will be on the tournament roster when the 12 seed dark horse play their first game against Creighton on Saturday. NCAA Tournament experience is always valuable, even for the bench players, and so Cheylov has a lot to gain from what possibly could be a multi-week stay in Indianapolis.
Sam Thomson – #14 Colgate
Although their schedule was extremely short due to no non-conference games, Colgate is entering the tournament at 14-1, and will have the potential to pull a shocker upset as a 14 seed. 6’9 Sam Thomson from Otterville, ON has gotten some minutes in his freshman year for the Raiders, and is making the absolute most of them. In just 8.7 MPG, Thomson averages 2.7 PPG and 1.6 RPG, and shoots an impressive 53.1% from the floor. Sam will certainly come off of the bench at some point for Colgate on Friday, in what will be an amazing tournament experience for the young Canadian.
Malcolm Bailey – #14 Colgate
He hasn’t featured in any games for the Raiders this season, but Colgate has another Canadian forward on the roster alongside Thomson: Stratford’s own Malcolm Bailey who is in his sophomore year. The tournament experience will certainly prove valuable for Bailey, as it’s never guaranteed for a mid-major program such as Colgate.
Sean Miller-Moore – #15 Grand Canyon
Canadian Sean Miller-Moore has featured in every game for the Grand Canyon Antelopes this season on route to their impressive WAC campaign. The underdog Antelopes will have a tall task ahead of them against Iowa in the first round, but Miller-Moore is sure to enter the game at some point to help his squad. Sean averages 4.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 1.6 APG in 15 minutes per game, and will get to end his senior season proudly on the national stage.
Matey Juric – #16 Drexel
The Drexel Dragons went on a magical run in the CAA tournament and will be dancing into the field of 64 for the first time since 1996. Unfortunately for them, their reward for making the tournament is a first-round matchup against powerhouse Illinois, but it does mean that Canadian Matey Juric will get to make a tournament appearance in his junior season. Juric has played in 19 games this year and started once, averaging 3.9 PPG and 2.2 APG. Juric is a crafty guard who shoots extremely well at the line, and will get his first taste of tournament action when he touches the floor on Friday.
Written by Kyle Oliveira