March Madness: The Aussies going dancing in 2021
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, a large number of Australians will feature in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
We are now deep into March Madness, and despite a COVID-19 impacted season, the Aussie men and women have both played important roles in guiding their teams to the NCAA Tournament.
A host of Aussies were front and centre in winning conference championships and thus automatically punching a ticket to the Big Dance, while the remaining teams were made to sweat it out on Selection Sunday — Monday for the women — before learning of their fate. The men are all headed to Indianapolis while the women are playing in San Antonio, with the action tipping off with the First Four on Friday Australian time.
What is certain is that Australia will be once again well represented deep into March, as we outline all the teams boasting Aussies in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Hartford (16) | America East Champions
Hunter MARKS | Senior | Forward | VIC
Creating history, Hartford claimed their first ever America East Championship in a 64-50 victory over Massachusetts-Lowell, and also their first ever NCAA Tournament bid in 27 years of Division I basketball. Hunter Marks was outstanding all tournament and also in the final, contributing 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the championship-clincher. Selected to the All-Championship Team, Marks also received the Elite 18 award for having the highest GPA of all participants in the league's title game.
As a 16 seed, the Hawks were drawn against #1 seed Baylor for the first round. Game details: Saturday, 20th @ 6:30am (AEDST).
Winthrop (12) | Big South Champions
Kyle ZUNIC | Senior | Guard | NSW
Tom PUPAVAC | Senior | Forward | VIC
Senior guard Kyle Zunic delivered 13 points (5-6 FG) with 3 rebounds in 20 minutes as Winthrop steamrolled Campbell 80-53 to win the 2021 Big South Championship, their second in a row. Senior forward Pupavac came off the bench to drain a three-pointer in 2 minutes of action.
Awaiting in the first round will be #5 seed Villanova. Game details: Saturday, 20th @ 12:57pm (AEDST).
Eastern Washington (14) | Big Sky Champions
Jack PERRY | Senior | Guard | VIC
Tyler ROBERTSON | Sophomore | Forward | VIC
The Eagles are dancing for a third time after accounting for Montana State 65-55 to win the Big Sky Championship. Senior Jack Perry added 9 points as a starter, while the league’s best six-man Tyler Robertson came off the bench to 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the final.
The Eagles will face #3 seed Kansas in the first round. Game details: Sunday, 21st @ 4:15am (AEDST).
Grand Canyon (15) | WAC Champions
Jayden STONE | Freshman | Guard |
Grand Canyon took down the defending champion New Mexico State 74-56 to advance to the program's first NCAA tournament in its third attempt. Unfortunately for Jayden Stone he did not play in the championship game, having just recently returned from injury.
The Lopes were pitted against #2 seed Iowa for their first round game. Game details: Sunday, 21st @ 9:15am (AEDST).
Oklahoma (8) | At-Large Bid
Anyang GARANG | Freshman | Forward | SA
The Sooners’ NCAA Tournament tips off against #8 seeded Missouri. Game details: Sunday, 21st @ 10:25am (AEDST).
Virginia (4) | At-Large Bid
Kody STATTMAN | Junior | Guard | QLD
The Cavaliers will take on #12 Ohio in the first round. Game details: Sunday, 21st @ 10:15am (AEDST).
Creighton (5) | At-Large Bid
Jacob EPPERSON | Junior | Centre | VIC
Creighton will face #12 UC Santa Barbara in the first round. Game details: Sunday, 21st @ 6:30am (AEDST).
Utah State (11) | At-Large Bid
Sean BAIRSTOW | Sophomore | Guard | QLD
The Aggies will take on #6 Texas Tech first up. Game details: Saturday, 20th @ 4:45am (AEDST).
Rutgers (10) | At-Large Bid
Mawot MAG | Freshman | Forward | VIC
#7 Clemson awaits Rutgers in the first round. Game details: Saturday, 20th @ 12:20pm (AEDST).
Stanford (1) | Pac-12 Champions
Agnes EMMA-NNOPU | Freshman | Guard | VIC
Stanford captured a 14th Pac-12 Championship and third in five years when they downed UCLA 75-55, in turn securing another opportunity to push for postseason success. Freshman guard Agnes Emma-Nnopu has seen few opportunities on a very strong roster this season, stepping onto the court in the final for a solitary minute of action.
The Cardinal scored a #1 seed and will take on #16 seed Utah Valley to open their campaign. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 1:00pm (AEDST).
Idaho State (13) | Big Sky Champions
Callie BOURNE | Junior | Guard | ACT
Idaho State dominated Idaho in the Big Sky Championship game to book a ticket to the NCAA Tournament in a commanding 84-49 win. Callie Bourne played an important role, collecting 8 points and 3 rebounds and 2 assists in the big win.
Their tournament tips off against #3 seeded Kentucky. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 5:00am (AEDST).
Wyoming (14) | Mountain West Champions
Grace ELLIS | Freshman | Forward | QLD
The seventh seeded Cowgirls completed a remarkable Mountain West Conference Tournament by topping Fresno State 59-56 in a thriller to capture their first ever post season championship and just their second ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. In the tournament decider, Grace Ellis tied her career-high with 9 points while also registering a career-best 5 rebounds, it could not have come at a better time.
The Cowgirls have drawn #3 seed UCLA for their first clash. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 1:00pm (AEDST).
Gonzaga (5) | West Coast Conference Champions
Eliza HOLLINGSWORTH | Freshman | Forward | VIC
Lily SCANLON | Freshman | Guard | VIC
There is no better way than to win a conference championship on the buzzer, and that’s just what Gonzaga did. With 0.6 seconds left on the clock, Zags senior Jill Townsend delivered the game-winner to come from beyond for a 43-42 win against BYU. Freshman Eliza Hollingsworth played 5 minutes off the bench to drain a triple for 3 points and 3 rebounds while Lily Scanlon did not see the court.
The Zags are drawn with #12 Belmont in the opening round. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 7:00am (AEDST).
Maryland (2) | Big 10 Champions
Chloe BIBBY | Senior | Forward | VIC
On the big stage, Chloe Bibby delivered. The senior poured in a team-best 21 points on 9-13 shooting with 4 rebounds, helping the Terrapin’s secure a fifth Big 10 Championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament. With the number one offence in the nation, coupled with having won 13 in a row, the Terrapins will like their chances when the dancing begins.
Unlucky to miss out on a #1 seed, Maryland will tackle #15 Mount St Mary’s in the opening game. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 7:00am (AEDST).
Drexel (14) | Horizon League Champions
Chloe HODGES | Freshman | Forward | SA
Drexel had to defeat top-seeded Delaware in the Horizon League championship game and came away with a 63-52 victory. the win secured the just the second championship in program history and the first since 2009, booking an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Drexel will face #3 seed Georgia in their tournament opener. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 3:00am )AEDST).
Virginia Commonwealth (13) | Atlantic 10 Champions
Chloe BLOOM | Sophomore | Forward | NSW
VCU secured it maiden Atlantic 10 Championship and will return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 following an 81-69 victory over Massachusetts. Chloe Bloom was solid all tournament, adding 8 points with 5 rebounds as a starter in the final.
The A-10 champs tip-off their tournament with a contest against #4 seed Indiana. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 5:00am (AEDST).
Utah Valley (16) | WAC Regular Season Champions
Sydney WRIGHT | Sophomore | Guard | SA
Western Athletic Conference regular season champion Utah Valley are headed to the NCAA Tournament despite bowing out of the WAC Tournament to eventual champion California Baptist. Despite going a perfect 25-0 during the season (and boasting Aussies Georgia Dale and Brittany Klaman), the Lancersare currently in a four-year DI transition period, and are not eligible to take part in the NCAA tournament until 2022/23 season. The Wolverines boast an Aussie of their own in Sydney Wright, who will be part of her school’s first ever trip to the big dance.
The #1 seeded Stanford await Utah Valley in the first round. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 1:00pm (AEDST).
Oklahoma State (8) | At-Large Bid
Neferatali NOTOA | Freshman | Guard | QLD
The Cowgirls have been drawn with #9 Wake Forest for their round 1 game. Game details: Sunday, 21st March
Oregon (6) | At-Large Bid
Jazmin SHELLEY | Sophomore | Guard | VIC
#11 South Dakota awaits the Ducks in the first round. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd.
Virginia Tech (7) | At-Large Bid
Georgia AMOORE | Freshman | Guard | VIC
The Hokies will take on #10 Marquette in their tournament opener. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 3:00am (AEDST).
Tennessee (3) | At-Large Bid
Jessie RENNIE | Sophomore | Guard | VIC
It’s an all-state affair when the Volunteers face the #14 seed Middle Tennessee in round 1. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 5:00am (AEDST).
Syracuse (8) | At-Large Bid
Tiana MANGAKAHIA | Senior | Guard | QLD
Syracuse have drawn #9 seed South Dakota state to open their tournament. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 8:30am (AEDST).
Oregon State (8) | At-Large Bid
Jasmine SIMMONS | Junior | Guard | VIC
#9 seed Florida State awaits the Beavers in their opening round clash. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 10:30am (AEDST).
Washington State (9) | At-Large Bid
Ula MOTUGA | Junior | Forward | QLD
Emma NANKERVIS | Sophomore | Centre | VIC
The Cougars are scheduled to play against #8 seed South Florida. Game details: Monday, 22nd @ 12:30am (AEDST).
Arizona (3) | At-Large Bid
Tara MANUMALEUGA | Sophomore | Guard | QLD
#14 seed Stony Brook will be Arizona’s opening round opponent. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 5:00am (AEDST).
Indiana (4) | At-Large Bid
Paige PRICE | Freshman | Forward | VIC
A-10 champs and #13 seed VCU await the Hoosiers first up. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 5:00am (AEDST).
UCLA (4) | At-Large Bid
Chantel HORVAT | Junior | Guard | VIC
#14 Wyoming awaits the Bruins for their opening contest. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd @ 1:00pm (AEDST).
Texas A&M (2) | At-Large Bid
Ella TOFAEONO | Junior | Centre | NSW
With a #2 seed, the Aggies will take on #15 seed Troy to tip off their tournament. Game details: Tuesday, 23rd & 9:00am (AEDST).