NCAA Men: Elite 8 awaits Aussie men
Australia was represented by a total of 18 men across 11 teams to open the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Now we are down to just 5 players and 5 teams.
Kentucky, Arizona, Baylor, Florida and South Carolina are the teams remaining featuring Australians that have progressed to the Sweet 16, and with realistic chances of progressing to the Elite 8.
How sweet it is
We take a look at the schedule for the teams into the Sweet 16.
#2 Arizona vs #11 Xavier | Keanu Pinder | 24 March 2017
The Cardinal will enter the game as clear favourites after accounting for North Dakota and Saint Mary's to advance to the Sweet 16. Keanu Pinder has been playing a defensive role off the bench, and would expect this to continue. Gonzaga or West Virginia a wait the winner in the Elite 8.
#3 Baylor vs #7 South Carolina | Jo Lual-Acuil Jr & Ran Tut | 25 March 2017
Lual-Acuil Jr helped the Bears advance against New Mexico State with a 16 point outing, but had little impact their in their 4-point win over USC in the Round of 32. South Carolina, who upset #2 seed Duke to get through, will prove a different challenge and riding the emotion of their big win. This should be an entertaining contest between two athletic teams. Tut is unlikely to see any action unlike Lual Acuil Jr who will start for the Bears. Florida or Wisconsin will be the opponent the victor will tackle in the next round.
#2 Kentucky vs #3 UCLA | Isaac Humphries | 25 March 2017
This is a star-studded contest between two teams boasting future NBA stars and is arguably the match-up of the Sweet 16. Think Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk going up against the likes of Bruins star Lonzo Ball. Australian sophomore center Isaac Humphries has been playing a minor support role off the bench and this is unlikely to change in this contest. Whoever prevails in this enthralling contest will meet either North Carolina or Butler in the Elite 8.
#4 Florida vs #8 Wisconsin | Gorjok Gak | 25 March 2017
The Gators enter this one as favourites, having dismantled both East Tennessee State (by 15 points) and then #5 Virginia by a staggering 26 point margin. Wisconsin surprised many by upsetting #1 seed Villanova and busting an insane number of brackets. Can the run of Wisconsin continue or will the athletic Florida prevail? Gorjok Gak has played little this season and it would be surprising to see the freshman hit the court in this one. Baylor or South Carolina will be waiting in the Elite 8 for the winner of this intriguing contest.
Left the dance early
First Round | #16 UC Davis | Chima Moneke
UC Davis beat North Carolina Central to progress to an opening round match-up against #1 Kansas. Chima Moneke was outstanding in both games, delivering an 18 point and 12 rebound double-double in the First Four before playing a lone hand in compiling an impressive 20 points and 9 rebounds in a lop-sided result against the Jayhawks.
First Round | #13 Winthrop | Xavier Cooks
Winthrop's tournament began and ended at the hands of Butler, however it was not without Xavier Cooks delivering his best on the big stage. The 6'8 forward added 23 points and 6 rebounds in a fine performance that ultimately went unrewarded with a win.
First Round | #2 Miami | Dejan Vasiljevic
Freshman guard Dejan Vasiljevic saw 16 minutes of action for 2 points and 2 rebounds as the Hurricanes exited in the first round against Michigan State. This is a young team that will be back next season bigger, better and more experienced.
Second Round | #2 Louisville | Deng Adel & Mangok Mathiang
The Cardinal powered their way to an opening round win against Jacksonville State thanks to 18 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks from senior forward Mangok Mathiang and 16 points from Deng Adel. Both would play well against #7 Michigan, with Adel contributing 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists while Mathiang added 13 points and 4 rebounds. However Louisville's promising season ended at the hands of a very good performance from Michigan, ending Mathiang's college career prematurely.
Second Round | #2 Duke | Jack White
Many favoured Duke to progress to at least the Final Four, but they were unable to get past the second round. Duke ran past Troy easily before running into trouble against the athletic South Carolina Gamecocks. Jack White ,managed to hit the court for 2 minutes in the Blue Devils' opening round win and will be better for the experience.
Second Round | #2 Saint Mary's | Dane Pineau, Emmett Naar, Jock Landale, Kyle Clark, Jordan Hunter, Tanner Krebs & Jock Perry
The Gaels were back dancing, and Jock Landale made it two games for two double-doubles. He guided the Gaels to a win over Virginia Commonwealth with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, receiving great support from Emmett Naar who posted 13 points and 6 assists, while Tanner Krebs added 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. Arizona proved a more difficult proposition. While Landale impressed again with top-scored with 19 points with 11 rebounds and 4 assists, the Cardinal proved too strong down the stretch. Freshman Krebs again impressed with a further 12 points in 17 minutes off the pine.