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NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Men: Let the Madness Begin!
The non-conference schedule is well and truly over. Conference play is all said and done, and their tournaments have been won. Now it is time to dance...
March Madness is well and truly here, and this year's post-season action includes 4 teams heading to the NCAA Tournament boasting 8 Australian's on their rosters. Action gets underway on Wednesday Australian time with the 'First Four' featuring plenty of home-grown talent on display on day 1. While all eyes will be on the big dance, there is also the NIT, CBI and CIT Tournaments with plenty more Aussie talent in action.
Thanks to the stellar play of America East tournament MVP Peter Hooley, Albany heads into the NCAA tournament in great form and playing with confidence. They play off in the 'first Four' first round and will like their chances of advanced to a showdown with Midwest Region #1 seed Florida. Sam Rowley has also been in great form, and together with great support off the bench from Luke Devlin, a win in the first round will be seen as a big win.
North Carolina State made a solid run in the strong Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, but had to rely on the selection committee in gaining a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Earn it they did, and with their 7'1" senior center anchoring the middle at both ends, they should progress to the 2nd round, and will prove tough opposition for the waiting Saint Louis. This team could surprise many and the play of Vandenberg could well be their barometer to success.
Cameron Bairstow has had a monster of a season and led the Lobos to the Mountain West tournament crown and picked up the MVP along the way. New Mexico is better than the #7 seed that they were dealt with, and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. After being bounced out early in 2013, the Lobos will be seeking redemption and are primed to make a deep run that could see them make the Elite 8. They will need Bairstow at his best and be relying on the safe hands of Hugh Greenwood to have every chance of succeeding.
Arguably the team with the greatest chance of winning the entire tournament is the reigning national champions in #5 seed Louisville. The Cardinals have been in devastating form; blowing away all opponents in the American Athletic Conference on their way to the tournament title. Freshman Mangok Mathiang has been providing 12-18 minutes each game off the bench in a support role, with his rebounding and athleticism adding great value especially at the defensive end. It would be no surprise to see Louisville make the Final Four.
NCAA Tournament (NCAA)
#16 Albany Great Danes | Luke Devlin, Sam Rowley, Peter Hooley & Mike Rowley
#12 North Carolina State | Jordan Vandenberg
#4 Louisville | Mangok Mathiang
#7 New Mexico | Cameron Bairstow & Hugh Greenwood
Note: #15 Wofford is also in the tournament however Australian Indiana Faithfull left the school in late January.
National Invitational Tournament (NIT)
#4 Saint Marys | Matt Hodgson & Dane Pineau
#5 Louisiana State | Darcy Malone
CBI Tournament (CBI)
South Dakota State | Matt Donlan
Wyoming | Nathan Sobey
Oregon State | Angus Brandt
CIT Tournament (CIT)
Pacific | Spencer Llewellyn
Grand Canyon | Sam Daly
Note: All days are Australian time. Wednesday, 19 March 2014 NCAA Rd 1 #16 Albany vs #16 Mount St. Mary’s Midwest Region NCAA Rd 1 #12 North Carolina State vs #12 Xavier Midwest Region NIT Rd 1 #4 Saint Marys vs #5 Utah Thursday, 20 March 2014 CBI Rd 1 South Dakota State vs Old Dominion CBI Rd 1 Wyoming vs Texas A&M CBI Rd 1 Oregon State vs Radford CIT Rd 1 Pacific vs Grand Canyon Friday, 21 March 2014 NCAA Rd 2 #4 Louisville vs #13 Manhattan Midwest Region NCAA Rd 2 #12 TBA vs #5 Saint Louis Midwest Region NCAA Rd 2 #16 TBA vs #1 Florida Midwest Region NIT Rd 1 #5 Louisiana State vs #4 San Francisco Saturday, 22 March 2014 NCAA Rd 2 #7 New Mexico vs #10 Stanford South Region