AUSSIES HIT NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET SIXTEEN
By Liam Ellison.
No. 1 Virginia vs No. 12 Oregon
March 29, 12:57pm AEDT
Kody Stattmann (Virginia) – 1.7 points per game.
As the #1 seed in the South section of the bracket, Virginia has taken care of business during the first two rounds of tournament play.
Kody Stattmann has seen game-time in both contests with the Cavaliers getting out to unassailable leads in each game. The Queenslander looks set to continue to receive limited minutes as the tournament progresses but with Virginia one of the tournament’s favoured teams, Stattmann has a realistic chance to become the first Australian to win an NCAA national championship.
No. 1 Louisville vs No. 4 Oregon St.
March 30, 12:30pm AEDT
Jasmine Simmons (Oregon St) – two points, 1.2 rebounds and one assist per game.
With Oregon St. winning a pair of close games against Boise State and Gonzaga, Simmons is yet to hit the floor in the NCAA tournament.
She has appeared in 20 games during her freshman season and will likely only see game-time if Oregon St. find themselves in a blow-out result.
No. 1 Duke vs No. 4 Virginia Tech
March 30, 12:39pm AEDT
Jack White (Duke) – 4.4 points, five rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
The Duke co-captain has missed both of his team’s wins so far due to a hamstring injury and his status for Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen game is unknown.
White has been an important member of the Duke rotation this season, averaging 21.5 minutes per game. Well-placed to make a final four run, White will be hoping to get back on the floor as soon as possible with the Victorian another big chance to win a national championship.
No. 2 Oregon vs No. 6 South Dakota St.
March 30, 2:00pm AEDT
Morgan Yaeger (Oregon) – 4.4 points, five rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
Playing as a back-up guard to the nation’s #1 ranked prospect in this year’s upcoming WNBA draft in Sabrina Ionescu, Morgan Yaeger has had a limited role off the bench in Oregon’s first two tournament games.
After Oregon cruised to blow out wins over Portland St and Indiana, tighter games may mean Yaeger sees less court-time as Oregon rely on their star back-court pairing to lead them on a deep tournament run.
No. 2 Stanford vs No. 11 Missouri St.
March 31 9:30am AEDT
Alanna Smith (Stanford) – 19.8 points on .517% FG & .399 3FG%, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
The star Australian remaining in the tournament, Smith has led Stanford all season, racking up awards in the process.
The Cardinal cruised to a 79-54 win over UC Davis in the first round as Smith put up 21 points and seven rebounds in the win. She then backed up her efforts with a huge double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds to pace Stanford to a nine-point win over BYU.
As Stanford progresses into the third round, Smith should continue to star if Stanford is to continue their tournament run and potentially claim their first NCAA national championship since 1992.
17 active Australians entered the tournament with 12 of those unable to get past the first two rounds.
Saint Mary’s housed four Australian’s in the men’s tournament, with Jordan Hunter, Tanner Krebs, Jock Perry, and Alex Mudronja a part of the Gael’s four-point loss to Villanova in the first round.
Krebs played 39 minutes in the contest, posting eight points and three rebounds while Jordan Hunter registered six points and two rebounds of his own.
Tiana Mangakahia led Syracuse to a first round with over Fordham with a near triple-double of 21 points, eight rebounds, eleven assists, and five steals.
Syracuse then advanced to the round of 32 against the #6 seed South Dakota St as Mangakahia again led the way with 18 points and eight assists. However, Syracuse could not repeat their first-round exploits, as they fell by eleven points for a disappointing early exit.
Mangakahia now has a decision to make on whether she nominates for the 2019 WNBA Draft or stays on with Syracuse.
Jayden Hodgson hit the floor for Bradley in a first-round loss to Michigan State, while Hugh Baxter, Ben Carter and Ben Fakira all registered DNP’s in their school’s respective first-round losses.
Courtney Wilkins was instrumental for Buffalo in their first round over Rutgers, playing 28 minutes off the bench for nine points and five rebounds. Buffalo then faced off against the #2 seed UConn and fell by 12 as Wilkins managed two points off the bench.
Lauren Mills and Courtney West also made appearances in the first round, with Iowa State advancing to the second round before falling to Missouri State, and Portland State succumbing to Morgan Yaeger’s Oregon Ducks in the first round.
As the NCAA tournament progresses into the sweet sixteen, five Australian’s remain in the competition with hopes of national championship glory.
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