It's that time of the year, March Madness is here! But fans tend to put aside the women's tournament in favour of the men's bracket.
The pool of Canadian talent in the women's tourney is arguably greater than the men's. We've rounded up the Canadians to watch starting Friday, and just in case you aren't familiar with the women's bracket, we got you covered:
Kia Nurse, Sophomore, No. 1 Connecticut - Dubbed as one of, if not, the best player to come out of Canada, Nurse has been starting for a stacked UConn team since her freshman year. On top of her college career, Nurse just recently turned 20 years old and has already been playing for Team Canada for five years. She was part of Canada's 2014 FIBA World Championship team and gold medal squad at the Pan Am Games. Nurse has great size for a lead guard at 6-feet, and has helped her team go undefeated with a 31-0 record this season, despite taking a backseat to other UConn rising stars in Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson. She will be THE Canadian to watch in the NCAA Tournament.
Ruth Hamblin, Senior, No. 2 Oregon St. - A WNBA Draft hopeful, Hamblin has been a staple to the Beavers' success in recent years. Averaging close to a double-double (11.9 points, 9.5 rebounds) per game, Hamblin's 6'6" frame allows her to be one of the most efficient players in the tournament. After coming off the bench as a freshman, Hamblin hasn't looked back and has put together an impressive resume at Oregon St.
Quinn Dornstauder, Junior, No. 2 Arizona State - The Sun Devils' Centre helped her team to the 2nd seed in Sioux Falls with averages of 9.6 ppg and 4.5 rebounds per game. At 6'4, she notched 40 of the entire team's 75 blocked shots on the season, and will be a key factor to Arizona State's run in the tournament. A second round matchup with Kaili Lukan's Green Bay squad in the second round is a real possibility.
Nirra Fields, Senior, No. 3 UCLA - Alongside Nurse, Nirra Fields is one of two members of Canada's gold medal team at the Pan Am Games in the NCAA tournament. Much like for Team Canada, Fields plays a huge role on her UCLA team as the second leading scorer (15.7 ppg), and is another WNBA Draft hopeful following her senior season.
Adut Bulgak, Senior, No. 5 Florida State - One of the most decorated Canadians in college basketball, the 6'4 Senior from Edmonton averages a shade under 13 points and 8 rebounds per game for the 5th seeded Seminoles. Bulgak is also able to stretch the floor with her three-point range. She's looking to lead her team deep into the tournament before entering the WNBA Draft where she's projected to be a first-round pick.
Kaili Lukan, Senior, No. 10 Green Bay - The Barrie, Ontario native has been a Swiss army knife for the Green Bay Phoenix. Hovering around 10 points per game, Lukan also dishes 3.1 assists per game, grabs 4.7 boards per game and is the team's best defender. Lukan has seen time with the Canadian U18 team and has had a very successful college career in Green Bay. Her team enters the tournament as the 10th seed and Lukan will lead the charge towards upsetting 7th seeded Tennesee.
These talented women aren't the only Canadians in the tournament. Here are some under-the-radar players that could use the tourney to their advantage and impress:
Mikalah Mulrain, Sophomore, No. 16 Robert Morris - Standing at 6'3, the centre from Brampton has become a force in the post for Robert Morris. Mulrain averages over a block per game and is the second leading rebounder on the team behind fellow Canadian Megan Smith.
Megan Smith, Sophomore, No. 16 Robert Morris - Smith is one of Robert Morris' key players. She leads the team in rebounds per game (5.8) and is the second leading scorer with an average of 8 points per game. Unfortunately for her and her teammate Mikalah Mulrain, they're up against powerhouse UConn and Canadian rising star Kia Nurse.
Julia Chandler, Freshman, No. 4 Syracuse - The freshman forward has played well in a limited role for the Orange, averaging 2 points and a rebound in 7 minutes per game. She may not be a key part of the team right now, but has been waiting in the ranks and could be one to keep an eye on for a breakout tournament. She's someone to keep an eye on for years to come.
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