Over a third of the Australians that qualified for the men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 tournaments have survived through to the Sweet Sixteen which begin this Friday.
Jo Lual Acuil Jr. (Baylor Bears)- Continuing his impressive form in the front court for Baylor, Acuil Jr. starred in their first round win over New Mexico State, recording 16 points on 7-10 shooting with five rebounds. He was quieter in the second round vs. USC as the Bears won by four points and will now prepare for an exciting clash against seventh seed South Carolina on Saturday.
Gorjok Gak (Florida Gators)- Featuring in only 11 games during the regular season, Gak has played solid minutes in the first two games while shooting 100% from the field. In Florida’s first round win over East Tennessee, he played seven minutes and hit both his field goals before he followed that up with six points on 3-3 shooting and two offensive boards against Virginia. The Gators won both encounters by an average of 20.5 points and now face Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday.
Isaac Humphries (Kentucky Wildcats)- Kentucky advanced to the third round in a thriller, winning by three points as Edrice Adebayo blocked Wichita State’s game-tying attempt. Humphries has seen court time in both post-season games so far and he will be hoping to help the Wildcats avenge a loss late last year against UCLA when they meet this Sunday.
Keanu Pinder (Arizona Wildcats)- Perth’s Keanu Pinder has provided a handy presence off the bench for Arizona through the regular season with 2.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and his minutes have remained consistent over the past two games. His Wildcats ended the hopes of fellow Australians from St. Mary’s in the second round as they won by nine points and they will head into the Sweet Sixteen confident with a match-up against the eleventh seed Xavier.
Alanna Smith (Stanford Cardinal)- Despite coming off the bench, Smith has arguably been Stanford’s most important player. She collected a big double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in the first round and backed that up with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block in their next game while shooting 15-25 (60%) overall. A huge clash vs. Texas (the number three seed) is now scheduled for Saturday.
Jacinta Vandenberg (Oregon Ducks)- The Ducks fought out a nail-biter in the first round, getting past Temple in the final six seconds with a one-point win and they then proved too strong for Duke, winning 74-65. Vandenberg played 16 minutes in that second round match-up and will be aiming to have more of an influence against Maryland on Sunday.
Kristy Wallace (Baylor Bears)- Baylor flexed their muscle in their first two games, owning an average winning margin of 64.5 points and Wallace has played a starring role in those victories with 11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game while shooting 8-14 (58%) from the field. Her efficiency at the offensive end has helped the Lady Bears make light work of their opponents and Louisville know they will need to be at the top of their game when they face Baylor on Saturday.
Morgan Yaeger (Oregon Ducks)- Yaegar has been unable to see any court time through Oregon’s first two games but her Championship hopes remain alive with the Ducks advancing to the Sweet Sixteen against Maryland. The tenth vs. third seed match-up does not look favourable for Oregon but they have already rewritten history having reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.
Deng Adel (Louisville Cardinals)- Louisville advanced to the second round with a victory over Jacksonville but could not get past Michigan, falling 69-73. Adel recorded 16 points in both clashes while knocking down 4-6 from deep overall and three rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Mangok Mathiang (Louisville Cardinals)- Mathiang also impressed in a starring role for the Cardinals, top-scoring in their win against Jacksonville with 18 points on 8-13 shooting and two blocks before adding 13 points on 6-7 shooting and four boards in the following game.
Kyle Clark (St. Mary’s Gaels)- St. Mary’s proved too good for VCU in the first round after opening a 16-point lead at half-time and winning by eight but Arizona and Keanu Pinder proved their downfall in the second round. Clark was unable to bother the scoreboard in either meeting, playing just a total of four minutes.
Jordan Hunter (St. Mary’s Gaels)- Hunter, unfortunately, saw a similar amount of court time to Clark coming off the bench for the Gaels but the defence he provided for the team throughout the season was very valuable, finishing fifth overall for blocks.
Tanner Krebs (St. Mary’s Gaels)- Finding his stroke in the game against Arizona, Krebs nailed 3-5 from distance for 12 points to lead St. Mary’s off the bench and followed a 12-point, five-rebound performance in the win against VCU.
Jock Landale (St. Mary’s Gaels)- St. Mary’s leading scorer and rebounder through the regular season, Landale was the go-to player in the NCAA tournament, collecting double-doubles in both games to average 18.5 points and 12 rebounds. He played all but five minutes and also averaged 1.5 blocks to cap off an impressive season at both ends of the floor.
Emmett Naar (St. Mary’s Gaels)- Naar caught the attention of a few pundits as he tallied 13 points, six assists and two steals against VCU and his ability to get to the free-throw line proved critical in St. Mary’s win as he hit 7-8 from the charity stripe. His influence was negated against Arizona though, adding two points, three boards, an assist and a block in 30 minutes.
Dane Pineau (St Mary’s Gaels)- The final Aussie member of St. Mary’s, Pineau exerted his strength in both post-season games as he fouled out in around 25 minutes. Before that, he was able to contribute seven points, four rebounds and two blocks in their first match as well as five points, four rebounds and a block vs. Arizona.
Xavier Cooks (Winthrop Eagles)- Cooks was outstanding for Winthrop in their first round match-up against Butler, scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-22 shooting to go with six boards, two assists and a steal but the Eagles could not overcome a slow start as they fell by 12 points.
Maddy Dennis (Dayton Flyers)- Dayton fell behind by 11 points at quarter-time in the first round against Tennessee but bounced back quickly to tie the game at the main break. They could not keep that momentum going though, eventually losing 57-66 with Dennis (two rebounds, one assist) only receiving a minute of court time.
Rebekah Hatchard (Montana State Bobcats)- Hatchard played 14 minutes off the bench but did not have a real impact as Montana State were unable to create an upset against the higher seeded Huskies, falling 63-91.
Chima Moneke (UC Davis Aggies)- UC Davis advanced to the first round after defeating North Carolina Central in the First Four and Moneke proved a game-changer, recording 18 points and 12 rebounds on 6-10 shooting. He starred again for his club when they faced Kansas with 20 points and nine boards but the Jayhawks were unstoppable, winning 100-62 to end the Aggies’ dreams.
Dejan Vasiljevic (Miami Hurricanes)- Vasiljevic was unable to get off the leash for Miami in their first round loss to Michigan State, hitting 1-3 from the field for two points while adding two rebounds, an assist and a steal.