In addition to almost two dozen Aussies featuring in the NCAA Tournaments across the men’s and women’s divisions, Australia are also well represented in the 2018 National Invitational Tournaments (NIT).
A beast at both ends of the floor for Baylor, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has averaged 14 points on 51% shooting as well as 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks which are both team highs. He has collected 14 double-doubles with a season-best 31 points and 21 rebounds coming in December but his March numbers have not been as solid and he recorded ten points, three rebounds and two assists in the Bears’ win in the first game of the NIT against Wagner.
A key piece for the Vandals, Geraldine McCorkell has started all but one game while collecting 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists while sitting third for blocks. The senior will be desperate to finish her college career on a high but with a 19-13 record, Idaho will not find the going easy when they tackle University of California Davis on Friday.
The team’s leader for scoring, Deng Adel is averaging 15.4 points per game on 45% shooting while also sitting second for three-pointers made at 35%. He has hit double-digits in every game but one and is also placed second for rebounds (5.4) as Louisville’s most critical piece heading into the NIT. The Cardinals fought out a thriller in the first round against Northern Kentucky, winning 66-58 as Adel finished with 20 points and five rebounds.
Holding down the front court for LSU, 211cm Duop Reath has utilised his length to pull down 5.2 rebounds per game including almost two offensive boards per contest to combine with 12.2 points. That offensive production equals his output from last year but he has improved his field goal shooting percentage from 51% to 54% as well as his three-point percentage from 31% to 41% to have a very efficient season. As the number 3 seed, the Tigers’ first opponent will be Louisiana (sixth seed) on Thursday.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Transferring to Marquette from SMU mid-season, Harry Froling has now played 19 matches for 2.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He is not likely to see much court for the number two seeded Golden Eagles but they will go into their first match-up against Harvard on Thursday as favourites.
In a disrupted third year at Nebraska, Jack McVeigh has only featured in 14 games after playing at least 30 in his first two seasons. The Cornhuskers face a huge clash against Mississippi State in the first round in a battle between the fourth and fifth seeds in Region 2 on Thursday.
Saint Mary’s Gaels
Many were hoping Saint Mary’s would reach the NCAA Tournament this year but they will now have to prove themselves in the NIT and with a potential chip on their shoulder, opponents may feel the wrath of the Gaels. Several Australians feature in the team including Jock Landale who has compiled one of the best college seasons for any Aussie, named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year while averaging 21.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He was also recently named in the National Association of Basketball Coaches All District First Team alongside fellow Aussie Emmett Naar who now sits second in Gaels’ history for career assists, surpassing Matthew Dellavedova while tallying 10.1 points and eight dimes per game this season.
Tanner Krebs has enjoyed his increased role with Saint Mary’s, upping his point production from 4.3 to 7.8 per game and his 55 three-pointers placed him second for the team. Jock Perry (2.1 points per game) and Jordan Hunter (2.9 points, 2.3 rebounds) have also provided a boost off the bench but Kyle Clark has not played since November. In their first game of the NIT against Southeastern Louisiana, the Gaels did it easily with a 44-point victory as Landale (26 points, six rebounds), Krebs (ten rebounds), Naar (three points, five assists) and Hunter (six points, four boards) starred.
Saint Mary’s Gaels Women
Two Australians in Jasmine Forcadilla and Megan McKay will compete for Saint Mary’s in the NIT after Carly Turner suffered a season ending injury late last year. Both players have started every game for the season that they have competed in with McKay (15.4 points per game) pacing the team at the offensive end while also pulling down 7.2 rebounds (second best) and tallying 22 steals (third) and 12 blocks (third). Her work under the rim will be critical to the Gaels chances as will Forcadilla’s offence after she has averaged seven points per contest at 38% and a team-high 3.4 assists. With a 20-10 record, Saint Mary’s will take on New Mexico on Monday.
South Dakota Coyotes
A redshirt junior after missing last season, Jasmine Trimboli has started ten games this year while playing 31 overall. She sits fourth for the team in scoring at 9.3 points per game on 55% shooting but her work at the defensive end is where she has been shining, placed second for the Coyotes with a total of 57 steals. An automatic qualifier out of the Summit League, South Dakota will take on Houston in the first round on Friday.
Isaac White has proven to be a strong contributor for Stanford in his first year with the team although after a whirlwind start his numbers have started to drop off. He scored 17 points in his debut on 5-5 three-point shooting and then tallied a season-high of 20 points just a week later but since the New Year, White has not reached double-digits again. Hopefully he can find his stroke and get some consistent minutes on court in the NIT when they begin their campaign against BYU on Thursday.
TCU Horned Frogs
Featuring in 18 games this season, Ellen Hellessey may not see much action in the NIT with TCU set to take on Lamar on Monday in the first round. She is averaging 2.3 points and has had the green light in her limited minutes, knocking down 5-14 (36%) from distance.