The 2016 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament will begin on Saturday March 19 Australia time with twelve Australian representatives.
Four Aussies in Stephanie Reid, Liisa and Katherine Ups as well as Courtney Wilkins will compete for the Buffalo Bulls after Reid played heroine last week against Central Michigan.
With the game tied at 71 in overtime, Reid hit a runner on the buzzer to clinch the MAC Championship and send Buffalo into March Madness. She is one of only two members in the team to be averaging double figures in points (10.5 a game) while adding 3.4 rebounds and five assists as well as leading the club in steals (1.9).
Katherine Ups has been a solid contributor at both ends of the floor, starting 31 of 33 games while collecting 5.6 points and five rebounds per contest. Her twin sister Liisa is an important part of their defensive make-up, with almost a steal per game while also dishing out 1.8 assists.
Wilkins plays only eight minutes off the bench but is shooting 35% from the three-point line and 79% from the free-throw line.
The Bulls face Ohio State in the first round this Saturday.
From the no. 1 seeded Baylor Athletics, Kristy Wallace will also compete in the Big Dance.
Wallace is the team’s fourth best scorer with 8.3 a game, collects the fourth most of assists (2.5) and third most of amount steals (1.3 a game).
Baylor’s match against Idaho will have an Australian flavour with the Vandals possessing four Aussies on their team in Brigitte O’Neill, Tayla Corrigan, Renae Mokrzycki and Geraldine McCorkell.
McCorkell is one of the main offensive weapons for Idaho, averaging 11.5 points while hitting 39% from the field. She recorded a season-high of 22 points and four blocks against Seattle earlier in the season.
Mokrzycki has only started five games in 2015/16 but her efficient field goal shooting (52%) gives her 7.4 points a game. A breakout performance on December 20 saw her pull down 15 rebounds which could be a handy asset for the Vandals as we enter the Round of 64.
O’Neill and Corrigan are both bench players that do not regularly see big minutes although they are both competent scorers and can spread the floor.
Ashleigh Karaitiana, an ex-Australian Gem of Hawaii (14th seed) will face off against UCLA on March 20, bringing with her 8.7 points and 2.4 assists a game.
Rachel Antoniadou has seen limited game-time in 19 contests this season but will be hoping to receive some court time as Florida State tips off against Middle Tennessee State University this Sunday.
Alanna Smith of Stanford rounds out the twelve Australian representatives as they prepare for battle against San Francisco.
Playing 12 minutes a contest, Smith is averaging 5.4 points while sitting third for the Cardinals in blocks. Seeded fourth, Stanford would like their chances to go deep in the tournament and potentially face the famous Notre Dame in the Quarter-Finals.
The full March Madness bracket can be found here.