P. J. Go |  Tue 13/03/2018 - 11:07 EDT

NCAA Tournament 2018: Four Canadian Players to Watch

NCAA Tournament 2018: Four Canadian Players to Watch
The Madness has begun. The 2018 edition of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament better known as "March Madness" has officially kicked off with 68 teams all vying for the prestigious National Championship. Not to be lost in all the scuffle are the presence of several Canadian players all playing vital roles for their respective teams. We narrowed down the list to four who will make the most impact.

Canadians To Watch During March Madness

Over a handful of Canadian players are present in the NCAA tournament though none play for the favourites. It’s unlikely we get to see one of our local players be part of the celebrations in April but never say never. Several players are still with teams who have an outside shot to win it all and they will be playing a critical part of their team’s success.

These are four of the best Canadian players present in the tournament who are either playing for a team with a solid chance of going deep in the tournament and/or will be a focal point of their team. Included are the odds (via SportsInteraction) of their team winning it all.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky)

The best Canadian player in the tournament plays for John Calipari’s boys at the UK. Gilgeous-Alexander is a top-three point guard prospect and is expected to be taken in the upper part of this year’s NBA draft. He plays for a Kentucky squad that isn’t as usually loaded but still boasts plenty of talent like forward Kevin Knox and guard Hamidou Diallo, both projected first-round draft picks. 

Gilgeous-Alexander has good size and athleticism for his position at 6’6″ 180 lbs. and has stellar basketball IQ and plays with the efficiency unique for players in his position. Gilgeous-Alexander averages 13.9 points, five assists, and 1.6 steals. He has a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and as the floor general for the fifth-seeded Wildcats, he is their X-Factor as they play in a potential upset-heavy South bracket.

Kentucky's Odds to Win Tournament (+1500)

Kassius Robertson (Missouri)

Kassius Robertson

Robertson leads a sharp Mizzou team that could prove more than a match for Xavier should they get past the underrated Florida State in the first round. The Tigers went 20-12 in the SEC and returned to the Big Dance for the first time in five years. Robertson has been a huge part of that leading the team in scoring with 16.2 a game on an impressive 42.5 per cent from deep.

The Tigers will be without the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder in Jordan Barnett after he was suspended for off-court issues but they will have bluechip prospect Michael Porter Jr. starting instead. Porter Jr. has only played two games but is drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant. The Tigers will need him, and Robertson, to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to make a run.

Missouri's Odds to Win Tournament (+5100)

Kyle Alexander (Tennessee)

Kyle Alexander

He may not be the best player on this list but Alexander has the best chance of making it the furthest in the tournament thanks to playing for a loaded Vols team that is fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency. Tennessee lost the SEC tournament to Kentucky but will be seeded higher at third in the chaotic South region. 

Alexander is third on the team in rebounding at 5.6 and leads the team in blocked shots with 1.7 and field goal percentage with 67.9 per cent. The Mississauga, Ontario native is a defensive specialist and at 6’11″, he will be an anchor in the middle for the Vols who have a realistic shot at making the Final Four.   

Tennessee's Odds to Win Tournament (+5100)

O’Shae Brissett (Syracuse)

As the biggest longshots in this list, we may not see much of Brissett in the tournament but the one or two games he might play will be enough of a taste of his talent. The 6’8″ forward from Mississauga is one of the key reasons why the Orange are in the tournament. Brissett leads the team in rebounding with 8.8 per game and is third in scoring with 14.7.

Brissett has the athletic gifts that most scouts ooze for. With a 6’11″ wingspan and the quickness of a guard, Brissett is a combo-forward who can guard multiple positions and if he fills out nicely, he could be an NBA Draft lottery pick as early as next season. For now, Brissett will give everyone a glimpse of his natural abilities and if Syracuse somehow becomes this year’s Cinderella, Brissett will be a huge reason for that.

Syracuse's Odds to Win Tournament (+28300)

Best Canadian Sportsbooks for March Madness

For a few weeks, the Toronto Raptors aren’t going to be the only basketball Canadians get crazy over. The nation falls in love with the Madness just like everyone else. Many of them don’t just stick with brackets but also head to Canadian-friendly online bookmakers to place bets.

Read our detailed reviews before committing to any books.

Category : Picks and Parlays

Tag : basketball , march madness , NCAAB

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