Australian Minutes Set To Be A Record

Selection Sunday is one of those days that gives certain teams and individuals a reason to celebrate, and others a reason to mourn and lament on what could have been. It has been the best and worst day in many a schools calendar for years. It’s the basis of debate across countless media outlets and campuses around the country and even the world. This year, like every other, teams that may have deserved a bid missed out, and teams that didn’t may have just slipped in. It’s all part of the game that we love and the competition that is the NCAA Tournament.Out of the 68 teams that made this years NCAA Tournament, seven teams have Australian representation on their roster for a total of twelve Australian players. This record number almost didn’t happen however, with two schools with Australian representation in St Mary’s (four Australians) and Boise State (two Australians) only filling in the last four spots in the bracket as part of the “First Four”. Here’s an idea of the teams with Australian representation and how they’ll go in the Tournament.St Mary’s (11th Seed in Midwest)Number of Australians: 4 (Matthew Dellavedova – 36.2MPG, Mitchell Young – 20.1MPG, Jorden Page – 19.1MPG, Matthew Hodgson – 10.5MPG).So St Mary’s have already played their first game of the Tournament as part of the “First Four” in a win against Middle Tennessee to claim the 11th seed in the Midwest. The Gaels now face 6th seed Memphis in the Round of 64 and, to be honest, have a very good chance of an upset. Memphis are a lot bigger than St Mary’s, but St Mary’s are used to playing undersized, and with their speed and strength in the PG position, an upset is certainly on the cards here. With the importance of Dellavedova at the PG position, expect him to play even more than his already spectacular 36.2MPG to about 38.0MPG. He is the reason the Gaels are in the Tournament and he will be the reason they make it as far as they do. He sustained a minor leg injury in the game vs Middle Tennessee today so unless that bothers him more than we all hope, Dellavedova will continue to be the go-to man. Mitchell’s 20.1MPG could also be increased; as evidenced by todays 26minutes in the Mid Tennessee victory. Jorden Page in injured and looks unlikely to participate in the Tournament, which is a big blow for the Gaels as their best Number 2. And finally, Matthew Hodgson, although looking good towards the end of the season, will probably see his minutes drop from 10.5 to close to 2. He only played 1 minute in todays game; expect the same against memphis. If the Gaels do make it past Memphis as I think they very well could, they will set up a Round of 32 date with most likely Michigan State. Getting past the Spartans would be an even bigger feat. Including todays game, I would expect the Gaels to produce 198 “Australian minutes” of court time throughout the Tournament. If they fall to Memphis however, that number would drop to about 132. Boise State (Playing for 13th Seed in West)Number of Australians: 2 (Anthony Drmic – 31.9MPG, Igor Hadziomerovic – 26.0MPG)Just like St Mary’s, the Broncos just scraped in the Tournament after finishing the season fifth in the MWC with a record of 21-10 (9-7). They will play tomorrow against La Sale in the fourth play-in game for a place as a 13th seed in the Round of 64 vs Kansas State. Again like St Mary’s, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Broncos not only win their play-in game, but if they also pull off a victory against K-State. Boise State will be lead by Australian Sophomore Anthony Drmic, whose 17.3PPG is good for a team high.  Drmic made the All-MWC Second Team after a very impressive season that really marked Drmic as one of the best Sophomores and three-point scorers in the Nation. The thing with Boise State however, is that they are a very balanced team with eight players averaging over ten minutes a game and six players averaging over twenty. Expect the same for the Tournament.If the Broncos do manage to win their play-in game, as well as their game against K-State, we can expect to see close to 174 “Australian minutes” from the Broncos. If they fall to K-State however, expect that number to drop to 116.New Mexico (3rd Seed in West):Number of Australians: 2 (Cam Bairstow – 24.0MPG, Hugh Greenwood – 28.4MPG)New Mexico has been a very solid team all season and, after wrapping a very tightly fought Mountain West Conference Tournament, the Lobos secured the 3rd seed in the West and an opening match-up vs Harvard. If they manage to get past the Crimson which they should, they’ll either meet up with Arizona or Belmont in the Round of 32. If things go their way, they should make it past either of these teams too. If hypothetically, they do make it to the Sweet 16, they’ll most likely come up against 2nd seed Ohio State. From here, anything can happen.If the Lobos make it to the Sweet 16 as projected, we will see close to 157 “Australian minutes” from the Lobos. Valparaiso (14th Seed in Midwest):Number of Australians: 1 (Ryan Broekhoff – 32.0MPG)Valparaiso had little trouble in the Horizon League this season on the back of Australian Ryan Broekhoff’s team high 15.9PPG and 7.3RPG to finish the season 26-7. The Crusaders have secured the 14th seed in the Midwest and a date with Michigan State. This will be a very tough match-up for the Crusaders whose season SOS (0.49; 151st in Nation really doesn’t let us know how well they will do against teams of Michigan State’s calibre. I can’t see the Crusaders beating the Spartans so we will probably only see close to 32 “Australian minutes” from Valpo. Butler (6th Seed in East): Number of Australians: 1 (Jackson Aldridge – 6.0MPG)Butler finished off the 2012-13 season 3rd in the Atlantic 10 standings with a 26-8 (11-5) record. They play Bucknell in the opening round and although Butler are the 6th seed, this is certainly a danger game for the Bulldogs. Just like with Colorado’s Shane-Harris Tunks, Jackson Aldridge, who only averages 6.0 MPG might not get a whole lot of game time in the Tournament. For the season, Aldridge has only had four games with over ten minutes of court time, including a season-high 21 minutes in a one point victory to Marquette.If Butler progress to the Round of 32, they will most likely play Marquette again. This time, I can’t see the Bulldogs taking away the W. We may only see 6 “Australian minutes” from the Bulldogs this Tournament, unless they can make another miracle run as they have done on more than one occasion in the past five years. Colorado (10th Seed in East):Number of Australians: 1 (Shane Harris-Tunks – 8.7MPG)Colorado has had a very impressive season finishing with a 21-11 record to cement a 10th seed in the East and a match-up with Illinois. Although Colorado are the underdogs here, a lot of people are tipping Colorado to pull off an upset. The Buffaloes have a number of quality wins including against Oregon (Twice), Arizona and Cal. For any player averaging under 10.0MPG throughout the regular season, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’d be lucky to play half of that in the NCAA Tournament, especially in what will be a very tough and hard-fought contest. I would only expect about 4 “Australian minutes” from the Buffaloes regardless if they win against Illinois or not. NC State (8th Seed in East):Number of Australians: 1 (Jordan Vandenberg – 5.4MPG)It’s difficult to say how NC State’s 2012-13 season campaign has been. They finished fourth in the ACC with a record of 24-10 (11-7) after being the pre-season ACC favourites. They were still good enough for the NCAA Selection Committee to give the Wolfpack an 8th seed in the East, but it does mean, however, that if they are to progress past the Round of 64 against 9th seed Temple, they will most likely be facing one of the hottest teams in the Nation; Indiana, in the Round of 32. Australian Jordan Vandenberg has only played three games with more than ten minutes court time, including a season high fourteen in a loss @ Wake Forest. Even more so than Harris-Tunks and Aldridge, Vandenberg’s minutes are likely to drop even more considering that the Wolfpacks strength is their front court. When your big men are the one’s giving you the best chance to win, you’re less likely to gamble on your second or third tier players. Barring any injuries, I can only see 2 “Australian minutes” from the Wolfpack this tournament. Although this is probably the best-case-scenario, we could potentially see a total of 573 Australian minutes throughout the Tournament. In the grand scheme of things, this may be only 4.6% of the entire 2,680 minutes of basketball throughout the Tournament, but it’s certainly reason enough to turn on the TV and hope that somehow, someone can make a Cinderella run to the Final Four or even the Championship Game. Don’t think it’s possible? You don’t know College Basketball. Christopher Tyler

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