TORONTO - With a monster performance on Sunday, Mississauga's Andrew Nicholson ensured that the NCAA tournament will have some extra Canadian content this year.
Nicholson, a senior who earned conference player of the year honours, scored 26 points, blocked eight shots and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead St. Bonaventure over Xavier 67-56 with a tourney berth on the line.
Nicholson got the Bonnies through for the first time since 2000, and likely solidified himself as a first round pick at the NBA Draft in June.
St. Bonaventure, 20-11, was also helped by Toronto's Matthew Wright, who hit clutch free throws in each of the team’s previous two games. Chris Johnson of Preston, NS is also on the squad.
The No. 14 seeds will clash with No. 3 Florida State in Nashville.
Despite failing to win the Big East tournament, Syracuse and Montreal’s Kris Joseph still earned a top seed thanks to a 31-2 record and will meet No. 16 UNC Asheville in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Kentucky lost as well but is the top seed overall and will be helped off the bench by Kyle Wiltjer, Portland-born, but the son of former national teamer Greg Wiltjer.
No. 3 Baylor will take on No. 14 South Dakota State on Thursday in Albuquerque, NM, assisted by sharpshooter Brady Heslip of Burlington, the nephew of Jay Triano. Brampton’s Taevaunn Prince plays for South Dakota State.
Gonzaga with Newmarket’s Kevin Pangos and North Vancouver’s Robert Sacre earned a seventh seed and will meet No. 10 West Virginia.
New Mexico State will be there as a No. 13 seed after winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
The 26-9 Aggies boast four Canadians – Montreal’s Hernst Laroche, Toronto’s Daniel Mullings and Renaldo Dixon and Hamilton’s Tyrone Watson. Associate head coach Paul Weir is a former Toronto high school all-star and a York graduate.
No. 4 seeded Indiana, 25-8, will meet the Aggies in Portland. The presence of future NBAer Cody Zeller makes that an awfully tough matchup.
Texas will limp into the madness with Toronto’s Myck Kabongo, a year after heading in as contenders behind future first round picks Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.
The Longhorns are a No. 11 seed and will meet No. 6 Cincinnati in Nashville.
Fellow Toronto point guard Junior Cadougan helped Marquette earn a No. 3 seed and a date with the winner of BYU-Iona (Iona has Montreal’s Randy Dezouvre on its roster).
No. 9 Saint Louis has Brampton’s Grandy Glaze and will face No. 8 Memphis. Swingman Stefan Cyrkalj of Vaughan, ON and Lehigh will be in tough against No. 2 Duke in Greensboro, NC, while Montreal’s Niko Cochran and No. 13 Davidson will meet No. 4 Louisville.
The challenge will be just as daunting for No. 16 Long Island and Canadians Arnold Mayorga (London), Troy Joseph (Toronto) and Robinson Odoch-Opong (Quebec City), who will face No. 1 Michigan State on Friday in Columbus.
Toronto's Jason Calliste and No. 15 Detroit will play No. 2 Kansas.
Toronto's Melvin Ejim and No. 8 Iowa State will be up against defending champion and No. 9 seeded Connecticut.
Ottawa’s Jahenns Manigat and Creighton will face Alabama.
Toronto's Alex Johnson and North Carolina State will take on No. 6 San Diego State in Columbus.
Vancouver's Emerson Murray and California could get in with a win over South Florida.
Harvard made the tournament for the first time since 1946, meaning Saint-Bruno QC’s Laurent Rivard will get to experience the Madness against No. 4 Wisconsin.