Basketball

It's March Madness time, but with a Canadian flavour

It's another year of trying to do the impossible: predict a perfect March Madness bracket. Do you go all-in on the top seeds or hedge your bets with a few Cinderella stories? Do you do hours of research or flip a coin?

CBC Sports predicts NCAA men’s bracket in the most Canadian way possible

Alabama boasts not one but two Canadians — freshmen Joshua Primo, left, and Keon Amrose-Hylton (22), who are both from Toronto. (Getty Images/Associated Press)

It's another year of trying to do the impossible: predict a perfect March Madness bracket.

Do you go all-in on the top seeds or hedge your bets with a few Cinderella stories? Do you do hours of research or flip a coin?

Considering the odds of picking a perfect bracket — a feat that has literally never been achieved — are about 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that's a lot of zeros), we're not sure the method you use even really matters.

That's why we're taking a different approach this year by setting out to make the most Canadian bracket possible, a winner in our hearts if not in our wallets.

The Method

We carefully combed through all 68 team rosters to find the Canadian players.

For the purposes of our bracket, the team with the most Canadians moves on. If both teams in a match-up happen to have the same number of Canadian players, we take the higher seed.

If a match-up doesn't have a clear choice, we get creative, like giving the nod to Michigan as the alma mater of North Court's very own Jevohn Shepherd.

Finally, if there were no Canadians or Canadian connections on either roster, we simply chose the team that had the closest proximity to Canada. Sorry, Florida; We The North, after all.

West Picks

(CBC Sports)

A respectable six teams in the West region have Canadians on their roster, and that includes No. 1 seed and tournament favourite Gonzaga who comes into March Madness as the only undefeated team.

But to keep it Canadian, it was all eyes on UC Santa Barbara, the only school in the region to have two Canadians on its roster — Brandon Cyrus of Oakville, Ont., and Max Cheylov of Toronto.

That much Canadian talent was enough for us to pick No. 12 UCSB as our giant killer and take them past Gonzaga all the way to the Final Four.

Other Canadians on West rosters: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga - Aurora, Ont.), Victor Radocaj (East Washington - Richmond B.C.), Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon - Rexdale, Ont.), Okay Djamgouz (Drake - Toronto)

East Picks

(CBC Sports)

The East is the quietest region for Canadian talent, having just four teams with Canucks on their roster.

But after a chaotic first round in our bracket (and a lot of mapping which schools were closer to Canada) a clear favourite emerged: No. 2 Alabama.

Like UCSB, Alabama boasts not one but two Canadians — freshmen Joshua Primo and Keon Ambrose-Hylon, both from Toronto. That was enough to catch our attention and send them straight into the Final Four.

At the other end of the bracket, No. 1 seeded Michigan is without a Canadian player, but received some special treatment in our bracket as CBC's North Courts co-host Jevohn Shepherd played basketball there in the late 2000s.

That was enough for us to take Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen, where they ran into their first game against a Canadian player in Colorado and Keeshan Barthelemy of Montreal, and it was game over for the Wolverines.

Other Canadians on East rosters: Jahvon Blair (Georgetown - Brampton, Ont.), Nathaneal Jack (Florida State - Mississauga, Ont.)

South Picks

(CBC Sports)

You heard it here first, welcome to the region of Cinderella stories.

With neither of the top seeded teams boasting a Canadian on their roster, our bracket has No. 16 Hartford taking a huge upset victory over No. 1 Baylor (based solely on proximity to Canada), and No. 2 Ohio State falling to No. 15 Oral Roberts and Elijah Lufile of Milton, Ont.

And then there's No. 14 Colgate, the third team in our bracket with two Canadians on the roster in Sam Thomson from Otterville, Ont., and Malcolm Bailey from Stratford, Ont.

And just like that, we've got a 14 seed in our Final Four. Hate it or love it, the underdog's on top.

Other Canadians on South rosters: Liam McChesney (Utah State - Prince Rupert, B.C.), Zach Edey (Purdue - Toronto)

Midwest Picks

(CBC Sports)

Things get especially interesting in the Midwest, as seven of the 16 teams in the first round have a Canadian on their roster and sailed into the Round of 32, meaning we only had to break out the map once to decide a winner.

Once teams got out of the first round, it was all about seeding. With no two-Canadian team to take the edge, our Final Four pick was the highest seed left, No. 3 West Virginia and Gabe Osabuohien of Toronto.

Other Canadians on Midwest rosters: Matey Juric (Drexel - Toronto), Aher Uguak (Loyola Chicago - Edmonton), Maurice Calloo (Oregon State - Windsor, Ont.), Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (Oklahoma State - Mono, Ont.), Quincy Guerrier (Syracuse - Montreal), Olivier-Maxence Proser (Clemson - Montreal)

Final Four

(CBC Sports)

After the dust settled, we landed with three high seeds and a Cinderella story in our Final Four predictions. Seems very March Madness, no?

This is also where that Cinderella story comes to an end, as No. 12 UCSB meets a much higher seeded opponent in No. 2 Alabama in the semifinals, two of three Final Four teams with two Canadians on the roster.

The third team is No. 14 Colgate, who makes quick work of No. 3 West Virginia and their solo rostered Canadian in the semifinal.

That lines up an NCAA finals clash featuring four Canadians between the two teams. But in the end, we're giving the edge to the higher seeded Alabama and their dynamic Canadian freshman duo of Primo and Ambrose-Hylton.

So there you have it.

63 games later, the most Canadian bracket we could muster ends with the Crimson Tide cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. Nothing like a little red and white confetti to set the mood.

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