21 Canadians to watch in NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

We are over halfway into March, which means it’s time for U.S. college basketball to take over.

The men’s tournament, aka March Madness, has been growing in popularity over recent years in Canada. You don’t need to be a super fan to enjoy filling out a bracket and cheering for your “favourite” schools to victory. The men’s tournament, which kicked off on Tuesday with the play-in games of the first round, is now in full swing with 16 games today and another 16 tomorrow.

RELATED: More than 25 Canadians ready to play in March Madness

Along with the increase in popularity, Canada has seen a big improvement in the quality of Canadian players taking part in the tournament. Well, it’s not just the boys anymore.

Ruth Hamblin, Breanna Workman

Centre Ruth Hamblin will be a big part of No. 3 seed Oregon State’s recipe for success. (Photo: Canadian Press)

The women’s version of March Madness, which kicks off Friday with 16 games, has also seen an increase in popularity. Even U.S. president Barack Obama, who has always been a big basketball fan, fills out a bracket for the women’s tournament as well as the men’s.

Last year, Obama picked the eventual winners of the women’s tournament, University of Connecticut, and finished in the 98th percentile according to ESPN. He’s going with UConn again this year, partially because of the contribution of Canadian freshman guard Kia Nurse.

Kia Nurse is looking to help Connecticut to a second straight national title. (Photo: CP)

Kia Nurse will be looking to help Connecticut win a second straight national title. (Photo: CP)

Similar to the men’s game, the amount of high-quality Canadian talent has seen a significant spike. This year there are 21 Canadian women who could see playing time by the end of the tournament, nine of whom have played on a Canadian national team before. It is possible that several of them will find their way onto Canada’s teams for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, the FIBA Americas women’s tournament in Edmonton this summer, and eventually the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Here is a list of the Canadian participants that you can cheer for and get to know from a list provided by Canada Basketball (listed by school-ranking-player; players in bold have played on a Canadian national team).

Albany Regional

Connecticut (#1) – Kia Nurse

Dayton (#7) – Saicha Grant-Allen

Spokane Regional

Oregon St (#3) – Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner, Kolbie Orum

Green Bay (#9) – Megan Lukan, Kaili Lukan

Pittsburgh (#10) – Frederique Potvin

Gonzaga (#11) – Emma Wolfram, Kacie Bosch

Tulane (#12) – Caylah Cruickshank

Albany (#13) – Jessica Fequire, Cassandra Edwards

Boise St (#15) – Lexie Der

Oklahoma City Regional

Iowa (#3) – Christina Buttenham

Northwestern (#7) – Karly Roser

Quinnipiac (#12) – Sarah Shewan

Greensboro Regional

Florida St (#2) – Adut Bulgak

Arizona St (#3) – Quinn Dornstauder, Isidora Pukovic

Nebraska (#9) – Esther Ramercier