Matt Freeman, Jack Salt and Sam Waardenburg headed to the Big Dance

The draw for the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament was announced today and perhaps for the first time three New Zealand players will be involved.

Jack Salt

Having won the Atlantic Coast title at the weekend Jack Salt and the University of Virginia Cavaliers were guaranteed a spot in the 68-team knockout tournament. Virginia were picked by many as the No 1 seeds and that ranking was confirmed when the draw was published today.

The 31-2 Cavaliers will play University of Maryland, Baltimore County in Charlotte in the first round on March 16. This will be Virginia’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance under three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year Tony Bennett.


A day earlier the University of Miami Hurricanes, with freshman forward Sam Waardenburg playing an important role off the bench, will play Loyola-Chicago in Dallas. The Hurricanes are playing in their third consecutive NCAA Tournament and their fourth in seven seasons under head coach Jim Larranaga.

Matt Freemanpg

Also on March 15 Matt Freeman and the University of Oklahoma Sooners will face Rhode Island in Pittsburgh. It will be the fifth time the Sooners have attended the NCAA Tournament under the stewardship of head coach Lon Kruger. It is also the second time Freeman has been involved as Oklahoma went all the way to the Final Four in 2016 when the former Westlake standout was a redshirt freshman.

Oklahoma will be making its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 35 years.

The 80th edition of the ‘Big Dance’ tip’s-off on March 13 and concludes with the championship game in San Antonio on April 2.

The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) will also tip-off this week. Sam Timmins and the Washington Huskies will take on Boise State in the first round on March 14.

The draw for the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Tournament will be announced tomorrow with Tessa Boagni (California State, Northridge), Jacinta Beckley (Seattle), Krystal Leger-Walker and Tiarna Clarke (both Northern Colorado) all sure of places after conference championship wins at the weekend.

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