Five Canadian Women To Watch In The NCAA Tournament

Written By Jose Colorado on March 18, 2022
Laeticia Amihere Canada Women's NCAA Tournament

Odds are in favour of a Canadian woman bringing home the NCAA championship for the second consecutive year.

That’s because 20 homegrown talents will be suiting up in this year’s March Madness, which continues through April 3.

Of those, eight Canadians will be playing on teams seeded Nos. 1-4 in their respective regions

Last year, Toronto’s Alyssa Jerome and the Stanford Cardinal won the championship.

While you can bet on her to repeat at provincial lotteries across the country, Canada’s first free-market sports betting launch in Ontario is set for April 4, the day after the final.

Nonetheless, bettors can still place single-game bets on Ontario’s Proline Plus sportsbook for the time being.

PlayCanada highlights some of the most notable Canadians and their teams.

1. Laeticia Amihere, South Carolina Gamecocks (No. 1, Greensboro region)

Canada’s most highly touted women’s college basketball prospect also plays for the best team in the nation. That made-in-heaven pairing is Laeticia Amihere and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

At just 16 years old, Amihere gained internet fame back in 2007 when she dunked in a high school game. Fast forward to 2022 and the Mississauga native is a key cog for college basketball’s odds-on favourites.

And that is with good reason.

The Gamecocks became the first team since 2018 to hold the No. 1 Associated Press ranking for the entire regular season.

As for Amihere, expect steady contribution throughout the tourney. Despite starting in only three games, the 20-year-old has averaged 7.1 points per game and 4 rebounds per contest.

Should she have a great showing, a call-up to the WNBA is not out of the question.

South Carolina championship odds by major operators expected to be Ontario sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: Odds-on favourite at +160 (2.60)
  • FanDuel: Odds-on favourites at +185 (2.85)
  • BetMGM:  Odds-on favourites at +180 (2.8)

2. Shaina Pellington, Arizona Wildcats (No. 4, Greenboro)

Pickering native Shaina Pellington and her Arizona Wildcats were last year’s Cinderella story.

Ranked as the No. 3 seed, the club fell just short of capturing its first title in school history via a heartbreaking 54-53 loss to Stanford.

It was a heartwarming story. But in all likelihood, a repeat run at the glass slipper looks unlikely.

For starters, the club has lost three of its last four games.

That includes Arizona’s first-round matchup of the Pac-12 tournament (Colorado) where they shot an abysmal 25% from the floor. Plus, Arizona’s leading scorer, Cate Reese, hasn’t played since Feb. 20.

All of this isn’t to take away from Pellington. At nearly 11 points per game (second-highest on the team), along with 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, the Canadian has been one of the bright spots for the Wildcats.

But if bettors were interested in a club bound for the Sweet Sixteen or Final Four, they may be well served to look elsewhere.

Arizona Wildcats championship odds by major sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: Eighth-best odds at +5000 (51.00)
  • FanDuel: Seventh-best odds at +3200 (33.00)
  • BetMGM:  Seventh-best odds at +3300 (34.00)

3. Aaliyah Edwards, UConn Huskies (No. 2, Bridgeport)

The words UConn Huskies no longer evokes fear to opponents. But it is still quite an accomplishment to make an impact at this storied program.

And Kingston’s Aaliyah Edwards is doing just that in her sophomore season.

At 7.9 points per game and 4.9 rebounds, bettors should see plenty of the Canadian come the tourney.

Much of that comes down to Edwards’ role. She does the dirty work as the team’s third-leading rebounder.

But she is also one of the most efficient on the floor (53.1% shooting).

Injuries have decimated the Huskies this season. But punters should be cautious against ruling this former dynasty completely out.

Despite UConn having not won a championship since 2016, the club has made 14 straight Final Four appearances.

At that stage, a bounce here and there can make the difference between winning and losing.

UConn Huskies championship odds by major sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: Second-best odds at +350 (4.5)
  • FanDuel: Second-best odds at +350 (4.5)
  • BetMGM: Second-best odds at +400 (5)

4. Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 9, Wichita)

It would be an absolute stunner if Yvonne Ejim (Calgary, Alberta) and the Gonzaga Bulldogs went past the first couple of rounds. But then again, the program has had to beat the odds to even get to the big dance in the first place.

Securing its sixth NCAA appearance, the Bulldogs upset BYU – seeded No. 5 – in the West Coast Conference tournament to clinch its spot.

Ejim has played a pivotal role in all of that.

In only her sophomore season the Calgary product has one of the better stat lines amongst Canadians in college basketball. She’s averaging 10 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting 50.9% from the floor in just 20.7 minutes per contest.

That is an outstanding leap from her previous year when she pulled in just four points and 2.2 rebounds in seven minutes.

Even if Ejim and the Bulldogs get an early exit, there could be plenty of Madness opportunities for her in the years to come.

Gonzaga Bulldogs championship odds by major sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: +15000 (151.00)
  • FanDuel: +50000 (501.00)
  • BetMGM: +50000 (501.00)

5. Alyssa Jerome, Stanford Cardinal (No. 1, Spokane)

Alyssa Jerome may not have the statistical output of the others on this list. But she is going for history – and that is something to watch for.

The Toronto native is attempting to become just the second Canadian in NCAA history to repeat as a back-to-back champion.

Toronto’s Kia Nurse was the last to do it with the UConn Huskies for their 2015 and ’16 titles.

At 3.8 minutes per game, Jerome likely won’t see much – if any – court time. Her minutes have dwindled as her career has progressed at Stanford. But her veteran experience could still be counted on.

Consider last year, the forward saw double-digit minutes in two of her team’s tourney games.

One of those came in the Sweet Sixteen so maybe there is some big-game trust there from her coach Tara VanDerveer.

As for how her team, the Cardinal are riding high a 20-game win streak and returned all by one player from its championship squad.

Stanford Cardinal championship odds by major sportsbooks:

  • DraftKings: Third-best odds at +500 (6.00)
  • FanDuel: Third-best odds at +480 (5.80)
  • BetMGM: Third-best odds at +450 (5.50)
Photo by Sean Rayford / Associated Press
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Jose Colorado

Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business and the occasional walk on the beach.

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