- National Teams
March Madness is upon us and the NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Tournament will feature no less than 11 Brits on the court, along with one assistant coach.
Montana State’s Jubrile Belo, Great Osobor, Caleb Fuller and assistant coach Chris Haslam, along with Priceton’s Tosan Evbuomwan, VCU’s Tobi Lawal, and Kennesaw State’s Yves Nkomba were all automatic qualifiers with their schools after winning their respective conference tournaments, while RJ Eytle-Rock & Dan Akin at Utah State, Josh Ogundele and James Okonkwo all won at-large bids, along with Nevada’s Michael Folarin who are in the play-in First Four.
Here’s a closer look at the Brits in the Big Dance:
Thursday 16th March – 22:40 GMT
vs Auburn 
Ogundele and Iowa will be going to their third consecutive NCAA tournament, are winning an at-large bid from the committee.
The Hawkeyes will be an 8-seed in the Midwest Region. They’ll play 9-seed Auburn, a SEC at-large team, on Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama.
Minutes have been hard to come by for Ogundele, appearing in 11 games, where he has average 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Iowa enters the tournament field under much different circumstances than last year, as they won the Big Ten tournament and were one of the hottest teams in the country; this year the Hawkeyes had a chance for a second-place regular season finish this season but lost to Nebraska in the final game to fall to fifth before being bounced out of the conference tournament after just one game against No. 13 seed Ohio State.
Thursday 16th March – 16:15 GMT
vs Maryland 
James Okonkwo has been one of the revelations off the bench for West Virginia this season and will now be hoping that energy carries through into March Madness.
West Virginia were knocked out in the Quarter Finals of the Big 12 Tournament at the hands of Kansas (where Okonkwo had 5 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes), and so receive an at-large bid to face Maryland in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday.
Making 30 appearances on the season, Okonkwo has averaged 2.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 10.2 minutes, using his athleticism to wreak havoc and someone West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins has said “could end up being a force in college basketball if he continues to improve.”
Thursday 16th March – 17:40 GMT
vs Missouri 
RJ Eytle-Rock and Dan Akin go way back; starting at England Under-17s, going on to Barking Abbey, and then having time together at UMBC before both joining their former UMBC Head Coach Ryan Odom at Utah State this season – where they will now enjoy a final chapter together in the NCAA tournament.
They fell in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship game, 62-57, at the hands of San Diego State, and receive an at-large bid as a 10th seed to face seventh-seeded Missouri in a nationally televised TNT game in the first round of the South Region on Thursday in Sacramento, California.
Akin is the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 11.7 points off the bench in league play, while shooting a team-best 66.4 percent (71-of-107) from the floor.
Meanwhile, RJ is averaging 3.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and an assist per game in 12.3 minutes across 33 appearances while helping the Aggies to a 24-7 record.
Utah State make their 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, including its 11th in the last 24 years – and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas is picking them to upset Missouri.
Thursday 16th March – 01:10 GMT
vs Arizona State (11]
It’s being labelled as a surprise that they’re in, but Nevada finished with an overall record of 22-10, including a mark of 12-6 in Mountain West play. Nevada went 14-1 on their home court, earning two victories against AP-Top 25 opponents.
They will take on Arizona State in a ‘First Four’ play-in game to see who makes the bracket of 64. Michael Folarin, who transferred to Nevada from Eastern Washington last season, unfortunately had a season-ending knee surgery in October so is getting a medical redshirt for the year.
Though he won’t be able to suit up, he will be with the team and should be able to be seen cheering them on!
Friday 17th March – 18:00 GMT
vs St Mary’s 
Winning an A-10 regular season title and a Conference Tournament title is not bad going for a Freshman year, and now Tobi Lawal will go Dancing as well.
The 6’9″ super athlete out of City of London Academy is averaging 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in a little under 6 minutes per outing, but has still managed to get a number of highlight reel dunks including the one in the above photo where he had to duck his head to prevent it hitting on the rim.
Lawal and twelfth-seeded VCU will take on fifth-seeded St. Mary’s on Friday in Albany, N.Y..
Saturday 18th March – 01:40 GMT
vs Kansas State 
The team that every Brit should root for, with an overrepresentation of Brits down to the work of assistant Coach Chris Haslam, will go to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time in programme history after winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the second straight year.
Belo and Osobor received recognition in the end of season conference awards, while Caleb Fuller has provided ample support in his only year with the Bobcats after a stellar career with UC Davis, averaging 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 24.5 minutes per game.
The Bobcats will hope to go further than last year where they lost in the first round at the hands of Texas Tech.
Friday 17th March – 16:40 GMT
vs Xavier 
A 6’11” JUCO transfer from Three Rivers (where fellow Brit Hosana Kitenge currently attends), Yves Nkomba joined Kennesaw State ahead of this season with three years of eligibility remaining.
He’s appeared in nine games on the season, averaging 0.8 points and 0.7 rebounds per game, in what has been a remarkable year for the Owls, who earned an automatic bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament after claiming their first-ever ASUN Tournament title thanks to a 67-66 victory over Liberty and have become the fastest team in NCAA history to reach the tournament after a one-win season, accomplishing the feat in just three years after a 1-28 record in the 2019-20 season.
The Owls were awarded a No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region, and will face 3-seed Xavier on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Owls never had a winning record in their Division I history (since 2005-06) before this season and shattered the previous school record of 14 wins as KSU currently stands at 26-8 overall. That includes a school-record 15-3 mark in ASUN Conference play, which earned them a share of the conference regular season title.
Thursday 16th March – 20:10 GMT
vs Arizona 
Tosan Evbuomwan has had the most impressive individual season out of all the Brits heading to the NCAA Tournament, punctuated by winning the Ivy League tournament on Sunday and being named Most Outstanding Player.
After a season last year that saw him named unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year, he has had another All-First team season, but will hope to finish his college career on a high with a run in the NCAA tournament.
Tosan is averaging 15 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists on 52.7% shooting on the season, and will lead No. 15 seed Princeton – who went 21-8 overall – against No. 2 seed Arizona in the South Regional on Thursday in Sacramento, California.
Selected games will be shown live on BT Sport, while you can also sign up to ESPN Player for all of the action throughout the tournament with a 7-day free trial available to new customers