4 Canadians will play key roles in final fours this weekend

4 Canadians will play key roles in final fours this weekend

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Also, no newsletter on Good Friday or Easter Monday. Back Tuesday.

OK, here’s what to know for today:

Good things come in fours

Starting tonight, the Easter long weekend will feature four Canadian athletes playing a prominent role in a final four (or, for most of them, a Final Four). Here’s a bit about each:

Bianca Andreescu: She’s back, folks. After nearly a year and a half of injury-induced frustration, the Canadian tennis star has put together her most meaningful tournament run since she won the 2019 U.S. Open. Andreescu won a hard-fought match vs. Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo last night to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open. She also made the semis of the Phillip Island Trophy in Australia in February, but that was a low-stakes event with weak competition — players who’d either been eliminated quickly from the Australian Open or didn’t qualify. Miami is in the WTA 1000 tier — just a cut below the Grand Slams. Andreescu hasn’t made the semifinals at a tournament of this calibre or better since her historic Grand Slam title in New York in September 2019. That was also the last time she reached a final of any kind. Andreescu can end that drought tonight when she faces Maria Sakkari sometime after 8:30 p.m. ET. Sakkari is ranked 25th in the world (16 spots below Andreescu) but the powerful Greek just destroyed Naomi Osaka 6-0, 6-4 in the quarters, snapping the world No. 2’s 23-match win streak. The winner meets No. 1-ranked Ash Barty or No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the final on Saturday.

Aaliyah Edwards: The most impressive Canadian in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament helped UConn reach its 13th consecutive Final Four by averaging 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds over the first four rounds. Edwards, a freshman forward, won the Big East Conference’s Sixth Woman of the Year award after coming off the bench for most of the regular season, but she’s started the last three games. With freshman sensation Paige Bueckers leading the way, UConn is heavily favoured to beat Arizona on Friday night and will likely meet top-ranked Stanford in Sunday’s final. Canadian Shaina Pellington is part of Arizona’s rotation and is averaging 4.5 points in the tournament.

Laeticia Amihere: The sophomore forward hopes to literally block Stanford’s path to the title game in Friday’s other Final Four matchup. Amihere swatted away nine shots and added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench in South Carolina’s blowout of Texas in the last round. She’s averaging 11 points and eight boards in the tournament. Stanford has its own Canadian player, Alyssa Jerome, but she didn’t get on the court in their last game and has yet to score in the tournament. For more on the Final Four, check out the latest newsletter from our friends at The GIST, who cover women’s sports with a unique voice year-round.

Andrew Nembhard: Gonzaga is two wins away from becoming the first undefeated NCAA men’s basketball champion in 45 years, and a Canadian starts for them. Nembhard isn’t an elite scorer (8.7 points per game in the tournament) but he’s capable of big games like his 17-point, eight-assist outburst vs. Creighton in the third round. And apparently he doesn’t get tired: Nembhard played 110 of a possible 120 minutes in the last three rounds. Gonzaga is an absolute juggernaut that has blown out its four opponents by an average of 24 points. But if it ever gets tested — either in Saturday night’s Final Four matchup vs. Cinderella UCLA or in Monday’s championship game — there’s a good chance Nembhard is one of the guys coach Mark Few will count on in crunch time.

UConn freshman Aaliyah Edwards has been the most impressive Canadian in the NCAA women’s tournament. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Quickly…

The police know what happened to Tiger Woods. But they’re not telling. Citing unspecified “privacy issues,” the sheriff of Los Angeles County said yesterday that he couldn’t reveal exactly what detectives determined caused the single-vehicle crash that seriously injured Woods last month. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has called the crash “purely an accident” and indicated there was no evidence of impairment. In yesterday’s update, he said his team has “reached out” to Woods and his camp about waiving the privacy concerns so that the investigation findings can be released to the public. Read more here.

The men’s curling world championship starts tomorrow in Calgary. First-time Brier winner Brendan Bottcher and his rink will try to capture Canada’s first world title since Brad Gushue’s team did it in 2017. Their opponents include Sweden’s Nik Edin, who’s going for a three-peat after beating Brad Gushue and Kevin Koe in the last two finals, and reigning Olympic champion John Shuster of the United States. Read more about Bottcher here and get a quick snippet on each of the 14 teams here. Also, That Curling Show is back. Join hosts Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on the CBC Sports YouTube channel as they preview the worlds and chat with Bottcher, Edin and Shuster (that’s right, they’re all on tonight’s show).

And finally…

The Sabres won a game! Their tragicomic 18-game losing streak (an unofficial NHL record) ended last night with a cathartic 6-1 blowout of the same Flyers team that prolonged their misery by rallying from a 3-0 third-period deficit two nights before. But Buffalo is hardly out of the woods. They’re last overall by nine points, they’ve been shut out as many times (seven) as they’ve won, and their two best players (Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall) have scored four goals this season. Combined. Nashville’s Rocco Grimaldi, who you’ve possibly never heard of, matched that output by himself in one game last week.

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Published at Thu, 01 Apr 2021 20:53:48 +0000