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Canadians take centre stage in Sweet 16 clash between Purdue, Gonzaga on TSN


NCAA March Madness rolls on, and Friday's Sweet 16 action features prominent Canadians on both the men's and women's side, looking to push their teams to the Elite Eight. 

It begins with the top seed in the Midwest bracket, Purdue, led by back-to-back Naismith Men's College Player of the Year finalist Zach Edey of Toronto, battling No. 5 Gonzaga and guard Ryan Nembhard, of Aurora, Ont. 

You can watch Purdue clash with Gonzaga LIVE on TSN4, and the TSN App, with coverage beginning at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. 

Purdue cruised through their first two rounds of the tournament with easy wins over Grambling State (78-50) and Utah State (106-67), largely due to the efforts of Edey.

The 21-year-old put up 31 points and 20 rebounds against Grambling State (the first player to eclipse 30 points and 20 rebounds in a March Madness game since 1995), and chipped in 23 points and 14 rebounds against Utah State on Sunday.

After Purdue was eliminated in a shocking upset by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in last year's opening round - only the second No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose their opening game - Edey is happy to avoid that fate again this year, but knows Purdue has more to play for as well.

"Obviously, when you win two games, that's what you want to do," Edey told TSN's Daniel Zakrzewski on Thursday. "I don't think anyone's satisfied... we feel like we've done what we're supposed to do, and we have a lot of games in front of us." 

The difficulty will be increased for their game against Gonzaga, the No. 5 seed in the Midwest region. The Bulldogs earned big wins in their two opening games of this tournament against No. 12 McNeese (86-65) and No. 4 Kansas in the second round (89-68). 

Nembhard recorded five points, 12 assists and five rebounds in their victory over Kansas. The 21-year-old junior's 6.9 assists per game ranked eighth in men's Division 1 play in the country this season.

"He's really good, a really good point guard," Edey said of Nembhard. "He can handle the ball really well, shoot it, create for his team, he's really good with the pick-and-roll ... [we need to] try to limit him and keep him away from his spots."

Nembhard, who has played alongside Edey on Canada's national team, knows the difficulty of the matchup and stopping Edey, but isn't backing down from the challenge.

"He's a tough cover, he's a monster, obviously," Nembhard said of Edey. "We're gonna give it our best, we're definitely gonna try to stop him, we have a great game plan for him."

These teams met once back in November this season and Edey was dominant. The 7-foot-4 centre totalled 25 points and 14 rebounds in a 73-63 victory for the Boilermakers.


Calgary's Yvonne Ejim leads Gonzaga against Texas on the women's side

Later on in the evening, Yvonne Ejim of Calgary will try to lead No. 4 Gonzaga to an upset victory over No. 1 Texas on the women's side of the Sweet 16.

Watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs battle the Texas Longhorns LIVE on TSN2, and the TSN App, with coverage starting at 10pm ET / 7pm PT. 

Ejim has contributed double-doubles in each of Gonzaga's first two victories. She scored 25 points with 14 rebounds in their opening-round win over No. 13 UC Irvine (75-56), and added 17 points and 13 boards against No. 5 Utah (77-66) in the second round. 

If Gonzaga is able to overcome Texas, they will advance to the Elite Eight for just the second time in program history.

The Longhorns emerged as the top seed in Region 4 after winning the Big 12 tournament over Iowa State. They are led by junior guard Rori Harmon, who is a finalist for Naismith Women's College Player of the Year after averaging 14.1 points, 7.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game.

This is the first meeting between these two schools in program history.