Sunday, 28 January 2007

Newest Top 10 Thoughts

Two games in Atlantic Canada this afternoon:

Memorial (4-8, 8 pts) 64 vs. Saint Mary's (6-6, 18 pts) 87 AT HALIFAX METRO CENTRE The Huskies rebounded from a tough home loss on Saturday against UNB to dominate Memorial as Aaron Duncan had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
Cape Breton (10-1, 30 pts) 66 at UPEI (4-8, 16 pts) 61 The Capers moved into sole possession of first place and six points ahead of X in the battle for one of two byes in the first round of the AUS Final 6.

Western's Brad Campbell talks about the turnaround of the Mustangs with the London Free Press Coaches Help Mustangs Rebound

An article from Saturday's Ottawa Citizen by Wayne Kondro on the Gee-Gees come-from-behind win against York on Friday Gee-Gees Atone for earlier setback

Wayne also reports on Carleton's loss to York last night Lions Humble Ravens in first half en route to convincing victory

AUS wrap up from Chad Lucas of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald X adjusts to Metro Centre, wins big over Dal

Jacob Doerksen hit a buzzer-beating three in Vic's tight win at home against Simon Fraser Vikes Prayer Answered

UBC defeated Trinity Western in a closer game Saturday than it was on Thursday. Casey Archibald did not play for UBC after suffering an ankle injury on Thursday while Spartans star guard Brian Banman missed both games this weekend. UBC Sweeps Trinity Western

CISHOOPS.CA TOP 10 for week of January 29th, 2007

#1 Brandon (16-2 in Canada West, 23-3 vs. CIS overall): LAST WEEK: a pair of tight wins at home against Manitoba 83-81, 87-85. UPDATE: Winners of nine in a row and sailing in first place in Canada West Great Plains, the Bobcats have 3 wins against Top 10 competition: a pair of home wins two weeks ago against UBC and Victoria and a neutral court win at the Wesmen Classic against #10 Toronto. Bobcats have also lost to Winnipeg twice (once in the finals of the Wesmen Classic) and also to Trinity Western in their second league game of the season in November. Brandon's last 4 games are against Regina twice at home and then home and home with Winnipeg before awaiting the winner of the Best-of-3 Great Plains semi-final. All 3 games of the Best-of-3 division final will be played in Brandon. Have had an easy schedule relative to other Top 10 teams including 2 games at home against UVic and UBC, the Bobcats need to win out to maintain their #1 ranking.

#2 Concordia (9-1 in QSSF, 14-2 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: Defeated UQAM 92-70 UPDATE: With only one loss since the pre-season and the return of star guard Damian Buckley, the Stingers once again are looking like the prohibitive favorite in the "Q". The Stingers are 2-0 against teams in the Top 10: wins out west over the holidays against Victoria and at UBC as well as a six point win vs. Brock at the Laurier tournament in October. Concordia faces Bishop's next Friday night and then have 2 meetings with Laval in the final 2 weeks of the regular season.

#3 Windsor (12-3 in OUA, 15-4 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: won a pair of home games defeating Guelph 86-51 and McMaster 85-66. UPDATE: The Lancers remain the class of the OUA West with a somewhat-decisive loss at Brock as their only post-holiday blemish. The emergence of their bench will only help their depth that includes a top point guard in Ryan Steer and two Division 1 transfers up front in Kevin Kloostra and Greg Surmacz. With the home advantage all but sewn up throughout the OUA playoffs (including Wilson Cup), a high or even top seed at Halifax is their's for the taking. Two of Windsor's four losses have come decisively on the road at Brock and at York - the other two have come to Carleton in close games. Windsor is 3-2 vs. the current Top 10 including the 2 losses to Carleton and wins against Toronto (big comeback), Ottawa (decisive) and Victoria at Carleton's House-Laughton tournament.

#4 Carleton (15-2 in OUA, 23-2 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: Lost 64-62 to Ottawa at Scotiabank Place; defeated Laurentian 77-53 at home, lost at home to York 95-81. UPDATE: Last season, the Ravens also lost a pair of games within about a week of each other (at Brock and then at home to Ottawa) but recovered to win another National championship, even without 6'7" Aaron Doornekamp. With a game on the road at Toronto this Saturday, Carleton has a chance to get back to where they feel they belong. The possibility is slim, however if cross-town rival Ottawa wins out, including a win over Carleton at Montpetit Hall on the last weekend of the season, Carleton may not even finish first. Look for the Ravens, who finish their season with 5 consecutive road games including at #10 Toronto, at Queen's and at #7 Ottawa, to use this week as extra motivation to ensure that possibility never happens. The Ravens are 5-1 vs. teams currently in the Top 10 including 2-0 against Windsor and wins at home against Toronto plus early season wins against Victoria and Cape Breton.

#5 UBC (17-2 in Canada West, 23-3 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: Swept a pair of home games with Trinity Western 101-79 and 85-77. UPDATE: Won on Saturday despite the absence of star guard Casey Archibald as Manitoba transfer Chris Dyck had 27 first-half points on Thursday and hit big shots down the stretch on Saturday. The T-Birds own one game lead and a 2-1 series lead on arch-rival Victoria in the battle for top spot in the Pacific. Both teams travel to Alberta next week to face U of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the top two teams in Mountain division, before closing their regular season at home against winless Thompson Rivers and non-playoff team Fraser Valley. All of UBC's three losses to CIS competition have come against ranked teams (at #1 Brandon, #2 Concordia at home, at #8 Victoria). The T-Birds are 3-3 against team including an early season victory against Cape Breton on a neutral court at the Memorial tournament in early October.

#6 Ottawa (14-3 in OUA, 23-3 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: defeated Carleton 64-62 at Scotiabank Place, defeated York at home 80-65, defeated Laurentian 78-63. UPDATE: Still with only 3 losses to CIS competition this season, Ottawa is riding a four game winning streak after handing Carleton their first loss against CIS competition and handling York by 15 as part of a 3-0 week. The Gee-Gees have gone back to their gambling ways on "d", pressuring and creating turnovers and are getting solid contributions from deeper in their bench with 6'5" David Labentowicz and 6'3" Donnie Gibson. 6'4" Josh Gibson-Bascombe, who missed the stretch run last season with a broken wrist, is healthy this season and emerging as an all-conference first team candidate. 6'3" Sean Peter has been much more consistent and the Gee-Gees can still rely on their 3 fifth-year seniors. Ottawa is 3-1 vs teams in the Top 10 with their only loss at Windsor in November. Much more will be learned about the Gee-Gees as their next 4 games are on the road including encounters at Toronto this Friday and at Queen's the following weekend.

#7 Cape Breton (10-1 in AUS, 15-6 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: Sunday at UPEI 66-61 and won at UPEI 83-57. UPDATE: Currently tied with Acadia for the AUS pennant but with 3 games in hand, the Capers latest run is making many forget about their lacklustre pre-season and decisive loss to York at the Ryerson tournament over the holidays when the Lions zone stymied Cape Breton in the second half. This team is very capable of making a National championship run with veterans at all key positions especially point guard with the steady if not spectacular Ryan Keliher. With 2 games remaining at second place Acadia and their final 3 games of the season on the road at Dalhousie, St. Mary's and St. FX on the final night of the season, the Capers will have to earn the #1 AUS ranking. The recent win at X was the Capers second win against a Top 10 team (2-3) with losses coming to Carleton, UBC and X.

#8 Victoria (16-3 Canada West, 20-6 vs. CIS overall): The Vikes struggled Saturday night at home against Simon Fraser, needing a buzzer-beater to defeat Simon Fraser but are dangerous team as long as sophomore guard 6'1" Josh Whyte continues his recent fine play. A tournament-tested team with a solid shooting guard in 6'2" Brandon Ellis and a tough, athletic front line which includes 6'5" Tyler Haas and 6'6" former CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Jacob Doerksen, the Vikes are definite Top 10 team. Fifth-year guard Steve Moore left Saturday's game against Simon Fraser with an injury and did not return. Victoria's ranking could be considerably higher except for a 1-6 record thus far against teams in the Top 10, with the only win coming against UBC at home (losses: UBC twice, at Brandon, vs. Concordia at UBC tournament, at Carleton, vs. Windsor in overtime at Carleton tournament). The Vikes travel to Saskatchewan and Alberta next weekend.

#9 St. Francis Xavier (8-4 in AUS, 16-4 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: lost 76-70 at Acadia; defeated Dal 83-53 at Halifax Metro Centre. UPDATE: Knocking down X five spots could be viewed as harsh however with 4 conference losses already and only third in their league, the young X-Men are starting to show signs of the challenges of integrating 5 freshmen into the roster. 6'10" Neil McDonald and 6'3" Garry Gallimore have been solid but 6'2" Tyler Richards has been inconsistent from the perimeter lately and Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw, while spectacular in spurts and destined to be a great one, sometimes still shows he is only a freshman. Prior to Saturday afternoon's convincing win against Dal at the Halifax Metro Centre, the X-Men had lost 3 of their last 4 including a home loss to St.Mary's which was in turn defeated at home Saturday against last-place UNB. X is 1-2 in games against Top 10 teams (all against Cape Breton) however they did have a pre-season win against York, a team on the verge of a Top 10 ranking. X still has three games remaining against the two teams ahead of them in the standings: Cape Breton twice including in 10 days at home as well as one more trip to Acadia. The top 2 teams avoid having to play on the Friday night of the AUS Final 6 tournament and would need only one win in the semi-finals of that tournament to qualify for the Nationals.

#10 Toronto (10-6 in OUA, 15-8 vs. CIS overall): THIS WEEK: Won at Queen's 59-44 and at RMC 84-52. UPDATE: Riding a six game winning streak that easily could be eight save for a pair of close losses in the Nation's Capital, the Varsity Blues, arguably Canada's top overall defensive team since the holidays, are red hot. Of their six league losses, 5 were by a combined margin of 9 points including games against Ottawa, Carleton and Windsor that came down to the final possession. Losses to Waterloo, Guelph and Western by 14 before the holidays hurt but with wins against Queen's (twice), Brock, Alberta and York, four other teams considered for Top 10 ranking, putting the Blues in this spot is more than justified. The Blues are 0-5 against teams in this weeks Top 10 however have a chance to improve on that record this weekend as they host #6 Ottawa on Friday and #4 Carleton on Saturday.


sager said...

Right now my mind's on that wild-card berth to the Final 8... the OUA East is a great division... Carleton's lost to York and Ottawa, both those teams have lost to Queen's, and but for some bad luck at the foul line the U of T Varsity Blues could make the same claim.

Now here's the question: Does that mean that wild-card berth will go to an OUA East team? Carleton got it last year after York beat them in the division final, and the division's already getting a host berth for the next three years, so the politics might line up against sending another OUA East team.

Great work as always, Mark!

Mark Wacyk said...

I will be making my predictions for the 8th spot at the Nationals (the only wild card available) in future posts. However, for clarification, for the past 2 seasons in a 10 team Final 10, all spots were pre-determined (2 AUS, 1 Quebec, 2 OUA East, 2 OUA West, 3 Canada West). With the return to 8 teams at the Nationals, the following format holds & will hold for the next 4 seasons including this one:

7 automatic qualifiers:
2 AUS (AUS tournament winner + host entry); 1 Quebec (QSSF playoff winner); 1 OUA East (playoff winner); 1 OUA West (playoff winner); 2 Canada West (Final Four semi-final winners)

1 "wild card" entry: selected by a committee of coaches.

This season there are plenty of candidates for the wild card and conferences that had legitimate chances to represent a wild card include OUA East, Canada West and AUS. Speculation on which teams are legitimate contenders is premature currently but in the coming weeks the debate will no doubt rage.

By the way, from my understanding, the same format holds for the Nationals 2008 through 2010 in Ottawa with Carleton automatically getting the host bid as per their approved application to the CIS.

Chad said...

This is probably my east-coast bias kicking in, but I don't think it's fair to assume at this point that an OUA East team deserves the wild card.

Right now in the AUS, St. F.X. and Cape Breton are both top-10 teams and Acadia looks like a legit contender (we'll see if that's still true after they play the Capers three times in the next two weeks).

I'm sure it would cause a national uproar to send three Atlantic teams to the Final 8, but one of those three isn't going to earn a guaranteed berth and, barring a terrible finish, will at least merit consideration for a wild card.

Thank goodness the wild card is back, so we can all argue about whose conference is tougher and/or complain about how our conference got screwed!