Monday, 7 January 2008

CISHOOPS.CA First Top Ten of 2008

In what is probably the most challenging Top 10 vote of the season, there are numerous scenarios that I've thought through to make an educated guess at this week's Top 10; and "guess" isn't too far from reality, although some science went into the rankings as well (see below). To come up with this week's Top 10, I went conference-by-conference to select the teams that I felt intuitively should be considered and then ranked those teams. The challenges were numerous because of latest game results balanced against the body of work for the entire season although recent streaks are weighted more heavily (e.g. CBU has won 9 of their last 10 while Western is only 6-5 in last 11). Overall records including number of losses overall continues to play a large part in my thinking for better or for worse as does the Cheers RPI that can be found on Bob Adams' site; so for instance a team like Brock that had such a solid holiday season and did very well at home before the holidays against Ottawa and Carleton still has an overall record of just 10-10 and is 16th in the RPI. Western is another team that has been solid after the first half but is only 11-7 and #19 in the RPI. Another significant element in my thinking is quality road wins - in my thinking road wins are more valuable than a home wins and my rankings reflect that. So, the teams I considered for this week's Top 10 were:

Canada West: UBC, Calgary, Brandon, Alberta
Also thought about but passed: Victoria (overall record & lost at TWU this week)
OUA West: Guelph, Western
Also thought about but passed: Brock (.500 record; no signature road win, although wins vs. Brandon and Calgary are very difficult to ignore)
OUA East: Carleton, Ottawa, Toronto
No one else considered
Quebec: Concordia
Also thought about but passed: Laval (defeated Concordia recently but 10-8 record, #25 RPI rating and loss to 3-17 York hurt them)
AUS: Cape Breton, St. FX, Acadia
Also thought about but passed: St. Mary's (just lost to Acadia at home and are only 7-5 in their last 12 games with losses to Cape Breton (twice), Acadia, X, Ottawa, #11 RPI - still, a tough team to not strongly consider)

So, the following 13 teams were given strong consideration for Top 10 spot:
UBC, Calgary, Brandon, Alberta, Guelph, Western, Carleton, Ottawa, Toronto, Concordia, Cape Breton, St. FX, Acadia and here is my Top 10:

#1 Carleton (16-0, 10-0) easiest pick
#2 UBC (12-2, 10-2) percolated up the rankings by not playing but are still deserving with only 2 losses all season long
#3 Calgary (14-4, 10-2) won a big road game at Alberta; soundly defeated then #2 Acadia at Wesmen Classic; tight loss to Brock in which they came back late hurt but they are still ranked #2 in the RPI.
#4 Ottawa (15-4, 9-1)) recent wins at Guelph and on neutral courts against St.Mary's and Concordia offset by losses to X and at Brock. Gee-Gees, #4 in the RPI, have won 10 of their last 12 games and have gone 4-1 without starter Donnie Gibson.
#5 Guelph (12-4, 7-2) had a signature road win at Windsor, the Lancers first home loss of the season and only 3rd in last 2+ years, have taken unanimous #1 Carleton near the wire in both games, other solid road win at Queen's and win at home over Cape Breton; #7 in RPI.
#6 Cape Breton (14-4, 8-1) Have won 9 of their last 10 after a 3 game losing streak when Paul Blake and Phil Nkrumah were both hurt; only loss was to X which they avenged at X the next night; also 2 wins against St. Mary's, the second decisive during the streak; #10 in RPI.
#7 Toronto (17-5, 8-2) Nice road win at Queen's this weekend helped offset second loss to Western; 6-3 in last 9 including road win at Brock and home win vs. Windsor; October win vs. Calgary also helps; #5 in RPI.
#8 St. FX (15-6, 7-2) have won 11 of 13 since their second trip to Ontario in October including Shoveller final win vs. Ottawa plus league win at Cape Breton and non-league win vs. St. Mary's; one solid road win at Cape Breton was quickly offset however with a loss in the return match in Antigonish.
#9 Concordia (10-4, 4-2) Maybe the most precarious top 10 pick since recent results have been less than stellar; loss to Ottawa in overtime showed they can play when healthy and only one real road win at Queen's of note. They need to keep winning to remain.
#10 Brandon (16-5, 11-1) Winners of 7 of 9 and 12 out of 15, Cats did trip up at Wesmen Classic, losing to Brock and Acadia but recovered nicely over the weekend. This spot came down to the Cats or Acadia and although Acadia did defeat Brandon head-to-head on a neutral court, Acadia's loss to Manitoba (4-15, 1-11, #38 RPI) hurt the Axemen.

Others Considered:
Acadia (13-4, 7-1) In addition to recent Manitoba loss, 0-1 vs. Top 10 (loss to Calgary in which they were down 37-17 early), hurt the Axemen; although big road win at St. Mary's helps; #12 RPI
Alberta (13-5, 8-4) lost 3 of 4 to Calgary including at home this week, 4 losses in league play thus far; need that signature road win that they currently can't point to; RPI disagrees, ranking them #3
Western (11-7, 4-5) although they've won 4 in a row, they are just 6-5 in their last 11, are below .500 in league play including recent loss to Ryerson hurts although pair of solid wins at Toronto including road win and home win vs. Brock are very difficult to ignore; #19 RPI

Your thoughts are encouraged...


Chad said...

The X-Men haven't beaten Saint Mary's in league play. The Huskies downed St. F.X. 86-70 in Halifax just before the semester break in their only conference game so far, though X did beat SMU at their own tournament at the beginning of November.

Personally I wouldn't rate X above Acadia at this point, but the AUS is such a huge toss-up that if you asked five people you'd probably get five different opinions. Any one of those top four squads (SMU included) is potentially a top-10 team and capable of winning the conference championship.

Anonymous said...

Alberta continues to get little respect despite having an extremely tough schedule. In 5 losses, 3 are to Calgary, 1 to Saskatchewan and one to Carleton.Brandon has yet to beat a ranked team. Alberta beat Brandon and Ottawa. What's up??

Mark Wacyk said...

Please don't take the fact that I don't have Alberta in the current Top 10 as a lack of respect for the program. The Bears are a definite contender for the Canada West championship however they've put themselves in a position where they will probably have to win big games on the road to get to the Canada West Final Four which they have yet to show they can do this season (although they did beat Vic at Vic in October while the Vikes were mired in a long losing streak). Also, they are just 5-4 in their last 9 games with 2 home losses to Calgary and Saskatchewan. Also, both losses at Calgary could be termed blowouts. The Brandon win came after the Bobcats had to do probably the most greuling trip in Canada West overnight from Regina to Edmonton and the wins over Ottawa and earlier to Brandon were in October. Alberta could easily be a Top 10 team because they are very well coached and have a talented roster but right now my opinion is that they are slightly outside of a Top 10 ranking. Bears will be heard from before the season is out.