Monday, 11 February 2008

Down the Stretch in the AUS

Although the six participants at the AUS tournament are basically set with 2 weeks to go in the regular season (although UNB still has an outside shot at UPEI for sixth), the seedings are far from a done deal as any of four teams still has an opportunity to finish with one of the two first-round byes at the tournament. However, this tournament is usually wide-open and first round byes can be deceiving as both #1 Cape Breton and #2 St. FX found out last season when they lost to St. Mary's and Acadia, who had played in the quarter-final round the night prior. Still, all things being equal, getting that first night off and being only 2 wins away from an automatic bid to the Nationals is an appealing position to be in, so finishing 1-2 is key. Although not currently in first place, Acadia has the most favorable schedule and first place is the Axemen's for the taking. With the AUS playing an unbalanced schedule, Acadia gets 4 games against #7 UNB, #6 UPEI and #5 Dal and only 2 games against #1 CBU, #3 SMU, #4 X and #8 MUN. Four-point games do attempt to even this out somewhat but the Axemen have feasted on teams in their division, going 11-0 (4-0 vs. Dal and UNB, 3-0 vs. UPEI with one game remaining). Acadia is 1-1 vs. CBU & SMU and 1-0 vs. X, who they meet this week at home. Overall, Acadia has 32 points, 6 behind Cape Breton however the Axemen have the possibility of earning 14 more points, including a pair of four point games at Memorial. Acadia also gets UPEI and St. FX at home, with the X game being a four pointer, this coming Tuesday night in Wolfville. If Acadia can beat X, their three remaining games are more than winnable and it would put Acadia at 48 points. The most points CBU can get is 46 points and their final 3 games are against St. FX and twice at Saint Mary's. Look for the Axemen to lock up the first seed in the AUS tournament with the possibility of it becoming official as early as this coming weekend; that said, however, if St.FX wins out, they will grab the top seed. The real battle may come down to CBU and St. FX for the second seed and the teams meet this Friday in Sydney. Prior to that X has a big 4 point game at Acadia on Tuesday. If X can win both games this week, they will be in the driver's seat not only for a bye but the top seed as they then finish with a 4 point game at home against Dal and then a pair of two point games at Memorial. Cape Breton has only 3 games remaining including a pair at Saint Mary's on the final two days of the regular season. Saint Mary's is still in the hunt for a bye however they have the most work to do and will need help from others. More than likely they will need to sweep Cape Breton and hope X loses both games this week at Acadia and at CBU to get second place and a bye. Dalhousie is solidly in fifth spot and will meet whoever finishes fourth in one of two Friday night quarter-finals at the Halifax Metro Center in three weeks. UPEI has a stranglehold on the sixth and final playoff spot although a sweep this week by the Varsity Reds at home will propel UNB to within 2 points of UPEI and the Reds will have two games remaining at Dal. UPEI swept two games from UNB in November with a combined margin of 34 points, so UNB would be well served to not only sweep the Panthers but also win by a combined 35 points or more to own the tiebreaker. If the Reds win out and UPEI loses all 3, UNB is the sixth seed. Memorial was eliminated long ago.

Cape Breton 14-3 40 pts. MAX. PTS = 46 (St.FX (2), at SMU (2 games @ 2 pts. each)
Acadia 14-2 34 pts. MAX. PTS. = 48 (St. FX (4), at MUN (2 games @ 4 pts. each, PEI (2))
StFX 11-4 32 pts. MAX PTS. = 46 (at Acadia (4), at CBU (2), Dal (4), at MUN (2 @ 2 each)
Saint Mary's 10-6 32 pts. MAX PTS. = 42 (MUN (2), DAL (4), CBU (2 @ 2 pts. each))
Dalhousie 8-8 22 pts. MAX PTS. = 34 (at SMU (4), at X (4), UNB (2 @ 2 pts. each))
UPEI 5-12 14 pts. MAX PTS. = 20 (at UNB (2 @ 2 pts. each), at Acadia (2))
UNB 2-14 8 pts. MAX. PTS. = 16 (UPEI (2 @ 2 pts. each), at Dal (2 @ 2 pts. each))
Memorial 0-15 0 pts.

Key Games this week:
Tuesday night: St. FX at Acadia (4 point game)
Thursday night: Dal at SMU (4 point game)
Friday night: St. FX at Cape Breton (2 point game)

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