Sunday, 8 March 2009

Final 8 Seeding

Somewhat perplexing may be understating how many are viewing Sunday's announcement by the CIS of the Final 8 seedings and schedule. For Calgary and UBC, assuming both are able to get through their tough first round matchups, this dumbfounding bracket sets up a potential Saturday night semi-final meeting, in what would be the third meeting of the season between the two CW powers just 2 weeks after the teams met in the Canada West championship, only this time 2 and 3 time zones away from home. One can also forgive Western Coach Brad Campbell and Ottawa Head Coach Dave DeAveiro for lamenting their draws. For either to qualify for Sunday's championship game, their teams likely must defeat at least one and probably two teams from their conference. To add insult to injury, the committee placed three OUA teams on the same side of the draw, ensuring all 3 teams play in the night cap on Friday's opening day. Tournament organizers, encouraged by uOttawa's victory on Saturday ensuring two local teams at the event, now will see both those local teams play back-to-back instead of one in the Friday afternoon session and the other in the evening session. It is ironic that the committee seeding the 8 teams involved in this past weekend's CIS women's Nationals kept all four Canada West participants seperated from each other in the first round and that on the men's side the ranking committee, made up of coaching representatives from each of the four conferences across the country, did not have the wisdom to seperate teams in the same manner - a manner many feel would be more fan-friendly and make the tournament a true gauge of conference strength across the country. This season's short-sighted format punishes the two top notch Canada West teams looking to end their conferences recent struggles at the Nationals - since Alberta last brought the CIS championship banner west in 2002, CW teams are a combined 7-15 in championship bracket play including 0-5 in six years for UBC. CW dreams of a UBC/Calgary final and the conference strength bragging rights that would naturally come with that game are unfortunately not possible. In what is the latest in series of decisions that seem to put fans and the marketing of the game we love in the background, the potential for six very intriguing quarter and semi-final matchups that would require coaches to prepare for new teams, players to get a taste of different, championship-level play from around the country and fans to watch contrasting styles of play with some mystery around how things might shape up is greatly diminished. For what it's worth, here's how I would have set the brackets up with a view of limiting the possibility of conference rivals to play each other for as long as possible into the tournament.

#1 Carleton
#2 Calgary (CW champs beat then #2 UBC in their gym)
#3 Ottawa (Ottawa jumps over UBC because they lost on the road to #1 team while UBC lost at home to a team ranked lower; also because it keeps Calg/UBC and Ott/West/Carleton seperate for as long as possible)
#4 UBC (4th drops them 2 places from previous rankings after losing at home in the CW championship to play OUA runner up instead of AUS champ)
#5 Western (lost at home to OUA champion decisively; Ott also lost decisively but played Carleton tough at home; negatives for this include Western's 20 pt. win over Ottawa in November; but in the end, it negates an all-OUA first round matchup)
#6 Concordia (Quebec league champ)
#7 Dal (ahead of X because they've won the past 2 games vs. X head-to-head including once in Antigonish)
#8 X (wild card)

this would have set up following potential semi-finals:

Carleton/X winner vs. UBC/Western winner
Ottawa/Concordia winner vs. Dal/Calgary winner.

The committee may prove to have done things correctly but even if they correctly picked the semi-finalists with their seedings (all-OUA in one and all CW in the other according to their top 4), I still believe the tournament has suffered with their careless selections.

Here is Neate Sager's view of the bracket CIS Blog Bracket Analysis


Jason said...

Great to read your thoughts again, Mark! I agree that the seedings are perplexing, to say the least.

andrewt said...

Before passing judgment on how poorly the seeding committee performed their job it would be really useful to know what criteria and guidelines they are required to follow. I agree that the match-ups are not very interesting. That has been more than sufficiently covered in the last few days but is the job of the committee to create interesting match-ups or seed the teams from strongest to weakest?