Monday, 9 March 2009

Ottawa Citizen Article on Nationals Brackets

Draw places Ottawa teams in rerun of playoffs

By Wayne Kondro, The Ottawa Citizen March 9, 2009

National championships typically pit region against region, allowing the various conferences to see how they stack up against one another.

It also has the added benefit, particularly in opening rounds, of avoiding situations in which teams that have played each all season don't have to do it again at nationals unless they both make it to the final.

That's the general rule, except, of course, for Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the men's basketball championship, which commences Friday at Scotiabank Place.

On Sunday, the CIS men's basketball seeding committee placed all three Ontario University Athletics representatives on the same side of the bracket, while the other side of the draw includes the two Canada West representatives.

As expected, the Carleton Ravens, the OUA champions, were seeded No. 1, meaning they will face Atlantic University Sport runner-up and wildcard selection St. Francis Xavier in a quarterfinal.

The winner of that game will face the survivor of an all-OUA quarterfinal between the fourth-seeded Western Ontario Mustangs and the fifth-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees.

On the other half of the bracket, second-seeded Canada West champion Calgary will face No. 7 Quebec champ Concordia, while No. 3 British Columbia, the Canada West runner-up, faces sixth-seeded Atlantic champion Dalhousie.

The draw also marked the third consecutive occasion in which the seeding committee has placed Carleton and Ottawa on the same side of the bracket. They met in a CIS quarterfinal in 2005 and in a semifinal in 2007, both at Halifax, with the Ravens winning both times.

Gee-Gees coach David DeAveiro, whose squad was third in the most recent CIS rankings and has a glittering 21-4 regular-season and playoff record, with three of those losses against Carleton, was flabbergasted.

"It's frustrating. The three times we've been to nationals, we've been on the same side as Carleton," he said. "And I don't understand how all three teams from Ontario are on the same side. We've been playing each other all year and now we have to do it again. I don't understand how the decision came about, but it is what it is. You've got to beat everybody to win, anyways."

Ravens coach Dave Smart called the draw a surprising rerun of the conference playoffs. "It's unfortunate because we basically have just played that tournament the last week," he said.

National Association of Basketball Coaches of Canada President James Hillis, a non-voting member of the committee, said voting members Mike Katz of Toronto, Craig Norman of McGill, Ross Quackenbush of Saint Mary's and Mike Connelly of Lethbridge felt "other factors" were more important than avoiding intra-conference matchups.

CIS seeding rules state that early-round games between teams from the same conference should be avoided where possible, but that should only be done "without affecting the integrity of the seeds," Hillis said. "We can't make decisions based strictly on marketing or any of those kinds of external things."

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