One new entrant into the Top 10 (Alberta) which immediately gets an opportunity to justify their fresh position at #9 this coming weekend at #4 Saskatchewan. We've slanted our bias to teams that have been stronger recently including #3 Cape Breton (one loss in 16 games), #6 Lakehead (7-1 vs. OUA West) and the aforementioned Golden Bears.
#1 Carleton (24-0, 17-0) (LW: #1) Three more victories including a come-from-behind win over cross-town rival uOttawa Gee-Gees in the Capital Hoops Classic plus a dominant performance that likely put the final nail in the coffin of Queen's playoff hopes keeps the undefeated Ravens in the top spot. Carleton finishes the regular season with 5 consecutive road games including travelling to Sudbury to face Laurentian and also to North York to face York Lions this coming weekend. A rematch with U of T Varsity Blues and Ryerson in Toronto also loom and then the rematch at uOttawa to cap the regular season.
#2 UBC (19-2, 16-2) (LW: #2) Idle this past weekend but have a pair of tough ones at Regina this coming weekend where the veteran Cougars have been tough and have all but clinched a playoff spot. After hosting Thompson Rivers, Birds finish their regular season at arch-rival Victoria for a pair of games. UBC can afford one loss in their final 6 games and still finish first but 2 losses would likely mean second.
#3 Cape Breton (15-6, 14-1) (LW: #5) Winners of seven in a row and 15 of their past 16 games overall after starting 0-5 on the road, Capers are the hottest team in Canada this side of Carleton. Athletic and aggressive, Capers have already all but locked up the #1 seed at the AUS tournament at the Halifax Metro Center in March. This weekend's pair of games at Saint Mary's at the Tower in Halifax present the only real opportunity for a slip up that would only slightly open the window for either X or Dal to threaten.
#4 Saskatchewan (21-4, 14-4) (LW: #4) Followed up Friday's decisive loss to then-#3 Trinity Western with a gutsy come-from-behind effort on Saturday when their pair of veteran guards took over in the second half. Friday's shellacking showed how vulnerable the Huskies can be when one or both of their guards are in foul trouble or injured. Still, Saskatchewan played UBC and TWU even over 4 games, all played away from home and gets the nod over TWU in my opinion for the comeback win on the road. Huskies have another tough encounter this coming weekend, hosting Alberta Golden Bears, newly elevated into the Top 10, for a pair at home in Saskatoon.
#5 Trinity Western (18-3, 17-3) (LW: #3) Had a chance to put pressure on UBC to win out to finish first but could not contain Sask's guard tandem. In the end, Spartans got their four most important and difficult games of the season (UBC and Saskatchewan) at home and could only go 1-3, necessitating this drop to fifth from third. Still, TWU has a chance to finish first if they win out and UBC loses a pair. Spartans finish their home schedule this weekend against Brandon before travelling to Winnipeg to face the improved and likely-playoff-bound Manitoba Bisons.
#6 Lakehead (18-9, 13-3) (LW: #8) Winners of 7 of their last 8 games and coming off a sweep of then-#7 Windsor, the Thunderwolves have gained a strangle hold on first place in the OUA West with pairs of games remaining at Waterloo, home to Brock and at Western, all teams fighting for a playoff spot. The Wolves are beginning to recapture their formula that resulted in last season's Nationals appearance: fourth quarter magic with lock-down "d" and dead-eye three point shooting. This is a deep group with several weapons and only a lack of size could be viewed as a possible weakness going forward.
#7 St. FX (21-5, 104) (LW: #6) A disappointing road loss against a hungry and tenacious UNB team on Sunday necessitated the drop in ranking. X-Men are fighting some injuries presently that has affected their depth and possibly not allowed Coach Steve Konchalski to be as aggressive defensively as he might like. X's inside game offensively led by 6'9" Alberto Rodriquez has been inconsistent and the lack of double downs has made things more difficult for folks like 5'10" Christian T-Bear Upshaw from the perimeter. X-Men look to take control of second place in the AUS as they travel to Halifax to meet third-place Dalhousie on Saturday.
#8 Windsor (13-7, 11-5) (LW: #7) The Lancers have been reeling with losses in 4 of their last 6 games including 3 in a row - 2 coming this past weekend in the first place showdown at Lakehead. However, 5 of the 6 games were away from the St. Denis Center, where Windsor plays 5 of their final six games including Saturday's first of two against Laurier Golden Hawks, their only competitor for second place and a first-round playoff bye. Prior to that Windsor must host pesky Guelph, which has been one of the better defending teams in the division and usually plays the Lancers very tough. 6'3" Isaac Kuon has hit a shooting/scoring slump during the Lancers skid but 6'2" sophomore Enrico DeLoretto had a pair of strong offensive performances at Lakehead over the weekend.
#9 Alberta (15-7, 14-6) (LW: NR) Winners of 5 in a row and 7 of their past 8, the young Bears are witnessing the rapid maturation of 6'8" Jordan Baker as a legitimate go-to leader in this only his second season. With 6'4" Daniel Ferguson knocking shots down and the athletic depth Alberta possesses, Bears could be a sleeper team in Canada West although lack of a true point guard who can defend the ball and create in the half court may be the one piece required. Bears get a chance to splash onto the national stage with a pair of games at Saskatchewan on the road this weekend.
#10 Laval (14-6, 8-2) (LW: #10) Laval continues to lead the QUBL and defeated a solid and improving McGill Redmen team by 6 in Ste. Foy on Friday night. The teams meet again on Friday in Montreal in a return engagement. 6'6" Etienne Labrecque has emerged as a third solid go-to force in Laval's offense.
Next CIS action goes Wednesday with one AUS games, Dalhousie at Acadia (Tigers have won both meetings this season including a league win at home in November) and three OUA West games including McMaster at Laurier (Mac won the first meeting), Guelph at Windsor (first of two meetings) and Brock at Western (Badgers won by 19 at home in January in the first meeting).