Monday, March 10, 2014

Women's basketball: Final 8 odds

Same format as the men's:

      Semi Final Champ
1 WSR  94.5   83.7   56.2 
2 SMU  74.4   63.1   31.2 
7 ALB  25.6   17.0    4.7
3 SSK  82.5   18.9    3.9 
4 MCG  59.7    9.7    2.6
5 UFV  40.3    4.9    1.0 
8 WLU   5.5    1.7    0.2 
6 QUE  17.5    1.1    0.1 

The playoff results in Canada West, where Alberta finished third behind Saskatchewan and Fraser Valley, require the strange scenario of a 7 seed being third-most likely to win, and the 2 seed having with a tougher matchup in Round 1 than in Round 2.

Some may give Laurier half of the home bonus, being relatively close to the site of the tournament, but they are treated the same as any non-Windsor team here.

The quarterfinal matchups, viewable at, are:

Fri Mar 14
1:00pm ET - (7) Alberta vs. (2) SMU (predicted score: SMU 68-63)
3:00pm ET - (6) Queen's vs. (3) Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan 66-56)
6:00pm ET - (8) Laurier at (1) Windsor (Windsor 80-48)
8:00pm ET - (5) UFV vs. (4) McGill (McGill 59-55)
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Men's basketball: Final 8 tournament odds and quarterfinal previews

We'll start with the tournament odds, in the same format as, once again:

      Semi Final Champ
2 CAR  96.8   80.8   71.3 
1 OTT  84.2   64.6   13.9 
3 ALB  94.8   18.6   11.7 
4 VIC  78.9   26.2    2.6 
8 SSK  15.8    6.4    0.4
7 MAC   3.2    0.5    0.1 
5 MCG  21.1    2.8    0.1 
6 SMU   5.3    0.1    0.0 

Hard not to call this a runaway for Carleton, last Saturday's result notwithstanding. It's also almost like they designed this bracket to dispatch the bottom four teams as quickly as possible, giving the 4 seed the second-easiest opponent and all but guaranteeing us Carleton-Alberta and Ottawa-Victoria semifinals.

The rule about conference winners in the top 6 doesn't really matter in this tournament because the seedings generally don't matter as much as who's on your side of the bracket. (Picture the Elite Eight in the NCAA, and ask yourself the last time it mattered what number was next to a team's name at that point.) Suppose we swapped Carleton with McGill, something that nobody would ever do. McGill's odds of winning the tournament go from 0.1% to ... 0.1%. Odds of reaching the final go from 2.8% to 3.8%. Or how about swapping SMU and Mac? That would give Mac a better chance at a first-round win, sure, but nothing else. So someone being 6 vs. 8 or 1 vs. 2 is not hugely important here.

And as for the games themselves, here are the predicted scores and a summary for each matchup (* denotes top-50 players in our preliminary player rankings):

(3) Alberta vs. (6) Saint Mary's, 12:30pm EST
Alberta 85, SMU 72 (95%)
Alberta starters: Youssef Ouahrig, Sahr Saffa, Joel Friesen, Todd Bergen-Henengouwen, Jordan Baker*
SMU starters: Boyd Vassell*, Brian Rouse, Theon Reefer*, Riley Halpin, Harry Ezenibe

Not quite "the McMuffin Classic" game for Barnaby Craddock this time around, but a 10:30am MT tipoff seems odd, especially when the other team is coming from Halifax.

SMU averaged ten possessions more per game than Alberta did this year, easily the biggest gap in pace of play among any of the matchups here. AUS play is known for a high pace almost throughout the league, but with a likely path of Alberta and Carleton here, the east Huskies will not just run into a much more difficult opponent than they've faced, but a very different type of game as well. They're either a team who peaked late or a team that got lucky in two games (you can guess which one they think they are). Supporters will point to the close game they played with Carleton; detractors will say that they needed OT to beat Regina (33rd in SRS) and lost to Brock (44th) three weeks later.

Also look for Kenneth Otieno off the bench for the U of A; he averages 25 MPG and is the other top-50 Golden Bear in this game along with Baker.

(2) Carleton vs. (7) McMaster, 2:30pm EST
Carleton 90, McMaster 66 (97%)
Carleton starters: Philip Scrubb*, Clinton Springer-Williams*, Thomas Scrubb*, Tyson Hinz*, Kevin Churchill*
McMaster starters: Aaron Redpath*, Joe Rocca*, Rohan Boney, Taylor Black*, Nathan McCarthy

The Ravens have six of the top 50; the sixth, Victor Raso, is not unknown to his opponents.

It's the Best Carleton Team EverTM but also one that has had at least four close calls this year, and three of those teams are here. At McMaster in November, they needed to run an episode of The Phil Scrubb Show when the originally-scheduled beatdown was cancelled. If this game is half as entertaining as that game was, it'll be about the best you can expect from a Carleton quarterfinal.

(4) Victoria vs. (5) McGill, 5:30pm EST
Victoria 72, McGill 66 (79%)
Victoria starters: Marcus Tibbs, Kyle Peterson, Reiner Theil, Terrell Evans*, Chris McLaughlin*
McGill starters: Simon Bibeau, Vincent Dufort, Dele Ogundokun, Michael Peterkin, Francois Bourque

Yes, the winner in this one is predicted to score just 72 points, compared to 85, 90, and 91 in the others. No, the Redmen don't have any top-50 players (nothing against M. Bibeau). Yes, I'm also interested to see how a lineup of five players all between 6-2 and 6-5 can go up against that UVic frontcourt.

(1) Ottawa vs. (8) Saskatchewan, 8:00pm EST
Ottawa 91, Saskatchewan 75 (84%)
Ottawa starters: Mike L'Africain, Johnny Berhanemeskel*, Terry Thomas*, Caleb Agada, Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue
Saskatchewan: Stephon Lamar*, Andrew Henry, Dadrian Collins, Ben Baker, Matt Forbes

Probably the most entertaining game. Not that close, but very high-scoring: these teams are 2nd and 5th nationwide in per-possession scoring, but only 17th and 22nd in per-possession defence. The Huskies apparently "weren’t necessarily planning on going" before they got the call as the wildcard team. Barry Rawlyk likes being on the opposite side of the bracket from Carleton, Alberta, and McMaster. Wouldn't you?
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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Basketball: Ottawa goes to Final 8 as Wilson Cup champs; Johnny Berhanemeskel's last-second fadeaway seals 78-77 win, ends Carleton's 55-game CIS win streak

TORONTO — The best part was how one didn't see it coming, thought maybe Johnny Berhanemeskel and Terry Thomas and the Ottawa Gee-Gees had let Carleton get away again.

Someone with a more mathematical bent might have to figure what the odds are that a Carleton Ravens team would ever cough up a 10-point lead with 3½ minutes to play. Yet it happened, since these Gees close out opponents' possessions better than any garnet-and-grey gang in recent memory and also finish with flair. Score, get a stop, score and get a stop — "to be honest, it's all a blur" — coach James Derouin said — and suddenly Ottawa had a chance to win, down one with 6.8 seconds left.

That's when, fittingly, Berhanemeskel, making up for an air-balled three a minute earlier, put up the fadeaway while being fouled, over Clinton Springer-Williams, with 0.5 seconds left. That gave Ottawa not only the Wilson Cup, but its first win over the colossus that is Carleton since 2007.

"They switched the ball screens and he still got it up over three people on the fadeaway," said Ottawa coach James Derouin, whose team is 36-2 in CIS play this season, with both losses against you-know-who. "Johnny's an incredible kid, he's an incredible player. There's no better guy to hit that shot.

"Some of these guys have played four years here and never beat 'em, You can imagine what that is like in Ottawa. 'How did you against Carleton?' 'We're 32-3.' 'But how did you do against Carleton?' For these guys, it's pretty special to tell them we beat 'em in an OUA final."

Berhanemeskel finished with 30 points on 13-of-28 shooting. Terry Thomas chipped in 17 and nine rebounds for Ottawa, while glue guy extraordinaire Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue's 12 points including two tough buckets during the game-ending 13-2 run. Tyson Hinz had a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double for Carleton (30-1 in CIS play). THomas Scrubb hadded 21, while Philip Scrubb, facing a rotating cast of defenders such as Caleb Agada and Mehdi Tihani, had 13 points on a 3-of-12 night and six turnovers
Ottawa, which lost by more than 20 in both regular season games vs. Carleton, talked about merely wanting to give the Ravens their best game. They've said that so many times and been unable to summon it, yet on Saturday, albeit by the slimmest margin, they rose to the level demanded of a team that shares a city with a

"It's honestly one of the biggest motivators you can have, it makes you wake up every day wanting to watch tape, wanting to get in the gym, wanting to lift weights," Berhanemeskel said. "Obviously we would have wanted to win games against them earlier, but I wouldn't change the last four years for anything. It's made me the person I am today and made our team what it is today. Our culture is definitely evolving.
"We didn't want to lose the game just because of a couple missed shots or some foul calls.

Carleton lost the Wilson Cup in 2007 and '11 after its Final 8 ticket was already purchased, so who knows what this will mean. Ottawa has the OUA banner but Carleton took the season series 2-1 with a plus-44 point differential. But the wins were on Nov. 29 and Jan. 22, not on March 1.

"That was a wake-up call [against Lakehead in 2011], this one, I think it is what it is," said Smart, whose program is 129-3 vs. CIS teams during the Scrubb era. "They're a good team, they're better than us.

"The seeds are the seeds," Smart added. "They just beat us, so if they get the No. 1 seed, it's not going to upset me. We have the body of work — maybe — but if you put either one of us No. 1, I don't think it's going to upset either one of us. I think they're a great team. They're awesome."

Carleton was out in front from the mid-second quarter onward, save for a brief spurt in the third when Ottawa took a 46-45 edge that lasted all of one possession. The Ravens shot an effective 50 per cent for the night (25-for-59, including 9-for-21 on threes), but Ottawa's ball movement (a mere nine turnovers) and acumen with earning extra shots kept it in contact. Nevertheless, some open looks that wouldn't go down created the impression Ottawa might have to be satisfied with merely having played well without getting the result.

"You just keep trying to forget the losses, whether it was 12 or 13 in a row," Derouin said. "I just didn't feel like we played well the last two times that we played. I thought we were competing all game today and it went back and forth and we had a shot to win it at the end."

A Gee-Gees team often believed to be leaky defensively because its high pace factor often means it plays in the 80s also turned up the pressure in the fourth, with Gonthier-Dubue and Agada closing off lanes. Carleton scored only once in the final four minutes, on a hard drive by Hinz with 6.8 seconds left. That was when Ottawa showed if a team gets enough chances, eventually it will make good on one.

"Experience is the best teacher," said Berhanemeskel, the fourth-year shooting guard and grad of Lester B. Pearson in Gloucester. "The guys who have got us here, [former star] Warren [Ward], the fans and family who have got us here, we're here because of them and we're sharing this moment from them, from the beginning.

"It's just indescribable right now. All I can do is just laugh and get ready to play next weekend and share the moment with these guys."

Right, there is still the Final 8. It was almost easy to overlook that while seeing Ottawa cut down the nets at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
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Basketball: McMaster punches ticket for CIS Final 8, first appearance since 2006

TORONTO — In what could be the final game for the trio with the most regular season wins in Windsor Lancers history, Enrico Diloreto, Josh Collins and Lien Phillip faltered.

McMaster prevailed 93-89 behind a late fourth-quarter and overtime rally in the OUA Bronze medal match, and the three fifth-years on Windsor combined for 20 turnovers.

Diloreto shot 2-9 and the Collins-Phillip duo both shot 5-14.

Windsor owned a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but Mac would slowly chip away at the lead. Like last night, the marauders did not have production from their main offensive weapons – Taylor Black and Joe Rocca. Black shot 2-11 and Rocca only shot 2-4.

Mac’s Trevon McNeil made a three with 13 seconds remaining, putting McMaster up 81-79. Collins got fouled with .7 and cashed in two free throws to send it to OT.

Adam Presutti nailed two threes and hit a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to put McMaster up four and put the final result at 93-89.

It was the play of Leon Alexander on Phillip that was the game-changer. Alexander, a transfer from a United States junior college, is listed at six-foot-five but was able to bother the six-foot-11 Phillip and force ten turnovers and 5-14 shooting night.

Lancers coach was disappointed with the team’s performance, pointing to missed free throws (20-32) and turnovers as the issues.

“You pretty much do it to yourself sometimes. Full credit to Mac, they played well enough to win the game,” said Oliver. “That was not our best effort and this team is good enough to be at Nationals. There’s a lot of disappointment in that locker room.”

For Mac, it was a goal realized. Making it to the CIS Final 8 has been the repeated and seldom goal of the Marauders, and with the victory, they book a spot at the tournament. McMaster was the most local school in the Final Four and was well supported. Head coach Amos Connolly immediately praised the fans post-game.

“It was nice to have those people there and their support, especially after yesterday,” said Connolly. The Maroon and Grey had to battle numerous times, after being down seven at half, a bizarre non-time-out that was turned into a media time-out, and the foul with .7 seconds left where Collins tied the game.

Rookie Trevon McNeil has been outstanding all weekend. He led the team in minutes against Windsor, logging 35 in the OT affair. McNeil also dropped a game-high 23 points on 7-13 shooting.

Moving forward, the Lancers are an outside shot to make the CIS Final 8. Rotimi Osuntola Jr., the new “cornerstone” of the team according to Oliver, did his best to make up for the failings of the seniors. His energy, rebounding and consistency made him the lone bright spot. Osuntola Jr. shot 10-15 from the field, knocked home two threes for 23 points and led the game with 11 rebounds. He only committed two turnovers in 38 minutes of play.

McMaster will grab a lower seed after finishing third in the OUA. Ottawa and Carleton will be the other OUA representatives.
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Basketball: Gee-Gees crush Marauders, showing it's Ottawa, Carleton and then everyone else in the OUA

TORONTO — The Mattamy Athletic Centre seemed poised to host a classic battle between two OUA heavyweights, but instead saw a dazzling scoring performance and end-to-end dominance.

In a 101-68 win, the Ottawa Gee-Gees showed just why they have been the No. 2-ranked team for the majority of the 2013-14 season. The OUA West leading McMaster Marauders had no answer for the barrage, as Ottawa shot 38-57 from the field – good for 56.7%.

“I think today, we showed offence and defence, which is a change for us,” said Gee-Gee guard, Mike L’Africain. “[Mac] played hard but we have so many weapons out there. Our offence, to be honest, feels like it’s always clicking.”

L’Africain started out the game shooting 5-6 overall and 4-5 from deep. His shots came on difficult looks, through a mixture of pull-up jumpers, step-back threes and corner long-balls, especially difficult in a cavernous gym.

Ottawa head coach James Derouin was cautious about the win, pointing to McMaster’s inability to make shots at the free-throw line (11-26) as a sign that the game could have been closer than the box score shows. The dazzling field goal percentage didn’t surprise him, though.

“We felt confident coming in. I felt that because we had played here – we had a great shoot-around, great warm-up, great practice upstairs… Now, we have to reload for tomorrow,” said the coach.

It’s Derouin’s fourth year as the head coach of the Gee-Gees, and he’s created an offensive powerhouse. Johnny Berhanemeskel led the team in scoring, dropping 26 points on 11-14 shooting, L’Africain was behind him with 19 points and Terry Thomas – a St. F-X transfer – finished right behind him with 17 points. The highlight of the game was a Thomas slam over Rohan Boney.

With the victory, Ottawa earns a berth in the CIS Final 8. Just getting a spot in the tournament isn’t enough for the bench boss of 2013’s CIS Bronze medal winners.

“A No. 1 ranking at Nationals is the key to success. Even if we do end up two or three, there is nothing better than getting a No. 1 seed and a lighter first game,” explained Derouin.

The OUA West Coach of the Year Amos Connolly was surprisingly upbeat in the post-game interview, accepting defeat at the hands of a better team.

“That’s life, I’ve been here before,” said Connolly first to the media scrum. “I don’t think our guys weren’t ready to play. I don’t mean they weren’t ready to play, I think we weren’t in the right place. Is that our conference, is that our style of play or the way we practice?”

But Mac still has an opportunity to play in to the CIS Final 8, should they win tomorrow’s game against the Windsor Lancers. The numbers were ugly across the board for the Marauders: 25-67 from the field, 7-21 from three 11-26 at the line. Connolly pointed out that the teams tied in shots attempted, turnovers and only lost the rebounding battle by six.

Top scorers for Mac were Nathan McCarthy and Trevon McNeil, who both scored 14 points. Taylor Black and Joe Rocca – fresh off OUA First Team All-Star nods – had zero and two points, respectively. They combined for 1-12 shooting.

Ottawa will now face off against Carleton, and the Ravens own the only two losses on the Gee-Gees record. The margin of victory for the reigning Wilson Cup champions is 45 points in two games. Windsor will play Mac for the Final 8 berth, and less importantly, OUA Bronze.

Stray observations:

  • McMaster forward Taylor Black said before the game that Terry Thomas could struggle with the athletes Mac has on the perimeter. Thomas said he didn’t have a tough time with the Marauders, and when asked if Mac was defensively easier to prepare for than Ryerson, he said “definitely.” He also said that Mac runs “about three offensive sets,” while Ryerson runs about ten.
  • The game was televised on Sportsnet One, which is a specialty channel not offered in most basic cable packages. Sportsnet Ontario was showing Friday Night Hockey: Owen Sound @ London, while Sportsnet 360 was showing WWE Smackdown. Interesting to see a product trying to grow in a market where students are careful where they spend money stashed on a channel that costs extra cash.
  • McMaster was the closest school to the Ryerson gym, and they could not fill a bus for students to make the hour-long ride down. Still, the fans that did attend were the most vocal group in the building before being effectively muted by a strong Gee-Gee first quarter.
  • The crowd in attendance was much older than I expected. Granted, it is my first Final Four I’ve seen live, but the average age was north of 40. Does the OUA have a demographic problem?

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Basketball: Carleton tops Windsor 84-71 in early OUA semifinal; Lancers look to regroup for bronze game

TORONTO — Ending a good season with consecutive losses when a CIS Final 8 berth was one win away might be the worst feeling in university basketball.

The Windsor Lancers, left with such a bitter taste 52 weeks ago at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, will likely have to win Saturday's OUA Final Four bronze-medal game to avoid a repeat after losing 84-71 to the No. 1 Carleton Ravens in Friday's early semifinal. Carleton did what Carleton does, getting separation in the first half with a quarter break-bridging 12-2 run and a 10-0 run just before recess. The Lancers got the deficit down to single digits only twice in the second half, but couldn't come back.

Windsor will face McMaster at 4 p.m. Saturday for the bronze medal, with the OUA's second berth on the line. Cross-town rivals Carleton and Ottwa will play in the Wilson Cup for the second season in a row with each already having a tournament ticket in hand.

"We have to put it behind us, we have to refocus on tomorrow, and I don’t think it’s going to be hard," said Lancers fifth-year centre Lien Phillip, whose team lost go-to-nationals games in 2013 to Ottawa and Lakehead after star guard Josh Collins was injured in practice the day before the Final Four. "We understand that we put our best effort forward. We’re looking forward to Saturday. It was good because we know that we can play with [Carleton]. They just made us pay for every mistake.

"Definitely, being here before is something we can apply," said Phillip, who had 12 points and five rebounds. "It has a lot to do with how we respond. We don’t want the same thing to happen again. I think we’ll be ready."

Carleton (30-0 in CIS play) was denied its trademark three-point game, but the Final 8 host turned the Lancers' aggressiveness against it with a characteristic passing display. Phil Scrubb, who's gunning for his third consecutive Moser Trophy, led the way with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Thomas Scrubb added a 17-8-7 line. Kevin Churchill took advantage of some out-of-sync Windsor rotations to hoop 14. The three-time all-Canadian forward Tyson Hinz added 11 and Victor Raso had 11 off the bench without trying a two-pointer.

"Every team’s capable of beating us," Phil Scrubb said. "We just have to bring more fire, especially on the defensive end."

Dave Smart's main post-game talking point was that Carleton caught a break from Windsor, which shot an effective 35.3 per cent (16-of-51 overall, 4-21 from three) having a cold night. The 13-point margin was Carleton's third-tightest game vs. a Canadian foe this season

"Compared to our past teams, we’re struggling on defence," he said. "The ball is not going where it needs to go. Offensively, we're doing well.

By the time Collins (held to seven on 3-for-11 shooting) and fellow fifth-year guard Enrico Diloreto (17 points) got going, the deficit was insurmountable. The kicker for the Lancers is that it cancelled out Carleton on the boards (37-36 for Ravens) and at the line (going 21-for-26 to the Ravens' 22-for-27). A 28% eFG in the opening 20 was the killer.

"We obviously settled down in the second half," Lancers coach Chris Oliver said. "We played much better offensively. It’s interesting because clearly Carleton makes you pay for every mistake you make. The second half, every time we made a defensive mistake whether it was a missed assignment or defensive rotation, they made us pay. And that’s why they’re so good.

"If you look at pure stats, we did a lot of things that we want to do," added Oliver, whose team got 11 points from Alex Campbell and a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double from Rotomi Osuntola Jr.. "We rebounded with them, we got to the free-throw line and made them, we didn’t turn the ball over [giving it up only eight times]."

The Lancers got within nine near the midpoint of both the third and fourth quarters. Each time, as if everyone had read the script, the Ravens regrouped and stretched the lead. In the fourth, right after a Khalid Abdel-Gabar triple to cut the margin to 72-63 with 5:21 left, Carleton broke down Windsor for a Churchillian layup to get back to a double-digit spread. It was a similar story in the third after the Lancers, otherwise dormant from downtown, cut loose with three consecutive triples to get within nine with 5:06 left. Smart took timeout rather than wait out a possession or two for the media timeout. Following the resumption of play, Thomas Scrubb canned his only triple of the night to spark a mini-run.

"Our coach made some adjustments and it got easier to move the ball better and we made some plays," said Phil Scrubb, whose team had 19 assists against just 10 turnovers.

Windsor's length and collective springiness gave the Ravens some difficulty during the first quarter. The Ravens had some bouts of being static on offence, leading to broken possessions. It pulled away early in the second, however, holding the Lancers without a bucket while Scrubb hooped five points and Clinton Springer-Williams sank a triple during that aforementioned 12-2 run.

Windsor, relying on some well-sprung traps, got back to six later in the quarter. Right on cue, Carleton found Raso for consecutive three-pointers from near identical points along the right wing. Carleton took a 16-point lead into the break, and left the Lancers looking for salvation on Saturday in order to look forward to a happy Selection Sunday. Oliver, whose team last went to the tournament in 2010, is confident of a bounce-back. The fact his team didn't throw in towel might be ominous.

"The first thing we said to our games is it’s a mindset game," Oliver said. "We’ll give ’em the two hours this next game [between McMaster and Ottawa] takes to feel down or get mad at themselves or whatever they want to do. Once that’s over, it’s a mindset to say it’s a new day, it’s a new game and our goals are still ahead of us, to get to nationals.

"We had a lot of challenges last year with Josh being injured the day before and the funk that caused. This team has adjusted really well to different things all year."
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Basketball: Week in Review, Feb. 19–23

Next in a series of the kenpom-inspired Week in Review, and maybe the last one of 2013-14.

Biggest upsets
It's an all-West version of the upsets this week.

2. MBB: Winnipeg (14%) pushing Victoria to 3 games (Game 1). Awful night for the Terrell Evans Watch and his team in general, though UVic did pull it together in Games 2 and 3 to move on. (The 14% listed here represents the chance that Victoria wouldn't sweep.)

2. MBB: UBC (2%) pushing Alberta to 3 games (Game 2). Winning just one in this series was huge for UBC, going on the road against the third-best team in the country. Winning two of three would have been inexplicable. See below for more on the game they won.

Crazy comebacks
The teams who should have lost, but didn't.

3. WBB: Laurier (9.3%) over Brock, Wednesday (play-by-play, video). I realize we just had some hockey and curling matches of import, but let's go ahead and say that the Golden Hawks are Canada's Team™. After this win and another on Saturday vs. Western, they're now just one more away from the Final 8, which would be the perfect topper to a ridiculous OUA West season. Entering this game, Laurier had defeated teams who were still alive in the playoffs by 4 (Queen's), 2 (Laval), 1 (Western), and 1 (McMaster). And what happened here? Down 12 with 12 minutes to play, they doubled up 18-9 on Brock in the fourth quarter and won by 5. There is a good chance that Western would be in the Final 8 if the bounces in this game went another way. Shades of 2011...

2. MBB: Western (7.2%) over Lakehead, Wednesday (play-by-play). If, at any point, someone at Western wants to make their wins or losses more "normal" or "boring" please consider how much enjoyment the rest of us are getting out of this. (Example of the alternative.) In this one the Mustangs were down 5 with two minutes left, then got a three-point play, a three-point shot, and then two more free throws to put it away. Lakehead committed 20 turnovers, three during the crucial stretch at the end.

MBB: UBC 79 at Alberta 78 (Feb. 22, 2014)
1. MBB: UBC (<0.1%) over Alberta, Saturday (play-by-play). Alberta had a 13-point lead with about four minutes to go (see chart at left), having already won Game 1 by 20 points (though with only a six-point halftime lead). They also had 25 fouls in this game, the 25th and final being the most damaging, as it came with no time left and led to the game-winning free throw. UBC went to the line 20 times more than Alberta did, and converted on 32 of their 35 attempts. Alberta would then win the third game Sunday 80-67, but it wasn't as one-sided as it looked: they were only up 8 in the last minute. If they are one of the so-called "teams that could beat Carleton" then this was, if nothing else, a good series for Carleton.

Biggest changes in SRS rank

Up: UNB MBB (+7, 36 to 29). Swapping spots, more or less, with St. F-X after beating them and CBU this weekend. There is hardly any space between 29th and 38th, so this change looks bigger than it is.

Down: StFX MBB (-6, 30 to 36). Don't look now but the X-Men have lost five of seven. That just brings Dave Smart's record-breaking game a week or so closer.

Slowest game of the week: WBB Ottawa at Carleton, Saturday (65 possessions).
Carleton again. Way too many offensive rebounds allowed by Ottawa in a 59-37 loss. There have been better playoff games than this. When the winning team is shooting below 40%...

Fastest game of the week: MBB MUN at SMU, Friday (101 possessions)
Another amazing/invisible performance from Jacob Hynes, especially considering the pace of this game: 31 minutes played, zero points, one shot, one rebound, one assist. The fans who shoot at halftime for a campus store gift card get more touches than he does.

Terrell Evans Watch

As mentioned above, not a lot went right on Friday for Evans and the Vikes. Better on Saturday, with 8 boards and a game-high 18 points. Then 29 points on Sunday. He just wanted to make an entrance, really. He'll have Fraser Valley to deal with next, and then either Saskatchewan or Alberta, then potentially Carleton or the OUA third-place team after that. The Watch will stand on guard throughout.

Best games of the upcoming week (all times Eastern)
Final 8 play-in games are denoted with * at the beginning.

* MBB: Victoria vs. UFV (CW semifinal, Friday, 6:00pm).

* MBB: Ottawa vs. McMaster (OUA semifinal, Friday, 8:00pm). The second, and better, of the two Wilson Cup semifinals. If (a) you're in the GTA, and (b) you like basketball, but (c) don't go to these games, then (b) is probably false.

* MBB: Saskatchewan at Alberta (CW semifinal, Friday, 10:00pm).

WBB: Saskatchewan at UBC (CW quarterfinal, Friday 10:00pm, Saturday 8:00pm, Sunday 5:00pm if necessary). WBB matchup of the week. The teams ranked ahead of the Huskies are either not playing this week, or are hosting their playoff game(s). Those that are playing either have already qualified for the Final 8 or aren't facing an opponent as good as UBC.

* MBB: OUA bronze-medal game (Saturday, 4:00pm). Presuming the entirety of Carleton University doesn't sink into the Rideau this week, this will be Windsor/McMaster or Windsor/Ottawa. Either one will be excellent. We will have coverage of the Wilson Cup tournament here, by the way.

* WBB: Queen's at Carleton (OUA East final, Saturday 6:00pm). Two of the top 10 defences nationwide, and the slowest pace factor in the country from the Ravens. If you like high scores, this game really isn't for you.

MBB: CW final (Saturday, TBD). Likely the "who doesn't have to play Carleton?" game. Victoria lost this one last year to UBC; thankfully for them, we know UBC won't be their opponent this time should they make it back there.

* MBB: AUS final (Sunday, 1:00pm). Teams to be determined, obviously, but an important game regardless.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Basketball: Week In Review, Feb. 10–16

Next in a series of the kenpom-inspired Week in Review.

Biggest upsets Only upset

1. MBB: UBC Okanagan (18%) over TRU, Saturday (box). Meaningless game for TRU? Perhaps. But a loss to a 4-18, last-place team in the midst of your best season ever and the week before your first CIS playoff game ever? Definitely. Sure, the WolfPack regulars sat a lot of this one out ... but I still don't think this is the result they wanted.

Crazy comebacks
The teams who should have lost, but didn't.

3. MBB: Concordia (2.7%) over UQAM, Thursday (play-by-play). February madness continues. Another brutal game like this for UQAM, who may have played themselves out of the RSEQ playoffs. Up 71-56 late in the third, then a 12-0 run later...well, you can guess what happened. Note that Concordia went 23 for 28 from the line, 13 of which came after that 71-56 point. So more than one made free throw per minute. That'll do.

2. MBB: Queen's (1.1%) over Toronto, Friday (play-by-play). Down 75-69 with two minutes to go, Queen's would score 10 points on 3 shots the rest of the way (yes, you read that correctly) and U of T would score 0.

1. WBB: Brock (0.4%) over Western, Wednesday (play-by-play). Again with the Mustangs!? Has anyone checked on Brad Campbell? This game and the last one are now the difference between their going to Lakehead and hosting Lakehead tonight. They had a 37-18 lead at the half here, holding Brock to a 5-point second quarter. But Dani Elgadi scored 11 in a row (!), part of his 31 on the night. They even had a six-point lead late before Brandon John made two shots at the end: it went 71-68, 71-70, then 72-71.

Biggest changes in SRS

Up: Calgary MBB (+5, 28 to 23). A good, but too-little-too-late weekend vs. Lethbridge, losing by 2 after being up entering the fourth and an overtime win by 13. Sounded like a good series, as friend of the blog Wayne Thomas has outlined (here and here).

Down: UPEI MBB (18 to 24). Remember, kids: friends don't let friends lose to Memorial.

Slowest game of the week: WBB Algoma at Carleton and Algoma at Ottawa, Friday and Saturday (65 possessions each).
The Thunderbirds of northern Ontario lost these games 72-31 and 88-52 to end the year as the only winless team in either men's or women's CIS basketball. We probably didn't need any more possessions in these games. Algoma scored 3 in the third vs. Carleton and 4 in the first vs. Ottawa.

Fastest game of the week: MBB SMU at Acadia, Monday (93 possessions per 40 minutes)
Monday as in last Monday, as in nine days ago. There were actually 104 possessions, but it was an overtime game. Remember games like these, with 73 missed shots, when people use rebound-per-game totals instead of rebound percentages to claim a team has rebounding strength. Also check out how these teams combined for 113 points in the second half alone. Then 21 more in five minutes of OT. A 106-101 final for SMU, and I think they only stopped at 106-101 because the arena staff had to go home.

Terrell Evans Watch

UVic won both of their final regular-season games, against what remains of the UBC Thunderbirds. Evans scored 40 in the weekend, including 26 on 10/13 shooting with 7 defensive rebounds in road game of the pair. He currently holds the highest PER among non-Ottawa-based players, fourth overall behind Terry Thomas, Tyson Hinz, and Phil Scrubb. He is outshooting every Raven except Victor Raso. Time to start a Terrell Evans MVP Watch? (Wayne goes with Jordan Baker, another good choice. But is he subtly unadaptable to Eastern life?)

Best games of the upcoming week (all times Eastern)
There are lots of them.

WBB: Brock at Laurier (Wednesday (tonight!), OUA West quarterfinal, 6:00pm). For some reason the OUA and CIS sites are calling this a Brock home game. It's not; Laurier's own schedule (and the fact that 15 > 11) confirms that. A Laurier win puts them in the Western game on Saturday; a Brock win, at Windsor. The best of the women's games in the OUA this week.

MBB: York at Laurentian (Wednesday, OUA East quarterfinal, 8:00pm). It's your last OUA East game not against Ottawa or Carleton, boys. Better make the best of it.

MBB: Lethbridge at UFV (Thursday, Friday, Saturday if necessary, CW quarterfinal, 10:00pm all days). These two teams played in this series two years ago and gave us this ending. (Don't tell anyone, but I think his foot was on the line.)

MBB: TRU at Saskatchewan (Friday, Saturday, Sunday if necessary, CW quarterfinal, 8:00pm all days). Adjacent in our team rankings, and both left outside the official Top 10, the Wolves and HuskyPack will provide us with good one. As mentioned, it's TRU's first playoff series.

WBB: TBD at Western (Saturday, OUA West semifinal, 1:00pm). Likely either McMaster or Laurier will be the opponent here, but Lakehead-Western, or Williams-Vaughan, would be off the hook as well. A great game to decide who gets to, well, lose to Windsor and then play for the third spot into nationals.

WBB: McGill at Concordia (Saturday, 2:00pm). Season finale for the top two teams in the Quebec circuit, with a home game vs. UQAM likely on the line for the Stingers. (Because that's such a long road trip otherwise.). [Correction: all RSEQ playoff games will be played at Laval this year.]

WBB: TBD at Carleton (Saturday, OUA East semifinal, 5:30pm). Both Ottawa and Toronto would match up well; a double upset by the 5 and 6 seeds would make this a Ryerson-Carleton game, which wouldn't be nearly the same as its men's counterpart.

MBB: Acadia at Dalhousie (Saturday, 7:00pm). Not as lopsided as it seems, and the Tigers will have home court. Of course now that I've said that, Acadia will win by 35.

MBB: TBD at Ottawa (Saturday, OUA East semifinal, 8:00pm). A potential Ottawa-Ryerson game, a game between Nos. 2 and 6 in the country, that is only a conference quarterfinal shouldn't even be legal. That might just be the best game left on the entire CIS schedule, up to and including the Final 8.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Men's Hockey: AUS Weekly Update – Do you have an exit buddy?

(Longtime AUS hockey follower Eric Drummie has volunteered another report this week. Thanks Eric.) 

With one week left, and only two games, we all know who is in the playoffs and who has the byes. But, we have no clue who will play who. Yet. We do know where each pair of teams sits – UNB and Acadia sit at the top with first-round byes, but first place is still up for grabs. UdeM and UPEI sit in third and fourth spot with UdeM having a one point lead and StFX and SMU sit fifth and sixth with StFX having a one point lead. So the playoff combinations are all still up for grabs.

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