Hoops: Eight is enough...

Just a total foofarah on the Final 8, starting with the matchups:
  • (6) Western vs. (3) Saint Mary's: It figures that the matchup between two bright bench coaches, Western's Brad Campbell and SMU's Ross Quackenbush, gets scheduled for 11 a.m., when some of us aren't awake enough to pick up all their nuanced moves.

    There's a good take at cishoops.ca explaining how the Huskies went from being the No. 3 seed in their own conference tournament to the same seed at the nationals.
  • (7) Brock vs. (2) UBC: The T-Birds, as the No. 2 seed last season, lost to Ottawa in the first round. Brock is a similarly dangerous team, with some good veterans and maybe just a bit of a chip on its shoulder.

    Chris Dyck, UBC's primary scoring option, struggled at this stage in 2007, shooting 2-for-12 and fouling out in that loss to the Gee-Gees. There's a storyline for ya.
  • (5) Acadia vs. (4) Laval: This can be billed as a tough defensive team (39% shooting against prior to he AUS Final 6) trying to shut down the leading scorer in the country, J.P. Morin. The Axemen duo of Achuil Lual and Leonel Saintil should be able to make Morin work for his touches. They also had some success with a 2-3 zone vs. Saint Mary's; you might see them use that vs. Laval to save their bigs some fouls and push Morin out of the post.
  • (8) Alberta vs. (1) Carleton: There's a bit of historical significance. Don Horwood's Golden Bears won the last title in 2002 before the Ravens began their run, but how well can they defend in the post vs. the Ravens' Aaron Doornekamp? This could follow the close-for-a-while pattern of Carleton's last two playoff wins.

Last, but not least...

  • Sweet 16? Reading that tournament committee apparently considered seven schools for the wild-card bid might spark thoughts -- again -- about expanding the tournament. Brandon, Calgary, Cape Breton, Ottawa, St. Francis Xavier, Toronto and Windsor are each equal to if not better than a couple of tournament teams. Throw in someone to be the No. 16 seed and play Carleton in the first round...

    ... Don't miss the point, though. There's sort of a destiny aspect to winning a national title. You win it, but it wins you.

    Each of the teams who are on the outside looking in had a chance. Calgary is home due to one bad weekend. The same goes for Brandon. Windsor and Toronto are home due to one rough game. So it goes. The conference playoffs have a one-and-done urgency to them that should be retained, not tampered with. It's good there aren't as many second chances in the CIS as there are in NCAA Division 1.
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  1. I for one, would like to see a 16 team tournament over two weekends at three venues (two the first weekend and then one for the final four).

    Not only would you have more teams represented, it would give more fans from across the country the chance to see teams from other conferences.

    I have season tickets to the Carleton Ravens, but aside from a pre-season tournament the only teams I get to see live are from the OUA. But with three venues rotating across the country there would be more of a chance to see a variety of teams.

  2. The two weekends, different venues proposal actually would work a lot better than doing a 16 team tournament over one week, in my mind: it would make it a lot easier for the athletes to deal with class stuff, as missing a full week would be pretty hard. The hurdle I'd see with this proposal would be convincing athletic directors to pay for flights there and back on subsequent weekends (especially in Canada West, where you're probably flying to the regionals the weekend before). Hosting across different venues might also be a little tricky, but if FIFA can pull it off in different countries for a World Cup, there's a good chance it can be done in different Canadian cities.

  3. They tried a 16 tournament, Final 4 format in the mid 80's and it was dropped after 4 years.
    Really, I like the Final 8 format.
    3 days, 8 teams, 10 games...lots of action in a 48-60 hour period for a b-ball junkie.
    And besides, 8 teams represents almost 20% of all teams (43) in the CIS.
    Proportionally, that's way more than the 65 berths in the NCAA tournament represents of the total D-1 schools.
    There are teams coming to Ottawa that nobody expected and there are teams that will be staying home this weekend that everyone figured would be there.
    That is the beauty of the playoff system.
    The fact that some favourites were upset and some lesser regarded teams played their way into the tournament suits me just fine.
    Nothing in life is guaranteed...even if you are 20-2.

  4. Exactly.

    But if more schools join for basketball (Nipissing, Algoma, UOIT, UNBC, one of the U de Quebec schools...) exploring a bigger tournament would be worthwhile.