- (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.