Hoops: SMU win sparks debate; the fine line between rest and rust

Saint Mary's winning the Atlantic conference title did us all a friggin' favour — it means we can analyze the wild-card arguments for Acadia and Brandon to death until we learn the field tonight.

Neither team played their best basketball at the most important time of the season, which is why they're in this situation. The case for Brandon (28-8, 4th in RPI) is that they played a tougher schedule. They beat Calgary twice, but were otherwise 1-4 against tournament teams (although that includes a 14-point win over UBC and a one-point loss to Carleton).

The argument for Acadia would take in the fact they beat the Bobcats in their lone meeting at the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg over the Christmas holidays and are 25-6 on the season. Three of those losses, though, came against the same team, Saint Mary's, and Acadia is just 9th in the RPI. (As a footnote to that, the Atlantic University Sport powers-that-be might want to review their rules regarding pre-season practice and games ... there was some carping about that on the Dale Stevens discussion list back in the fall, and one wonders if there's a correlation with the RPI of Atlantic teams. Other than Saint Mary's and that one holiday tournament, Acadia hasn't seen any of other Final 8 teams.)

Meantime, cishoops.ca has the lowdown on Brock clinching the final OUA spot beating Ottawa.
Something else worthy of discussion is whether it's time to look at a more compact playoff schedule. There were a couple comments (from Chris Kallan and Mark Wacyk) that teams looked sluggish and that their game lacked finish.

Acadia had almost two weeks off before the AUS Final 6. Now their destiny is out of their hands. In the OUA, Carleton, which will have to play three games in three days to win the Final 8, has only played three times in three weeks. (Then again, in the days when the OUA held a Final Four, that would have meant giving up home court for the division final, which is kind of silly.) The Canada West reps at nationals will also go 12 days between games.

The players are students and there are logistical things to work out, but is having that much time between the conference playoffs and the nationals really best for the game, especially in a sport where so much depends on being in a good rhythm, having that fine touch?
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  1. Yeah, agree with you on the delays: those often tend to hurt even when they're smaller (see Ottawa-Anaheim last year), so two weeks off is too much in my mind.

  2. That's going to be a tough decision between Acadia and Brandon. My pick is the Bobcats by a nose, due to the tougher conference, but it could go either way as both teams are pretty deserving.

  3. They just announced it: Acadia gets the wild card.

    Tough for Brandon.

  4. Painful for Canada West overall: to have two teams as good as Brandon and Calgary miss out on the nationals is a tough pill to swallow.

  5. This is a year that really makes the argument for a 16-team tournament... look at the teams who are comparable with some of the Final 8 teams.

    9) Brandon
    10) Calgary
    11) St. FX
    12) Ottawa
    13) Toronto
    14) Windsor
    15) Cape Breton
    16) Concordia, Queen's or Victoria, take your pick

    Fair enough, the 16th seed might be a blowout, but none of them have ever won a NCAA tournament game either.

  6. 16 teams would be good in my books: the only problem is the length of the tournament, as it's tough to squeeze that many games into anything shorter than a week and it's also tough for athletes to miss that much class.

  7. There's the problem... if it's too cost-prohobitive to do a 16-team tournament, you might as well stay at eight. Besides, if you were meant to win, you'd find a way in.

    I thought of showing how you could have the top 4 seeds each host a regional, but ultimately we'd just be re-hashing the matchups that already went down in the various conference playoffs.

  8. As far as those teams like Calgary, Windsor, Brandon, et al that missed the big dance are concerned, I say tough.
    All these teams are on the outside looking in now because they lost games they should have won.
    In almost all cases, except Brandon, these teams were playing on their home floor.
    Windsor and Calgary, especially, had reputations of being virtually unbeatable
    at home but wound up losing the games that mattered the most all year on their own courts.
    I say kudos to teams like Western and St. Mary's who got to the big dance by winning their way in.
    Playoff upsets is a fact of life in sports.
    I feel sorry for those teams that missed out, but hey, if you want to be a champion you got to win the games that the season hinges on, period.

  9. You can say the Canada West is tougher than the AUS if you want, though team-by-team I'm still not convinced it's true. But you can't seriously argue that Brandon played a tougher schedule than Acadia. The Bobcats picked up 15 of their 20 regular-season wins against teams with losing records. Acadia went 10-0 against losing teams and 8-2 against teams at .500or better, including 4-2 against three teams (St. F.X., Saint Mary's and Cape Breton) with a combined winning percentage of .716.

    Throw in the fact that Acadia finished higher in their conference, had a better record against winning teams and also beat Brandon head-to-head, and it really wasn't a tough decision at all to pick the Axemen over the Bobcats.

  10. Chad now looks like a genius...