Basketball: Men's Top 10 tracker; Saskatchewan surprise; Huskies win Can West, upset UBC

The No. 1 jinx continues to be unflinchingly rigid: UBC is looking for a wild-card spot after settling for third place at the Canada West final four.

How about Saskatchewan? The Huskies, with Michael Linklater (29 points, 13 assists) and Showron Glover (21 and eight dimes) leading the way, whipped No. 6 Calgary 96-83 to win the Canada West title.

Time will tell how much UBC rues its 104-87 OT loss to Saskatchewan on Friday.

Greg Jockims' Huskies had heroes all over the floor, including that big front line with Troy Gottselig (25 points, seven boards before fouling out) and Michael Lieffers (11 points, game-high 19 rebounds) that buttressed the work of backcourt running mates Showron Glover and Mike Linklater. Six-foot-four wing Duncan Jones, who if memory serves has had some injuries which have kept him off radar screens, seems to have been the X-factor with 24 points in 23 minutes off the bench.

Saskatchewan stayed within single digits of UBC during a November game there, but if someone had told you Glover would be held under 20 points (he had 16 and 11 assists), would you have given the Huskies much chance?

Those who were around for Justin McElroy's liveblog know it was a crazy game. Canada West player of the year Josh Whyte (15 points with a sore hammy) missed a free throw that would have put the T-Birds up one with 10 seconds left. At the other end, Sasky's Nolan Brudehl was fouled with less than a second left, but bricked both to send it to overtime.

One wonders why Saskatchewan, which had Jones take over in OT, rebounded from that better than UBC. The T-Birds, a 69.6 per cent time from the foul line, were also 24-of-41 (58.5 per cent), which was also inexplicable.
  1. UBC Thunderbirds (455) (17-1 CW Pacific, 3-1 playoffs, 1st in RPI through Friday) — Did what it needed to do with a 10-point win over Simon Fraser in the Canada West third-place game on Saturday.

    Blain LaBranche (23 points on 9-of-16) had a bounce-back game (he was 4-of-19 on Friday, but the result meant no one on UBC was full marks).

    It's rare to see the other team have more double-figure scorers than the T-Birds, who had just two to SFU's three.

  2. Carleton Ravens (419) (20-2 OUA-E, 2-0 playoffs, 2nd RPI) — Role reversal — defensive stopped Cole Hobin outscored Josh Gibson-Bascombe 25-17 — helped the defending champs roll past Ottawa 78-64 to win a fourth consecutive OUA East title.

    It was a carbon copy of the regular-season games, Carleton assuming a healthy halftime lead and weathering the storm in the second half. Hobin and Kevin McCleery (20 points, 11 rebounds) were Carleton's offence through the first 15 minutes, scoring 24 of their first 26. The Ravens steadily pulled away — up one after a quarter, nine at halftime, as much as 21 in the third.

    Warren Ward (20 points) and Josh Gibson-Bascombe (17) led an Ottawa charge which got them within eight early in the fourth quarter. However, Hobin hit a pocket three and Willy Manigat got a steal and layup to take the lead back out to 13, and that was the ball game.

    Ottawa can play with Carleton. The Ravens simply don't make as many mistakes.

  3. St. Francis Xavier X-Men (375) (18-2 AUS, 5th RPI) — Lost 87-79 to Saint Mary's on Friday, which in one fell swoop gift-wrapped the AUS regular-season title for Cape Breton and made the loss to SMU a potential semifinal preview.

  4. Cape Breton Capers (326) (18-2 AUS, 9th RPI) — Beat UPEI 94-82 to finish in first place and have a more favourable draw at next week's AUS Final 6 in Sydney. The conference is likely to have only one team headed to the Final 8. (Thought: What if Simon Fraser upsets UBC? Do they go?)

  5. Ottawa Gee-Gees (316) (18-4 OUA-E, 1-1 playoffs, 6th RPI) — Face Lakehead in OUA third-place game on Saturday; they beat Thunderwolves by 37 in the regular season and were 18-4 to LU's 16-6.

  6. Calgary Dinos (274) (15-5 CW Prairie, 3-1 playoffs, 4th RPI) — Got a solid night from their bigs (23 from Ross Bekkering, 19 from Robbie Sihota), but had no answer for the Saskatchewan backcourt.

  7. Windsor Lancers (220) (17-5 OUA-W, 2-0 playoffs, 3rd RPI) — Isaac Kuon hooped 23 points to help Windsor cruise past Lakehead 87-66 in the OUA West final.

    The Lancers had a 47-point first half and cruised home, with five players in double figures. The question is whether they have the savvy ball movement to slow down McCleery and the post presence to stop McCleery from going wild.

  8. Lakehead Thunderwolves (189) (17-5 OUA-W, 1-0 playoffs, 11th RPI) — Will face Ottawa in the OUA third-place game next Saturday at the Thunderdome. Most people will probably throw their support to the Gee-Gees, based on how the first game went (93-56 for the Gee-Gees).

    Cam Hornby had a team-high 15 for the 'Wolves on Saturday.

  9. Simon Fraser (145) (14-4 CW Pacific, 2-3 playoffs, 7th RPI) — Matt Kuzminski (22 points), among others, went out with heads held high in that 10-point loss to UBC.

  10. Saskatchewan Huskies (127) (14-6, 4-0 playoffs, 19th RPI) — As noted, they had the size to match Calgary's Bekkering, Sihota and Tyler Fidler, and their backcourt is quick and experienced.

    Saskatchewan has won 14-of-15. They might be the hottest team in the country going into nationals.
Outside the top 10:
  • The ARV teams: Saint Mary's (42), Dalhousie (32), UQAM (20), McMaster (6), Laval (6).
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  1. When the nationals were, for a period of time, a 10 team format, it was really an advantage to be seeded one or two. In those finals, being seeded numbers 7-10 were a real handicap as you had to play the "extra" game and then face one of the top two, well-rested teams.

    With the 8 team format, I don't think the Ravens will be all that upset if UBC gets the number one seed. Some might argue that being #1 will mean a match up with the weaker Q rep but I don't believe that is a guarantee. The Quebec champion may be seeded anywhere between number 5-8 in order to accommodate the new seeding rules and to "respect" the fact that they are a conference champion.

    I think the Ravens will be happy to play anyone in the first round except Ottawa (should they make it) and, again because of the new rules, it won't be an OUA opponent anyway.

    UBC may finish #1 and end up playing Ottawa or the Lancers which would be interesting to say the least.

  2. Is UBC the only CW team that is a solid Wildcard contender? If Calgary lost its first game vs. SFU, would Dinos get the nod over X or UCB?

  3. If you look at the criteria for selecting the wild card, I don't see Calgary getting the nod over either SFX or UCB as long as both those teams make the AUS final. If one is upset in the semi-finals, then both the fourth place OUA rep and the third place Western rep come into the mix. Too early to do all the analysis of the criteria to see who has the advantage in such a secenario.

  4. Barring an upset of UBC, the wild card will be either X or Cape Breton.
    I don't think there is a case to be made for anyone else.

  5. Huskies have actually won 12 of last 13, including 8 in a row.

  6. X or CB should make conference final for loser to be looked at for wild card. It's hard to justify a wild card birth if you lose to an unranked team . If both teams make final the loser will probably get wild card . Ontario should get wild card if X or Cb do not get to final . UBC should get it if they lose their bid.

  7. If Windsor or Lakehead win the OUA then the other should get in as the wild card.

  8. Anon 6:56...
    Please explain your logic.

  9. Would Calgary get the wild card nod over X or Cape Breton?
    Hell, no.

  10. If UBC wins tonight in the CW consolation game, it is almost impossible to not make them the wild card especially now that X lost to Saint Mary's. Looks like 3 CW teams, 3 OUA teams and 1 each from AUS and Quebec. Rankings are in turmoil with UBC & X losing; lots still to be played.

  11. Can someone explain to me why Hanson sat Josh Whyte for the first 5 minutes of the game? I know he had some sort of knock but he ended up playing 31 minutes.

    It's not as if he sat him until the Huskies were killing his team and then decided to risk his injured star. The game was tied (or at least close) when Whyte came on. So if you were saving him to avoid further injury, why sit him for 5 minutes and then put him out there in a very close game.

    If Whyte is hurt, good luck to the Thunderbirds tonight against the SFU guards.

  12. Whyte is indeed hurt, and playing SFU which handed them their only loss is scary.
    If UBC loses tonight's game what then?
    Losing tonight, IMO, doesn't necessarily mean UBC is dead in the water.
    Overall, UBC still would have a 22-3 record.
    If Cape Breton wins the AUS, that means X would have at least five losses.
    Maybe UBC could get lucky.
    The TBirds could make life easier for everybody if they could just gut out a ein tonight.

  13. UBC's problem could end up being they didn't go out of conference to play anybody. Staying at home to pad your record doesn't look as good as X or UCB that travelled outside their region for competition. I think UBC is still a solid wildcard contender, but in the future Hansen should consider playing some non-conference competition away from home. Even neutral site games at a tournament somewhere would carry more weight. If UCB loses in the AUS final, I think they are just as legitimate a wildcard as UBC.

  14. If UBC is beaten tonight then they should be out. How could they get the wildcard but not SFU - who will have beaten them twice.

    And they did play a very, very soft schedule.

    If Josh Whyte is indeed seriously on the limp, it may not mean much getting the wild card anyway. Night and day without a health Whyte.

  15. SFU has essentially no hope of getting the wild card. Even with two wins over UBC (best case for them) they have loses to unranked Lethbridge, Regina, and Victoria as well as loses to UBC, Calgary, and Saskatchewan which was when the Huskies weren't ranked. If they do beat UBC, that will cripple the tbirds chance since it would bring AUS teams back in the mix and potentially one or two OUA schools would then get a look. Unfortunately for SFU they are behind UBC, AUSx2, and at least one of the OUA schools regardless of what they do on Saturday.

    As for UBC's soft schedule, they didn't do anything notable on the road in non-regular season but they did beat Windsor, Laval, and Waterloo pretty handily in pre-season.

  16. Cantankerous3/07/2010 12:22 am

    Anon 5:18...
    You might want to review UBC's results from earlier this season.
    Yes, they did beat Windsor, Laval and Waterloo at home....but handily?
    The scores were in case you forgot:

    UBC 77 Windsor 70
    UBC 80 Laval 78
    UBC 67 Waterloo 61

    That's 15 points total cumulative home, against three teams that
    traveled 3 time zones to play the Birds.
    By comparison, Carleton beat Waterloo and Windsor at home by 27 and 33 point margins, respectively.
    Now THATS what I call winning handily!

  17. Way to Go University of Saskatchewan HUSKIES!!!

  18. it says above that lakehead will host ottawa but the oua constitution states clearly that the team with the better conference record hosts the third place game. ottawa was 18-4 while lakehead was 17-5. up until this year the game rotated along with the host location of the wilson cup game. given the generally accepted imbalance in divisional strength, this would seem reasonable. this year ottawa gets both games which seems a bit unfair to the west.

  19. game is in ottawa; prior two seasons were pre-determined one home game for each league given that this is the third and last time they'll need this 3rd place game to be fair they gave it to the team with the best overall record b/t two finalists. If records had been tied ottawa gets it on a head-to-head win in Thunder Bay. It seems very fair to me. Greg Carter comes home with a nationals berth at stake.

  20. True I didn't even look at the UBC scores so thanks for clarifying that. I wasn't making an argument that UBC should still be ahead of Carleton, merely that they did beat a pair of decent OUA teams - though early season results mean very little.

    The interesting situation now is the seeding. Assuming one of the big AUS schools win that division, questions about where you slot QSSF champ and UBC as the wild card could make for some very tough first round match-ups.

  21. Thanks for the catch on the third-place game ... no release from Ottawa U following the game and nothing on the OUA website (since it's not a regularly scheduled game), and no time on deadline to go poke through the constitution. Still should have known that, I guess.

  22. Lakehead @ Ottawa. Sat March 13. 8Pm tip off, I believe.

  23. The oua switched it monday. actually.

  24. Great, now I get to see both games.
    I don't want to say an Ottawa win is a sure thing but
    the Gee Gees stomped Lakehead but good right in the Thunderdome so...

  25. Yes Ottawa did give a serious beating to LU @ home vs Ottawa in their first matchup. But you must consider it was 24hrs after arguably the biggest win in Lakeheads last 20 yrs(Carleton). That had to be a tough game to follow up.......but I guess thats what great teams do. Win big back 2 back games.