Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Men's basketball: 2010 Final 8 capsule preview

This preview gives you a quick look at the eight teams, their rankings and top players, and what they might need to do to win or lose the Final 8 this year.

Top 100 refers to these rankings for 2009-2010. RPI and SRS are explained here, along with tournament odds. You may also wish to refer to the At-A-Glance handout, available here.

This year, just like in the women's preview, we're counting down from the most likely winners, starting at the top with the Carleton Ravens.


1. CARLETON RAVENS

RPI / SRS: 2nd / +15.5
Probability of winning: 34.5%
How they got here: By hosting, but also by finishing first in the OUA East and winning three playoff games by 13, 14, and 19 points.
Players in the Top 100: Kevin McCleery (4th), Tyson Hinz (16th), Elliot Thompson (33rd), Mike Kenny (70th), Willy Manigat (94th), Cole Hobin (99th)
Last year: Won a thrilling semi against Western (who didn't make it this year) and then a very good final against UBC (who did).
How they can win: If they face UBC in the final, they'll need to slow the game down enough to get through the Thunderbird defence. But to get there, the Ravens have to take UQAM seriously (having lost to a worse team this year) and then beat the Lancers-Huskies winner, neither of which will be a pushover. Kenny might be the best all-around shooter in the country, and McCleery's not far behind.
How they might lose: Windsor could outrebound and outshoot them again, like they did in November of 2008, but neither team is still the same in March of 2010. Carleton can get into foul trouble sometimes, too.


3. UBC THUNDERBIRDS

RPI / SRS: 1st / +16.3
Probability of winning: 31.2%
How they got here: Upset in overtime in the Canada West semifinal by the Huskies, the T-Birds needed the good grace of the wildcard selection committee to allow them to advance to the Final 8.
Players in the Top 100: Josh Whyte (5th)
Last year: Runners-up; lost the final to Carleton.
How they can win: Defence, defence, defence. Theirs is the best in the country, more likely than not, and in the first two rounds they won't be facing outstanding offensive teams.
How they might lose: Well, that #1 team is pretty good...or they can fall victim to poor shooting and ball-control (like, say, a combined 9-of-31 from two players and 5 turnovers in 15 minutes from another). A prolonged absence of Josh Whyte would also doom this team.


4. WINDSOR LANCERS

RPI / SRS: 3rd / +8.1
Probability of winning: 10.8%
How they got here: OUA West winners: easy wins over Lakehead and Laurier, both at home.
Players in the Top 100: Isaac Kuon (27th), Andre Smyth (35th), Nigel Johnson-Tyghter (45th), Josh Collins (68th)
Last year: Did not qualify after losing 98-68 to Western in the OUA West final and 73-59 to Ottawa in the OUA play-in game. You have to go back to 2007, when they beat Carleton in the OUA final, to find the last Final 8 appearance for the Lancers.
How they can win: Shutting down Glover et al. and hoping for an upset to strike twice in their semifinal against Carleton. They're a solidly above-average team with complementary contributors, and teams like that can surprise. Collins runs it from the outside, Smyth and Johnson-Tyghter work inside, while Kuon just has his fingerprints over everything.
How they might lose: Despite being a 1-in-10 shot to win this thing, they're actually a few points behind the other teams, mostly because of close wins, especially late in the season, against teams that weren't that close to them (Laurier, Guelph, Toronto).


2. CAPE BRETON CAPERS

RPI / SRS: 5th (tied) / +13.1
Probability of winning: 6.8%
How they got here: By winning the third and final matchup between them and the X-Men, 94-77 to win the AUS.
Players in the Top 100: Phillip Nkrumah (51th), Tremaine Fraser (81st)
Last year: Did not qualify.
How they can win: By outrunning everyone. They have by far the highest pace factor in the league, rarely turn the ball over, and keep the other team from setting up for good shots. Nkrumah leads the team both in rebounds and assists, somehow.
How they might lose: If they can't contain any of the offensively-excellent Dinos and have to foul more than is desirable, or if any one of a number of roadblocks materialize along the expected Calgary-UBC-Carleton path.


7. CALGARY DINOS

RPI / SRS: 5th (tied) / +13.0
Probability of winning: 6.7%
How they got here: Beat SFU, lost to Saskatchewan, and finished second in Canada West.
Players in the Top 100: Ross Bekkering (3rd), Robbie Sihota (19th), Tyler Fidler (37th), Jamie McLeod (92nd)
Last year: Lost the all-Canada West semifinal.
How they can win: Drawing fouls and causing turnovers. Bekkering certainly does the former very well both.
How they might lose: They're in tough against the Caper defence, or its UBC equivalent. Turnovers and bad shots can also be a problem with some of these players, he said, having drafted Fidler in the MUBL. Calgary's bench is also a little thin.


5. SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES

RPI / SRS: 8th / +14.2
Probability of winning: 5.6%
How they got here: Canada West winners, knocking off the two "home" teams in the CW Final Four in Vancouver.
Players in the Top 100: Showron Glover (1st), Troy Gottselig (22nd), Michael Linklater (32nd), Michael Lieffers (44th), Nolan Brudehl (67th).
Last year: Did not qualify.
How they can win: Their offence is second only to Carleton among Final 8 teams, due in large part to having four players in the top 50. Gottselig and Lieffers contribute greatly to this team's top rebounding grade. All it takes is a UQAM upset and the Huskies are sitting pretty.
How they might lose: With no big weaknesses on this team (like their first-round opponent Windsor), there's no obvious answer. They're not much worse than Carleton or UBC, but must beat them both in the most likely case.


6. LAKEHEAD GREAT GROUP OF DUDES

RPI / SRS: 10th / +5.0
Probability of winning: 3.9%
How they got here: It was an adventure. They needed Ottawa to lose not once, but twice (to Carleton and then to them). Our Mike Aylward has more.
Players in the Top 100: Jamie Searle (42nd), Ryan Thompson (98th)
Last year: Uh, didn't make it. They haven't finished above 7th in the OUA West in a while.
How they can win: By banding together as a group of dudes, perhaps even a good such group. Searle is a steady playmaker and big Yoosrie Salhia is very effective.
How they might lose: Despite the hyped guard matchup, Whyte's ranked 5th in the country and Greg Carter is ranked 153rd. That's...not a small difference. And behind Yoosrie Salhia, they have no rebounding threats.


8. UQAM CITADINS

RPI / SRS: 24th / -0.4 (yes, minus 0.4 points per game)
Probability of winning: 0.4%
How they got here: Because somebody had to win the QUBL. Beat Laval 78-75 in the QUBL final. (Twice, according to the schedule.)
Players in the Top 100: Adil El Makssoud (69th), Arthaud Plesius (97th) (plus Gregory St-Amand, who's six minutes short of qualifying)
Last year: Didn't qualify; lost to Concordia in the QUBL final.
How they can win: Actually, they've been very good at causing turnovers this year. That's a possibility. And Carleton did lose to York.
How they might lose: I'll repeat my line from the McMaster women and ask: did you see who they're playing?

20 comments:

  1. Does everyone forget that the first job of a point guard is to get everyone on the team involved and make their teammates better?? On paper is looks like whyte is head and shoulders above carter. But will be suprised if whyte hits his avg in points without having to take 20+ shots to do it. By far one of the most interesting matchups of the first round along with the windsor-sask game.

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  2. UBC's defence: "Their's is the best in the country".

    Why?
    Statistically, in points allowed per game?
    Physically, in that they are bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else?
    Mentally, in their toughness and composure as demonstrated in overtime playoff games?
    Spiritually?

    Just interested.

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  3. "Defence, defence, defence"?
    How about Carleton, Carleton, Carleton?
    Check the tape on the Wilson Cup game, and talk to me about defence.

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  4. A CIS fan, I thought I'd mention an interesting parity/comparison in the 07-08 Brock Badgers Championship team and the 09-10 Lakehead Thunderwolves teams:

    BU seeded 7th - LU seeded 6th in CIS Tourney
    BU & LU - both faced UBC in 1st round at CIS's
    BU & LU - both OUA Bronze Medallists to reach CIS's
    BU & LU - both had Playoff record: 2-1
    BU (16-6) & LU (17-5) - both finished 2nd in OUA-W
    BU & LU - both Top 10 ranking moved 6 thru 9 for most of year

    BU had a great 1-2 combo of Rootes & White, while LU has Carter & Salhia

    Any chance of the parity ending here?

    Any debate or discussion?

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  5. The biggest difference between Brock and LU is that Brock team were all 5th year guys.
    Except for Owen White, most everyone who was instrumental in Brock's win were gone the next year.
    LU, on the other hand, are the kiddie corps by comparison.
    In terms of experience, they compare more with the 2000-2001 Carleton team that played
    in their first nationals under Smart.
    Lakehead may not win it this year...although they could...but all
    signs point to the fact that they could well become a fixture at the final 8 for years to come.

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  6. I don't know where you came up with
    a/ UBC has the best defence
    b/ UBC won't be facing "any outstanding offensive teams" in the first two rounds.
    Carleton has the best D, no ifs, ands or buts.
    Their PPG against of 63.1 is a full five points better than the Birds.
    And as far as the second point goes...you might want to check the brackets again.
    If all goes according to form, # 3 UBC will face # 2 Cape Breton in the semis.
    Cape Breton leads the country with a 95 PPG average...
    that's not I would call offensively challenged.

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  7. I'm aware of the brackets, thanks. CBU does average a lot of points per game, but they also have far, far more possessions per game than any other teams (94 vs. 84 for the second-place team). I didn't say Cape Breton was offensively challenged, my dear anonymous dissenting reader, but scoring more when you have more opportunities doesn't make you an outstanding offensive team.

    As for the T-Birds' D, it's based partly on the snippets of games I've caught online this year, and partly on stats. UBC allowed only 82 points per 100 possessions; lowest in the country by 3 points. (Carleton's at 86.) Their opponents don't get good shots, turn the ball over a lot, and can barely get a board in edgewise. That, to me, is the best defence in the country.

    Besides, I think we can evaluate offences and defences based on something a little more sophisticated than points per game, can't we?

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  8. A Raven Maniac3/17/2010 9:54 pm

    "Their opponents don't get good shots, turn the ball over a lot, and can barely get a board in edgewise...
    That to me is the best defence in the country."
    Are you referring to UBC?
    Because forcing bad shots and turnovers and out rebounding opponents has been Carleton's MO for close to a decade now.

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  9. Well, believe it or not more than one team can do that. Like Rob says, 82 points allowed per 100 possessions for UBC, 86 per 100 for Carleton. Seems like they're 1 and 1A. The difference might be Carleton's proficiency on offence.

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  10. Anonymous Dissenting Reader3/17/2010 10:32 pm

    "Scoring more when you have more opportunities doesn't make you an outstanding offensive team"

    ...Well, you can't argue with logic like that, can you?

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  11. @ADR: You're in disagreeing for disagreeing's sake territory (quoting people's words back at them, sorry, I can't stand it, it's obnoxious. Rob knows what he said.)

    An outstanding offensive team is one which scores a lot on a per-possession basis. Cape Breton's Pace Factor is so far beyond that of anyone else that it's a big part of them averaging 95 points.

    They're a good offensive team, obviously, and I look forward to watching them play against Calgary. Good does not equal most efficient.

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  12. I'm sorry if I seem like I am being a smart ass, but to even imply CB is not an outstanding offensive team is crazy.
    95 PPG is 95 PPG no matter how you slice it.
    Ok so they have more possessions than anyone else, so what?
    That's like saying a hockey team only scores more goals than
    anyone else because they get more shots on goal than anyone else.
    Look, I have seen CB up close and personal in Ottawa when they scored a season high 97 against the Gee Gees...
    they are the real deal.
    It's not only the MUNs and UNBs they are putting up fat numbers against.
    You can come up with all the computations and permutations you want with that points per possession jive but Cape Breton has got skills.
    Maybe they aren't the most efficient team in the CIS, but they are as dangerous as anyone out there.

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  13. No one said they weren't dangerous ... they're very good.

    The hockey shots on goal comparison is a little off, though. It's apples and oranges.

    I see where you are coming from, Cape Breton scores a lot of points. Rob is pointing out that has to do a lot with the tempo they play at.

    It's an extreme example, and in no way am I making a comparison ... but you probably have read about that Division 3 team, Grinnell College, which does a full sub every 40 seconds, attempts 60 threes a game and averages, in good seasons, averages 125 points a game.

    Some would say they're outstanding offensively because, man, 125 points ... others would say well, the tempo of their games is so sped-up they're not as outstanding as the raw number might have you believe.

    (Kind of amazing no one in CIS at a school where basketball is non-priority doesn't put in the Grinnell system. If you're Winnipeg, what have you got to lose?)

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  14. people think Carleton have the best defence?

    Where was that defence when they were on the road vs. LU & York? They hit up York and give up 80 points while getting out-rebounded, by a team that had no business even competing with them in the game, then they go to LU and take a 10 point lead after the first quarter and watch what had been pretty much a poor shooting Voyageurs squad go shot for shot with them the rest of the game

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  15. A Raven Maniac3/18/2010 11:03 am

    Prizby...
    Yes Carleton had a bad game in York but really doesn't every team have a bad game now and then?
    Isn't Carleton entitled to a clunker?
    Since the post season began Carleton has allowed 65, 64 and 52 points in three games.
    The 52 points came in the Wilson Cup against nationally ranked Windsor.
    Where was UBC's D when they allowed 85 points in regulation and then got stomped in OT....at home no less.
    And the Birds allowed TRU 81 points in an uncomfortable road win so it just
    goes to show sometimes even the best teams don't always bring the A game.

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  16. Great preview Rob. One thing I may suggest is to somehow incorporate defensive skills/contributions into the player ratings. Don't know if it's possible but that surely would elevate a ranking of a player like Lakehead's Carter who may be the best defensive guard/player in the CIS.

    Mike Aylward

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  17. I think people are splitting hairs with all the number crunching, however, I would defer to the gents who a) have seen a lot of ball and b) work with stats that have been balanced for the vast variety of styles of play.

    A quick point on CBU should serve as an appropriate example - 95 points is a huge number and could mean they are one of the better offensive teams in the CIS. However, as noted, if you only guy by raw points wouldn't that make them the secod worst defensive team in the tournament (only Saskatchewan allows more points per game)? I don't think you can say with certainty CBU is the second worst defensive team, just like you can't say they are the best offensive team.

    Either way, it would be a huge contrast in styles if UBC beats Lakehead and then meets CBU. Two quite different squads.

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  18. Two things:
    #1, I wouldn't underestimate Lakehead. They outscored 15 different teams in the OUA this season in the fourth quarter, and showed tremendous composure in their OUA bronze medal win against Ottawa. True, they're a young team, and will certainly be better next year, but they can win now. I'd be concerned if I was a Thunderbirds fan, especially if UBC is up by 10 points or so after 3 quarters - no lead is safe.

    #2, it's a travesty that Cole Hobin is ranked #99. He should be in the top 20, if not the top 10. He doesn't always get that many points, but he shuts players down (just ask All-Canadian 1st team guard Gibson-Bascombe) and scores momentum-changing three-pointers in big games.
    I saw him do it at Capital Hoops, the OUA East final and the OUA final. I'd be shocked if he didn't do it at final 8.

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  19. WAY TO GO SASKATCHEWAN --- YOU ARE #1....YES #1

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  20. Cape Breton might have been the most gifted athletically of
    all 8 teams but unfortunately, they don't have much of
    what coaches call basketball IQ.
    Their quarter final loss to a mediocre Calgary team showed that.
    In fact, I'd would say that the Capers are the Afghan Hounds of this years tournament.

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