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:
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?