Similar to last year's, 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 Bronze Baby 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, we're counting down from the most likely winners, starting at the top with the SFU Clan.
1. SIMON FRASER CLAN
RPI / SRS: 1st / +24.0
Probability of winning: 34.9%
How they got here: Exactly the same as last year, superficially: only one loss all year (to UVic, by one point) and a convincing playoff run.
Players in the Top 100: Laurelle Weigl (11th), Kate Hole (30th), Robyn Buna (62nd), Katie Miyazaki (68th), Matteke Hutzler (86th)
Last year: Won the whole thing, beating Regina by 6 in the final.
How they can win: Simply play up to expectations. The Clan have a good 6-10 points on everyone here to begin with.
How they might lose: Well, upsets have happened. McMaster probably gives them a closer game than Ottawa did last year, but the best chance for someone else to grab the Bronze Baby is if CBU's or Windsor's defence can shut SFU down in the final and win a low-scoring game.
2. WINDSOR LANCERS
RPI / SRS: 2nd / +11.9
Probability of winning: 24.4%
How they got here: Another 21-1 season, another playoff run beating Western and Ottawa.
Players in the Top 100: Jessica Clemencon (10th), Bojana Kovacevic (21st), Laura Mullins (26th), Miah-Marie Langlios (83rd), Shavaun Reaney (85th)
Last year: Lost to host Regina in the semifinal, 86-68.
How they can win: By being defensive and being big. They can do these two things better than anyone in the tournament except maybe Regina.
How they might lose: If Ottawa gets better in their rematch game, or if their turnover tendencies become too much to overcome.
6. CAPE BRETON CAPERS
RPI / SRS: 3rd / +11.3
Probability of winning: 11.1%
How they got here: By not losing in regulation all year; they're the only team here who can claim that. Then they had a pair of single-digit wins over Dal and SMU in the AUS playoffs.
Players in the Top 100: Kelsey Hodgson (5th), Kari Everett (55th), Karmen Brown (58th)
Last year: Lost to host Regina in the first round, 66-51.
How they can win: By providing double-team relief on Hodgson with a great supporting cast, especially defensively. They're the only team in the tournament with above-average rankings in all eight of the Four Factors, and they rarely get into foul trouble.
How they might lose: Well, they could lose to Saskatchewan, Windsor, or SFU. Beating all three, or hoping for upsets along the way, is the only way out of that killer sequence. It's safe to say the Capers have the toughest potential draw of the four conference champions.
3. SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES
RPI / SRS: 5th / +16.0
Probability of winning: 11.2%
How they got here: Finished third in the Prairie division, pulled off a slight upset of the Vikes in the first round of the CW playoffs, then had a convincing win over Alberta in the bronze-medal game.
Players in the Top 100: Lindsay DeGroot (1st), Jana Spindler (66th), Alicia Wilson (76th), Kim Tulloch (87th).
Last year: One-and-done vs. Windsor.
How they can win: DeGroot. I don't mean to reduce this team to one player, but she's really, really good. One moment she's hanging casually around the perimeter; the next, she already received the pass, drove to the basket for two, and is halfway down the court, already in position to defend while you stand there wondering whether you could just quit and go to My Dog Joe already. Their offence isn't wonderful, so they need her to have a huge game (or two or three) in her once-home arena.
How they might lose: Turnovers. In their CW semifinal vs. Simon Fraser, they (if I counted correctly) had 10 to SFU's 1 after the first. Do that against anyone and it's going to be a long night. Opponents, such as CBU in the first round, could also push DeGroot to her left and, in the process, weaken the Huskie offence some more.
5. LAVAL ROUGE et OR
RPI / SRS: 4th / +7.7
Probability of winning: 10.7%
How they got here: Were the only QUBL team to finish above .500, so the playoffs were pretty easy to get through.
Players in the Top 100: Marie-Michelle Genois (24th), Marie-Pascale Nadeau (27th), Elyse Jobin (59th)
Last year: Lost to Alberta in the quarterfinals, 84-64.
How they can win: Well, there are national team players scattered throughout the lineup, so if they step up on offence then Laval could surprise.
How they might lose: They're in tough against Regina, a team that's better than them in a number of ways (although I still have Laval as more likely to win). Their semifinal, if they advance, will likely be against the Clan, who wouldn't want a repeat of 2008.
4. REGINA COUGARS
RPI / SRS: 6th / +11.8
Probability of winning: 6.7%
How they got here: First place in their division and Canada West runners-up after losing by 30 to SFU in the CW final.
Players in the Top 100: Brittany Read (2nd), Joanna Zalesiak (19th), Carmen Stewart (88th)
Last year: Went the distance against SFU in the final, losing by six. They beat CBU and Windsor by 15 and 18 along the way.
How they can win: By avoiding low-percentage field goal attempts, and by making their opponents take those unlikely shots instead. This is a general strategy for all teams, but Regina's well-suited to attempt it. Related to this, they are able to out-rebound Laval and either SFU or McMaster, so that may provide them with the necessary edge.
How they might lose: If turnover problems continue, they could be bounced before the semis. Getting to the final is almost more difficult to the Cougars than winning it.
7. OTTAWA GEE-GEES
RPI / SRS: 14th / +0.6
Probability of winning: 0.5%
How they got here: Ran off a few upsets in the OUA East playoffs before losing the OUA final to Windsor, who they play again here.
Players in the Top 100: Hannah Sunley-Paisley (4th)
Last year: Lost by 47 (!) to Simon Fraser in the first round, and by 18 in the consolation semifinals.
How they can win: By figuring out Windsor this time and shutting down whatever star player they have to contain in the semifinals. They probably have a better chance against the U of S, if they can press the Huskies enough to cause those turnovers we were talking about. And then they'll hope for some sort of "Belarus beats Sweden"-type upset so they won't have to face SFU again.
How they might lose: Lots of ways, unfortunately. By giving up 85-plus and not being able to keep pace. By losing to Windsor again for the second time in a week. By not being able to match anyone offensively. This will be a tough tournament for Ottawa.
8. MCMASTER MARAUDERS
RPI / SRS: 21st / +0.6
Probability of winning: 0.2%, but I'm being charitable
How they got here: Automatic host berth.
Players in the Top 100: Hailey Milligan (39th), Taylor Smith (56th), Taylor Chiarot (63rd)
Last year: Did not qualify for the Final 8, the only team this year who wasn't in Regina. The Marauders won one playoff game last year, though: one more than this year.
How they can win: By delaying the tournament to September, at which point Simon Fraser will have left for the NCAA. (But that only gets them to the semis.)
How they might lose: Did you see who they're playing? Also, they may not win if they're unable to name any players on other teams--no, wait, sorry, that's the Hamilton Spectator.