Canada West Men's Basketball Power Rankings: Week 1

Sports predictions have a funny way of falling to pieces in a span of 24 hours. The first week of any season can bring with it seemingly monumental upsets, which as the season progresses, turn out not to be upsets at all, but merely a case of prognosticators over/underrating a team.

In men's basketball in the Canada West however, not so much. In the new one-division format, aside from Brandon's upset sweep of Fraser Valley, things went mostly as expected...

1. UBC Thunderbirds (1–1)
Friday: W, 91–60 vs. Saskatchewan
Saturday: L, 96–97 vs. Saskatchewan

When you're the consensus #1 team in the nation, facing the defending champions (who happened to defeat you in the final last year) in your home opener, it becomes a statement game. UBC passed that test with a blowout victory, which featured a 20–0 run in the first half. A nail-biting loss to the Huskies the next night hurt, but UBC did nothing to dispel the notion that they are the team to beat in the Canada West this year.

2. Trinity Western Spartans (2–0)
Friday: W, 116–79 @ Lethbridge
Saturday: W, 98–82 @ Lethbridge

True, Lethbridge is no one's idea of a world-beater, but when you outscore an opponent 40–12 in the first quarter, as TWU did on Friday, it'll turn some heads. 2009 CIS MVP Jacob Doerksen scored 28 points on Friday, and transfer guard Tristan Smith had 31 points and 8 assists on Saturday. They're a deep, deep team that can score in bunches, and their series at home against UBC this will be a real test for both teams.

3. Saskatchewan Huskies (1–1)
Friday: L, 60–91 @ UBC
Saturday: W, 97–96 @ UBC

The good: They proved in their Saturday victory that they can still play with the best in the CIS, despite the loss of three seniors from last year's championship team. The bad: A 36.3% shooting percentage isn't going to cut it in any league, and this is a team that is still finding what works and what doesn't in its rotation. The ugly: Giving up 20 straight points in your first game as defending champions is nobody's idea of a strong showing.

4. Calgary Dinos (1–1)
Friday: L, 58–68 @ Victoria
Saturday: W, 83–74 @ Victoria

Despite the losses of All-Canadian Ross Bekkering and All-Star Robbie Sihota, Calgary was ranked #4 by Canada West coaches going into this season, and it's easy to see why—led by Tyler Fidler, this is still a talented team that played a tough series with UVic on the road. They outscored the Vikes 28–10 in the final quarter of Saturday's win to earn the split, and will have a couple of easy series against Lethbridge and Calgary in the next two weeks to pad their record.

5. Victoria Vikes (1–1)
Friday: W, 68–58 vs. Calgary
Saturday: L, 74–83 vs. Calgary

You know what you're getting with the Vikes under head coach Craig Beaucamp: Lots of effort and a suffocating defense. Where the points come from is another question—they'll be relying on guards Jeff Cullen and Ryan MacKinnon to lead the team this year, but neither one can score in bunches.

6. Brandon Bobcats (2–0)
Friday: W, 77–75 vs. Thompson Rivers
Saturday: W, 88–80 vs. Thompson Rivers

Little was expected of the Bobcats this year following a year outside the playoffs, resignation of Keith Vassell as coach and the departures of stalwarts Dany Charlery and Tarik Tokar. But a two-game sweep of Thompson Rivers, even if they did finish 3–17 last year, gives the team some optimism going forward.

Waiting for action:

7. Fraser Valley Cascades

No game last weekend, but following a 7–1 preseason, eyes will be on them in two weekends against Saskatchewan to see if they can vault into the first tier of Canada West contenders

8. Alberta Golden Bears

Will rookie of the year Jordan Baker continue his maturation as a leader for the Bears? Will C.G. Morrison end his career on a high note after a year off to injuries? A warm-up test against Thompson Rivers this weekend may offer some clues.

9. Regina Cougars

How well the Cougars do this year may depend on how well they can weather the storm while Jared Janotta and Jeff Lukomski ply their trade for Regina's football team—where Janotta is a receiver and Lukomski is a cornerback. Three straight series against TWU, Calgary and Alberta in November may determine their fate.

The rest

10. Manitoba Bisons (1–0)
Friday: W, 108–88 vs. Winnipeg

A win is nice, but when it comes against a team that only had one win all of last year, as was the case for the Wesmen, it doesn't exactly turn heads.

T11. Thompson River WolfPack (0–2)
Friday: L, 75–77 @ Brandon
Saturday: L, 80–88 @ Brandon

T11. Lethbridge Pronghorns (0–2)
Friday: L, 79–116 vs. TWU
Saturday: L, 82–98 vs. TWU

T11. Wininpeg Wesman (0–1)
Friday: L, 88–108 @ Manitoba

You know how it is at the any of Power Rankings. The writer cleverly attempts to demonstrate just how bad the teams at the bottom are. But one weekend isn't a large enough sample size to engage in such snarky attacks, so we'll resist and call it a draw amongst the winless teams. At least for this week.
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