Canada West Men's Basketball Power Rankings: Week 2

In honour of the US midterm elections, let's kick off this week from a quote from the not-quite-late, not-quite-great former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who famously said:
"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns; there are things we do not know we don’t know."
In Canada West right now, we know that UBC is, as always, very good. As for our known unknowns, the prognosis on the rest of the assumed contenders (Saskatchewan, TWU, UVic, Calgary) is still in the air as they start the season with relatively tough schedules. And as for the unknown unknowns? Well that's why they play the games, isn't it?

1. UBC Thunderbirds (3–1)

Friday: W, 91–69 @ Trinity Western
Saturday: W, 90–77 @ Trinity Western
Last week: #1

Must be nice for the 'Birds to be done with the toughest part of their schedule by Halloween, and with a 3–1 record to boot. A road series against TWU that had the potential for difficulty turned out to be a breeze, with two victories that were wrapped up by the fourth quarter. Even more important for UBC: in transfer Doug Plumb (31 points in the two games), they now have a secondary scorer who can provide consisten offense inside and outside, something they haven't had in a few years.

2. Saskatchewan Huskies (2–2)

Friday: W, 95–81 vs. UVic
Saturday: L, 67–78 vs. UVic
Last Week: #3

A question for me, CIS coaches, and anyone else who tries to arbitrarily rank teams week after week is how much "benefit of the doubt" bonus points to give allegedly good teams with tough opening schedules. In the Huskies' case, while .500 basketball against UVic and UBC isn't bad, they're here because you get credit for being defending champions, they've beaten UBC, and Jamelle Barrett, with 51 points over the weekend, will give this team a puncher's chance most nights.

3. Victoria Vikes (2–2)
Friday: L, 81–95 @ Sask.
Saturday: W, 78–67 @ Sask.
Last Week: #5

Yes, Victoria has not looked great thus far (43.8% shooting percentage) on offense, but they've notched victories over Calgary and Saskatchewan, which is more than any of the three undefeated teams (Manitoba, Alberta, and Regina) have done, so for now, we salute the fact that the Vikes can grind out victories over quality opponents despite lacking a star player—Ryan MacKinnon leads the team with 12.8 points per game.

4. Trinity Western Spartans (2–2)
Friday: L, 69–91 vs. UBC
Saturday: L, 77–90 vs. UBC
Last Week: #2

Yes, it was just two games to a skilled team, but we can't help but notice that the Spartans, two weeks in, are doing an encore performance of last year. Blow out the bad teams, fail to show up (39% shooting isn't going to cut it) against the good teams. There's talent here, but will it show up against a ranked team?

5. Alberta Golden Bears (2–0)

Friday: W, 66–57 @ TRU
Saturday: W, 87–60 @ TRU
Last Week: #8

Alberta are the kings of the "Undefeated teams who have only faced bad teams" category this week, because in blowing out Thompson Rivers by a combined 36 points over last weekend, they have the highest points differential in the conference. Not good enough for you? How about the fact that Jordan Baker averaged 18.5 PPG/14.0 RBG/5.5 APG over the weekend? Those are scary good numbers, and whether he can continue that against more esteemed competition will do a lot to determine how good Alberta is this year.

6. Regina Cougars (2–0)
Friday: W, 103–77 vs. Brandon
Saturday: W, 76–75 vs. Brandon
Last Week: #9

One blowout victory, one closer-than-it-should-have-been victory (Regina led by 5-10 points for most of the second half), and doing it without Jared Janotta and Jeff Lukomski—both on loan to the football team—means that Regina is looking pretty good heading into this weekend's tilt with Lethbridge.

7. Calgary Dinos (2–2)
Friday: L, 79–80 vs. Lethbridge
Saturday: W, 99–70 vs. Lethbridge
Last Week: #4

Down a slightly humiliating 24–44 at halftime in their home opener, Calgary managed to come back over the second half, only to give up a wide-open three-pointer with one second left to lose by a single point to the Pronghorns, nobody's idea of world-beater. Still, they rebounded the next night, and with Andrew McGuinness giving them something of an outside presence (15.8 PPG), they're still a team to be reckoned with. But great teams don't lose games like that.

8. Manitoba Bisons (3–0)
Friday: W, 72–71 @ UFV
Saturday: W, 83–80 @ UFV
Last Week: #10

Exhibition wins over Brock and McMaster. A season-opening victory against Winnipeg. And now, a pair of last-minute wins against the University of the Fraser Valley. There's nothing yet to suggest that the Bisons can beat good teams when it matters, but they can beat bad teams when it counts, and that might be able to eke them into playoff contention by the year's end.

9. Brandon Bobcats (2–2)
Friday: L, 77–103 @ Regina
Saturday: L, 75–76 @ Regina
Last Week: #6

Is it unfair to say nothing substantive about a .500 team that's won two close games, lost one close game, and been blown out? Because I've got nothing.

10. Lethbridge Pronghorns (1–3)
Friday: W, 80–79 @ Calgary
Saturday: L, 70–99 @ Calgary
Last Week: #T11

A last-second victory over a provincial rival is nice, especially when it comes at the end of a 20-point comeback, but when you've lost your other games by 37, 16 and 29 points, it's important to keep it context. Still, the Pronghorns have a bit of a breather this weekend against Regina, and it could be worse! They could be this team...

11. Fraser Valley Cascades

Friday: L, 71–72 vs. Manitoba
Saturday: L, 80–83 @ Manitoba
Last Week: #7

Or this team...

12. Winnipeg Wesman (1–3)
Last Week: #T11

Or even...

13. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (0-4)
Friday: L, 57–66 vs. Alberta
Saturday: L, 60–87 @ Alberta
Last Week: #T11

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1 comment:

  1. Um... Calgary was DOWN 44-24 at the halftime, not UP. They didn't decombust over the second half, they actually woke up and played. That they lost by only 1 was impressive. That they were down 20 at the half necessitating a comeback was much less so.