With the playoffs underway, the CIS top-10 picture has started to change a little bit. This week, we'll look at how each conference's playoffs or playoff chase went for the nation's best teams.
(Latest CIS top 10; RPI rankings)
NO. 1 CARLETON RAVENS (22-0 OUA, 1-0 playoffs, 2nd in RPI)
Their first game after an undefeated regular season could have easily turned into a trap game, especially against a Ryerson team that had won its first playoff contest in a very long time. But the Ravens have learned to change their expectations away from just the win-loss column, and you get the feeling this team is hungry for perfection, coming up with a 97-73 win. Says Cole Hobin, the team's defensive stopper, "We let a not-very talented team score 73 points." Disses to the Ryersons aside, that says a lot about a team that's used to winning.
Outlook: Will play Laurier in the first round of the OUA Final Four. What makes Laurier a dangerous team is their versatility of athletes and playmakers. Fortunately for Ravens fans, about the only team that does that better is Carleton.
NO. 6 LAKEHEAD THUNDERWOLVES (17-5 OUA, 1-0 playoffs, 7th in RPI)
Defeated the scrappy Western Mustangs, who had beaten Lakehead just a week prior. Looks like it was a pretty crappy shooting game, er, scrappy defensive battle. The Thunderwolves shot just 35 per cent, but held the 'Stangs to 28 per cent, and both squads combined to go 8-for-47 from beyond the arc.
Outlook: A battle with the resurgent Ottawa Gee-Gees awaits. Both squads are very athletic, and the question for Lakehead will be whether their athletes can make enough real basketball plays to out-execute Ottawa.
NO. 9 WINDSOR LANCERS (16-6 OUA, 0-1 playoffs, 11th in RPI)
I don't think this is how Isaac Kuon, Andre Smyth and Monty Hardware envisioned their CIS careers ending. And terrible puns aside (I know, from me of all people), this article does a good job showing the disbelief Kuon and co. will have at not continuing in the OUA playoffs - much less making it back to the Final 8.
NO. 2 UBC THUNDERBIRDS (22-2 CW, 2-0 playoffs, 3rd in RPI)
Advanced pretty easily, as expected, over the Manitoba Bisons and locked up home court advantage for the Canada West Final Four.
Outlook: The 'Birds will take on Alberta at home, where they went 12-1 at home over the regular season. The only loss? A one-point loss in October to Saskatchewan, who can meet with UBC in the final.
NO. 3 SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES (20-4 CW, 2-0 playoffs, 4th in RPI)
Got away with a pretty standard sweep of Regina, including a 31-15 third quarter run to run away from what was a close game two. It doesn't look like, as per usual, the opposition had an answer for Jamelle Barrett and Rejean Chabot, who combined for 106 points in the two games.
Outlook: Is an epic duel, a la the one in January, in store for the Huskies-Spartans matchup that awaits? Any fan of CIS basketball hopes so.
NO. 4 TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (22-3 CW, 2-1 playoffs, 10th in RPI)
Did anyone give UFV a chance against the Spartans? Probably not, and rightfully so. But not so fast, the Cascades said, as they won game one of the best-of-three series thanks to an absurd 15-0 run to end the game. TWU responded strong in the next two games, taking down the energized UFV squad thanks to a classic/dominant Jacob Doerksen performance in game three.
Outlook: It's easy to find fault in the Spartans for putting up a weak performance in game on. But with the regular blowouts they (along with Saskatchewan and UBC) come up with, one gets the feeling a little fresh playoff experience under pressure might help them in the next round.
Note: The AUS playoffs begin this Friday.
NO. 5 CAPE BRETON CAPERS (19-1 AUS, 1st in RPI)
Pulled away scrappy efforts by UPEI 79-70 and UNB 74-67 while sitting many of their starters, having already locked up the top seed in the AUS tournament.
Outlook: They won't know who they'll play until Friday's matchups hash themselves out, but a season of hard work has gone into making sure everyone knows the boys in orange are the team to beat out east.
NO. 6 ST. FX X-MEN (15-5 AUS, 5th in RPI)
Exploded for 114 points in a blowout of Memorial, then came up with a blowout again over UPEI.
Outlook: Does any team have more of a chip on their shoulder than X? A preseason favourite, they lost more games they weren't supposed to lose than any other contender. I know everyone's been saying this all year, but an angry, deep team with a ton of veterans is something nobody wants to play against. Saint Mary's may find that out the hard way this Friday.
NO. 9 DALHOUSIE TIGERS (14-6 AUS, 6th in RPI)
Overcame a late comeback by SMU to close the regular season with a 78-72 win.
Outlook: Like CBU, they've got to wait to see who they play. And like CBU, they've gotten better as the season's gone on.
Note: The QUBL playoffs begin this Tuesday.
NO. 10 CONCORDIA STINGERS (12-4 QUBL, 8th in RPI)
Struggled to pull away from the lowly Bishop's Gaiters, managing an 89-85 win.
Outlook: I'd like to make some insight about the Q playoffs. But the way the season's gone, I think it's going to be as volatile a playoffs as it has been a regular season. We'll see when the Stingers take on UQAM on Tuesday.