The following is the opinion of Andrew Bucholtz and not The CIS Blog, although it does fall into our long-standing tradition of complaining about basketball seedings. Still, just my thoughts on the subject.
As you can tell by our bracketology post, my thoughts on where the teams should go for the Final 8 are substantially different than those of most of our contributors. They’re also quite different from how the seedings wound up. Thus, I figured I should take the time to make my case for why I think the seeding committee got it wrong. To do that, we need to take a look at three different tables, presented below the jump in handy spreadsheet form.
As you can see from that, it's the top end where there's the major discrepancy between my picks and the actual seedings, which are much closer to the final Top 10 poll. Normally, I wouldn't have an issue with that; as my Bracketology picks from last week show, I didn't have any real problems with the way the poll ranked teams. The issue is that these current seedings opt for the poll (taken before this weekend's playoffs) over actual playoff results. The most egregious case of that is the decision to seed Carleton #2 and Lakehead #4 despite the Thunderwolves' emphatic 77-62 thumping of the Ravens in the OUA final last night, but the decision to put two non-champion Canada West teams ahead of the AUS champions is also interesting.
I get where the committee is coming from with this. Based on the large sample size of the regular season (reflected in the top-10 polls), Carleton's obviously a great team, and so are Saskatchewan and Trinity Western. Lakehead and Dalhousie were far less impressive over the course of the year, and thus were lightly regarded by the polls heading into this weekend. If the seedings are intended to reflect pure odds of winning the tournament, these are probably close to right on.
However, I philosophically disagree with that approach. The biggest problem with it is it trivializes the playoffs, and it encourages teams to coast once they have their nationals berth locked up. (They can't before that, as the Cape Breton Capers found out after being upset in the AUS semi-finals). For getting mauled by Lakehead, Carleton drops a grand total of one spot and still gets what should be a cakewalk of a matchup against lightly-regarded Concordia. Meanwhile, the Thunderwolves' victory is rewarded by a spot two below the team they just beat and a tough first-round match with Trinity Western; if they win there, their reward is likely a date with UBC, while the Ravens can't run into the T-Birds until the final. I don't think that's particularly fair.
For an example of how seeding based on playoff merit can work, look no further than the CIS men's volleyball tournament I've been covering all weekend. The Alberta Golden Bears turned in a great regular season and were ranked second going into the Canada West Final Four (which they hosted), but they flopped there, finishing fourth. Third-ranked Calgary won the CW playoffs, while lightly-regarded Brandon (seventh in the polls) took silver and Trinity Western took bronze. The seeding committee decided to go with the on-court results over the polls, putting the four CW entrants in order of how they did in the CW finals (Calgary at #1, Brandon at #3, Trinity at #4 and Alberta at #5), and that turned out to generally be an excellent decision; Calgary finished third, Brandon and TWU are playing for gold and Alberta claimed fifth.
Most importantly, though, that decision made the conference playoffs matter; Calgary and Brandon's showings were rewarded with easier paths at the nationals, while Alberta's lacklustre performance saw them given a tough road. That made the CW Final Four extremely important and interesting, and it rewarded teams for showing up in the big games. I would have liked to see something similar on the hoops side. Instead, the OUA final is completely invalidated, Lakehead and Dalhousie are punished for their inconsistent regular seasons rather than rewarded for their playoff performance, and Carleton gets a remarkably soft path to the final on the basis of their regular season. These aren't the worst Final 8 seedings that could have happened; they're consistent throughout and they avoid same-conference matchups in the first round (which happened in the past before they added a rule to stop it). They're just not ones I'm very happy with.