Men's Basketball: Upsets and underdogs dominate weekend

As everyone knows by now, this weekend's conference championship action saw plenty of upsets. While Canada West and the QUBL went more-or-less according the rankings, the OUA and AUS got their world rocked, having a no. 1 seed go down and two heavyweight contenders get knocked out off the picture altogether. Here's a look at the weekend's action from the least likely to most likely results, based on the team rankings entering the weekend.

AUS Semi-Final: Cape Breton 81, Acadia 83 in OT - 18% chance

Since their rise to becoming weekly top-10 members in late November, the Capers were more or less assumed to be one of the favourites not only to win the AUS title, but to make a run at the Final 8. After all, they only needed to beat a 7-13 in Acadia to get there. But behind dead-eye shooting Justin Boutilier and post presence Owen Klassen, the Axemen sent Cape Breton packing early.

OUA Final: Lakehead 77, Carleton 62 - 25% chance

Believe it or not, this one was probably a little more predictable than some of the other upsets this weekend. Anyone who's followed the Ravens closely over the past few weeks knows Dave Smart had been concerned about his relatively young team having a blowup game. He told me after Saturday's game his players started taking wins for granted down the stretch, and when Lakehead (and to a degree, Laurier a night earlier) put it to them, they were like deer in the headlights. Credit to Lakehead for playing a heck of a game to put pressure on the Ravens.

AUS Semi-Final: Dalhousie 79, St. FX 68 - 47% chance

This one, to a degree, validates the haters who have questioned X's place amongst the nation's elite all season. Questions came up about why coaches seemingly ranked the X-Men on their perceived explosiveness rather than their suspect results. Now, it's a moot point, as the hot-down-the-stretch Tigers did away with a foul-laden St. FX crew. Christian Upshaw, who went for 43 in the quarter-final, was nearly held scoreless in the second half. Ouch.

QUBL Semi-Final: McGill 75, Laval 85 - 53% chance

I think the odds on this one happening reflect how crazy a league the QUBL was this year. Five teams playing without a clear favourite for much of the campaign was fun to watch this year.

AUS Quarter-Final: UNB 61, Acadia 81 - 56% chance

Looking back, I don't think anyone should be too surprised about this one. Armed with a healthy Boutilier, Acadia obviously figured something out, and the Varsity Reds figured it out the hard way.

CW Semi-Final: Saskatchewan 80, Trinity Western 78 - 57% chance

As expected, this one was a heck of a barnburner. And unfortunately for Trinity, it was déja vu all over again as they squandered a chance to squash the Huskies, who pulled out a miracle win just as they had in January.

CW Third-place match: Alberta 74, Trinity Western 82 - 59% chance

This was a must-have win for the Spartans, who were able to earn their way to Halifax thanks to a comeback win over the Golden Bears. It was good enough to convince the selection committee to take the country's no. 4 team in Trinity over the semi-final flunkies at Cape Breton and St. Fx. Given the AUS teams were passed over, however, is it fair to say the Spartans might have the most hostile crowd at the Halifax Metro Centre this weekend?

CW Final: Saskatchewan 100, UBC 107 - 60% chance

Holy fifth-years, batman. It's a bit of a cliché to refer to senior players leading their teams to victory in the heat of playoff battle, one I'm guilty of using all the time. But this game was a shining example of why it's so common, as senior guards Josh Whyte, Nathan Yu and Alex Murphy teamed up to outduel the Sasky duo of Jamelle Barrett and Rejean Chabot. Now they'll have a chance next week to avenge back-to-back losses in the championship game.

Also, I love this photo. Great facial expressions.

OUA Semi-Final: Ottawa 69, Lakehead 71 - 65% chance

This has to go along with the Saskatchewan-Trinity game as two of the best conference semi-finals in recent memory. Nevermind the fact that it was nationally televised, this one was as good as it gets with a packed gym, a fiery comeback, great storylines and a wild finish. I'll remember Venzal Russell's game-winning jumper for a long time.

AUS Semi-Final: St. Mary's 93, St. FX 111 - 71% chance

111 in forty minutes of playoff action? I guess that's what a high pace factor will do for you, not to mention a duel between two of the nation's best scorers in Upshaw and Joey Haywood.

AUS Final: Acadia 47, Dalhousie 78 - 73% chance

I have to imagine this was a bit of a letdown for some folks, expecting Acadia's dream run to continue. I've also got to think they were gassed from a wild weekend of playing at a level well beyond anyone bothered to give them credit for. Acadia mustered just six points in the first quarter before falling away for good. Speaking of fifth year guys, Simon Farine's a pretty good one, as he led the Tigers with 24 points on the night.

CW Semi-Final: Alberta 73, UBC 91 - 74% chance

Apparently the Thunderbirds won this one by taking a charge early in the third quarter. That must have been one hell of a charge! Seriously though, doing stuff like that is what lets an undersized UBC team be as good as it is, and will come in pretty handy this weekend out east.

QUBL Semi-Final: UQAM 74, Concordia 89 - 75% chance

Even for the QUBL, this one was pretty easy to predict. Not many times does 5-10 beat 11-5, and with 23 turnovers, UQAM never had a chance.

OUA Semi-Final: Carleton 83, Laurier 76 - 78% chance

I really think Laurier played their best game of the year in this one, producing Carleton's smallest margin of victory to that point in the year in a game that was much closer than the score (not theScore) would indicate. Still, it would have taken more than they had to beat the Ravens, as the odds argue.
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  1. Can you please explain to me why the Semi-Finals and Finals are taped delayed on TSN2? Didn't we have this issue when we only had TSN, but now have both TSN & TSN2. What a shame to have it delayed!!!!!!!

  2. It is a shame. It's a symptom of a larger illness -- CIS' inability to market itself and be independent of host committees.

    Atlantic University Sport put up the largest guarantee to get the tournament and they want the tip at 5 p.m. local time Sunday. They refused to change it because they wanted as big a gate as possible.

    Can't fault TSN. If you check their website and the TSN2 schedule, they aren't showing any live sports on Saturday or Sunday night. Clearly they anticipated they would be able to give CIS some pub. However, greed and desperation scuttled that!

  3. The other reason is circumstantial. Last year, the tournament was the third weekend in March. This weekend it's the second with the women's tourney on the third weekend of the month. However, the Tim Hortons Brier is at a different place on the calendar, too, since it's not an Olympic year. Curling gets a better rating than CIS hoops.