Tuesday, February 07, 2012

With UFV's massive sweep of UBC and St. FX's continued struggles, we've seen a bit of a shakeup in this week's CIS top-10. Here's a look at who's on the move this week and what their prospects are like for the rest of the season:

(RPI, SRS and other relevant numbers here)

MOVING UP:

3. Saskatchewan Huskies (Up to no. 3 from no. 4)

The Huskies climb up this week to UBC's vacated no. 3 thanks to a pair of wins over Winnipeg. They've adjusted well to life without the injured Nolan Brudehl and should (keyword: should) be able to close out the season with three home wins over Manitoba (twice) and Regina. That would put them at 16-4 for the year and atop the Canada West Prairie standings.

Speaking of Brudehl, his replacement in the starting lineup, Matthew Forbes, has been quietly dependable since stepping into starter's minutes, shooting 58.3 per cent from the field in 23.4 minutes per contest.

Jamelle Barrett hasn't been as devastatingly productive as last year, but he's been consistent enough since finally overcoming a handful of nagging injuries. His averages of 20.1 points, 6.9 assists and 49.1 per cent shooting should have him in for consideration as Canada West Player of the Year once again.

4. Victoria Vikes (Up to no. 4 from no. 7)

The Vikes have risen to a season-high no. 4 despite three losses early in the new year, and it's hard to make the case that there are more than three better teams across the country. They've only lost to a non-top-10 team once this season and have been a fairly stout defensive team since the season tipped off in November, capped off with their defensive domination of UBC Okanagan on the weekend.

With a home-and-home matchup with UBC this weekend, Vikes could clinch their first Pacific division title since 2004, as well as the best record in all of Canada West.

5. UFV Cascades (Up to no. 5 from no. 8)

Coach Barnaby Craddock feels like the Cascades' "chemistry is improving with each game." Of course, sweeping the team that usually mops the floor with you in a huge turnaround season will do that for your chemistry. There's next to nothing on the UFV site, so correct me if I'm wrong, internets, but I believe no. 5 is an all-time high for the Cascades program.


GOING DOWN:

6. Laurier Golden Hawks (Down to no. 6 from no. 5)

Maybe this loss to McMaster is a good thing for the Hawks. They've been riding high all season, having given Carleton one of its closest calls, beating Lakehead once and dismissing the rival Windsor Lancers.

Then this weekend, they got complacent with a halftime lead over McMaster and their offensive playbook turned into that of my grade 10 house league team. Max Allin, who has been great all season, really struggled with shot selection, and if Laurier's going to be good, he's got to be great.

With coach Peter Campbell calling this the first time the Hawks didn't believe in themselves, this might be perfect timing for Laurier to get a wakeup call and turn things around.

7. UBC Thunderbirds (Down to no. 7 from no. 3)

I think dropping four spots might have been a little harsh, but aside from Nathan Yu, the Thunderbirds looked pretty bad this weekend. Coach Kevin Hanson said their rebounding was "atrocious," and he wasn't exaggerating - the 'Birds were outrebounded 92-60 for the weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning, however, is that Hanson said the team is going to "live and die by what he does," just under a month ago. When the guy you 'live and die by' scores 51 points over two weekends and you still lose, you've go to be at least in a little bit of trouble.

STAYING PUT: No. 1 Carleton, no. 2 Lakehead, no. 3 Saskatchewan, no. 9 Concordia, no. 10 Alberta

THE "UPPER DECK" TOP 10:

1. Carleton: This one isn't even close.
2. Lakehead: Haven't played terribly consistent basketball, but even when they do, they're so tough to beat.
3. Saskatchewan: The best team out west since mid-January.
4. Victoria: This is where the SRS has them. I'm not going to disagree.
5. UFV: Two huge wins over UBC can't be ignored.
6. UBC: Their margin of victory in wins has to be worth something.
7. Laurier: Their hiccup against McMaster was really their first of the season.
8. Concordia: Nothing if not consistent.
9. Alberta: No. 5 in the RPI, no. 7 in the SRS, no. 9 in the most official ranking of all: mine. Ahem.
t-10. McMaster and UPEI: Two teams that have been overlooked in favour of overrated conference opponents.


The "Ben Johnson" line of the week: Carleton's Phil Scrubb: 9/15, 30 points, 8/11 3PT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK vs. Ottawa

The "hate to see that, folks" line to forget of the week: Brock's Jay Fleming took 10 shots against Western. He made none.

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