Thursday, March 08, 2012

Here's our capsule preview for each of the Final 8 teams, presented in descending order of how likely that team is to win, per our odds based on RPI and SRS. "Top-100 players" refers to our player rankings. Players marked with * or ** were first- or second-team conference all-stars and awards listed are conference awards ("conference" meaning OUA East/West in the case of Ontario; someone needs to tell them they're both in OUA). "Bracketology consensus" refers to the majority opinion for this team's seeding in our last Bracketology post. "Notable Four Factors" highlights any of the Four Factors that place this team near the top or bottom of CIS.


1. Carleton Ravens
RPI / SRS: 1st / +27.1
Odds of winning: 47.5%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Phillip Scrubb* (1, MVP), Tyson Hinz* (12), Willy Manigat** (28), Elliot Thompson** (30), Thomas Scrubb (58), Kevin Churchill (63), Cole Hobin (defensive player of the year)
How they got here: By driving 160 km/h on the Domination Highway
Bracketology consensus: 1st
Last year: OUA runner-up and No. 2 seed; 24.6% chance of winning; won tournament.
From the fall: "Therefore, the burning question that we have for this Raven squad is: what can’t they do?"
Notable Four Factors: Lead the country in shooting and in rebounding (on both teams' glass).
Quick outlook: Even money to win it all sounds about right. Favoured by maybe 14 against Acadia, though I'm not too sure on that.



2. Alberta Golden Bears
RPI / SRS: 3rd / +12.2
Odds of winning: 17.7%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Jordan Baker* (5), Daniel Ferguson** (11)
How they got here: A pair of double-digit wins over last year's No. 1 seed (UBC), a semifinal win over this year's conference No. 1 (Saskatchewan) and a 72-71 squeaker over Fraser Valley in the CW final.
Bracketology consensus: 2nd
Last year: Did not qualify.
From the fall: "With last year's trip to the [Canada West] final four under their belts and another year to establish their skills, Alberta has to be considered one of the elite teams in the country this year."
Notable Four Factors: Can get into foul trouble.
Quick outlook: Have a great chance to be playing for a championship, but maybe not a good chance of winning it. Favoured by 20 against Ryerson.



6. St. Francis Xavier X-Men
RPI / SRS: 4th / +9.6
Odds of winning: 9.7%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Terry Thomas* (8), Jeremy Dunn** (75)
How they got here: Finished first in AUS, then won their semifinal against CBU to advance. Lost to Acadia in AUS final.
Bracketology consensus: 6th, but we were all over the place on them.
Last year: Did not qualify. Lost AUS semifinal.
From the fall: "[They'll] be around in the top-10 all year."
Notable Four Factors: Shoot only 47.5% (effective field-goal percentage) and don't get to the line as much as others.
Quick outlook: A six seed is third-most likely to win? Goes to Kevin Garbuio's (and others') point about the seedings. 7-point favourites on Friday.



5. Fraser Valley Cascades
RPI / SRS: 6th / +8.0
Odds of winning: 7.7%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Joel Friesen* (29), Kyle Grewal (42), Samuel Freeman (65), Jasper Moedt (87)
How they got here: Needed three games to eliminate Lethbridge, then beat UVic at the last second to advance to first Canada West final in school's history
Bracketology consensus: 4th
Last year: Did not qualify. First Final 8.
From the fall: "The step up from mediocrity to contention isn't easy out West, with a whole lot of teams to go over before reaching the top of the mountain. But that first step always needs to be taken, and the Cascades have a good chance to do it this year."
Notable Four Factors: Shoot only 47.5% (effective field-goal percentage) and don't get to the line as much as others.
Quick outlook: Very slight favourites against the Thunderwolves, but probably need to cheer for Acadia to advance beyond that.



3. Concordia Stingers
RPI / SRS: 8th / +5.4
Odds of winning: 6.4%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Evens Laroche* (70, MVP), Kyle Desmarais** (86), John Dore (coach of the year)
How they got here: 66-65 win over Laval in RSEQ semifinal, 77-47 over UQAM in final
Bracketology consensus: 5th
Last year: RSEQ champion and No. 7 seed; 3.5% chance of winning, lost 73-66 to Carleton in quarterfinals
From the fall: "They have Kyle Desmarais and it's the QUBL. They'll win."
Notable Four Factors: Three of the worst seven shooting teams in CIS are in RSEQ, and the Stingers were one of those three; they also turned it over quite a bit given their competition.
Quick outlook: 7-point underdogs on Friday. Their favourable draw gives them a better or similar chance to all the teams on Carleton's side of the draw, but an "upset" looms with the X-Men.



4. Lakehead GGOD[T]s
RPI / SRS: 5th / +11.9
Odds of winning: 5.8%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Venzal Russell* (43, MVP), Ryan Thomson (46), Greg Carter** (47, defensive player of the year), Benjamin Johnson** (83), Scott Morrison (coach of the year)
How they got here: Well...
Bracketology consensus: 3rd or 6th, or not at all.
Last year: OUA champion and No. 4 seed; 8.0% chance of winning, lost 82-74 to silver medallist TWU in quarterfinals.
From the fall: "The Thunderwolves are a team built to win the OUA West and with so many seniors likely to graduate after this year, anything less than a division championship and a Wilson Cup appearance will be seen as not good enough."
Notable Four Factors: Like the X-Men, they shoot relatively often but don't draw fouls as much.
Quick outlook: Their shooting may suffer without the injured Thomson ("nowhere to be seen on Wednesday") but Lakehead-UFV looks to be the closest quarterfinal of the tournament.



8. Acadia Axemen
RPI / SRS: 13th / +5.9
Odds of winning: 3.9%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Owen Klassen* (34, defensive player of the year), Anthony Sears** (66), Sean Stoqua (68), Anthony Ashe (92)
How they got here: AUS champions
Bracketology consensus: 8th
Last year: No. 8 seed; 1.1% chance of winning; lost quarterfinal to UBC 96-77
Notable Four Factors: Second-best shooting team at this tournament, and above-average defensively in that area as well; not the biggest rebounding team, though, which is going to hurt them on Friday greatly.
Quick outlook: Well, you can guess.


7. Ryerson Rams
RPI / SRS: 15th / +0.2
Odds of winning: 1.2%
Top-100 players and award-winners: Jahmal Jones* (10), Jordon Gauthier** (24), Aaron Best (72)
How they got here: Finished second in OUA East and took apart Lakehead in the OUA crossover semifinal
Bracketology consensus: 7th
Last year: Did not qualify. First Final 8 since 1999, and only their second ever.
From the fall: "If the youth movement continues to gain experience for coach Roy Rana, Ryerson could be on its way up again."
Notable Four Factors: Allowed opponents (most of whom were OUA East teams) to shoot an effective 49%, nearly three points higher than anyone else here and nearly six higher than their first-round opponents
Quick outlook: Will need to overcome another double-digit point spread to advance.

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