By now, astute fans of our Canadian university basketball have the gist of men's CIS Final 8 seeding. Conference champs cannot be seeded lower than No. 6, even if they were unranked before getting hot for two games at the RSEQ Final Four or for three in the AUS Final 6. Matchups of teams from the same conference are allowable; after all Ryerson and Windsor met in the 7 vs. 2 quarter-final last season.
This exercise assumes no upsets, so here's a first crack at Nate Silver-ing the seeding for five weeks from now:
- Ryerson (OUA champion) — The Rams project for top spot in the OUA RPI and the home-floor advantage throughout the Wilson Cup playoffs. They will be awfully tough in that environment, especially now that the RU community has really come down with Rams Fever.
- Ottawa (OUA runner-up) — Some shine probably came off Ottawa with that split weekend against the Central's 1-2 punch. Overall, James Derouin's crew is 23-4 in CIS play with the fourth-toughest strength of schedule among the 47 hooping schools.
- Calgary (Canada West champion) — Form pick from a fellow who is only following C-Dub from afar. There should be no way the conference's champion, or best team, gets in ahead of the OUA's two best if the Eastern bastards don't have any true upsets in the early rounds.
- McGill (RSEQ champion) — David DeAviero's Redmen will complete a cycle of road wins against the other four Q schools if they defeat Laval on Friday. McGill has only three league games left before the RSEQ Final Four. They go nine deep and that Ottawa win, even if was in October, left a powerful impression.
- UBC (host) — Ah, there is the rub: a tournament in Vancouver will need some local interest to have any hope of getting traction the way the 2015 nationals did in Toronto. And, even then, it might only go so far. That is why it figures that the Thunderbirds, albeit a "graduation-depleted" iteration with only three seasoned rotational players as per Howard Tsumura, slide into a 5 seed against a team that will be three time zones from home.
That means McGill, or whoever wins the Q, would be tipping off at 11 p.m. Eastern on March 16. Of course, Montreal's not really a late-night town.
- Dalhousie (AUS champion) — Never take anything for granted with the AUS, since that first-round bye for the top two finishers seems to be a double-edged gift quite often. Dal is defending champ, so they are the default choice. Selfishly, it would be fine if Javon Masters and UNB, who have played a tough schedule are a high-scoring team, somehow got hot in the playoffs.
Over at CANHoops, there is a little kerfuffle over a wholly factual post about how many more fouls are whistled on visiting teams than on the UPEI Panthers during games in Charlottetown, going back across the last few seasons. For example, the Panthers, not that they haven't had full agency in their turnaround, have come out ahead in the fouls in 33 of their last 39 AUS games in Charlottetown.
One wonders how many of the Panthers fans carping about the article also had occasion to read Wayne Kondro's examination of the lack of training and travel support for Canadian basketball officials. Kondro noted, "Games in PEI, for example, will never be called by officials from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Newfoundland & Labrador." Please understand highlighting that isn't meant to impugn anyone, but it's a reality there are probably only so many university basketball refs on Prince Edward Island." In other words, a nationwide problem might be particularly acute in that case.
Of course, by the time that gets fixed, we'll have also have reversed climate change. Memorial University's definition of an assist will still be wonky, though.
Anyhow, the AUS might be a four- or five-team derby come the first weekend of March. That very much includes UPEI, and generally if you have no skin in the game, selfishly root for a team that has gone the longest without a nationals visit. The Panthers last went in 2003.
- McMaster (at large; OUA bronze medal) — Martin Timmerman's what-if tool, my new favourite toy, suggests the Marauders and Carleton Ravens might be on a collision course for an OUA quarter-final at the Ravens' Nest on Sat., Mar. 5. Presuming no outliers or WTF one-off upsets, Ryerson, Ottawa and Carleton would be seeded 1, 2 and 3 for the Wilson Cup playoffs. Brock and Windsor would slide into the 4-5 slots, with Mac at No. 6.
The rub with Carleton, who did look better last weekend, is that aside from that win against very young and very thin Brock, 75 points seems to be their plateau against high-quality competition. They have a lot of say over whether a game will go into the 80s, of course, but McMaster plays fast and pushes the pace. Just saying.
In any event, the wild card is coming from Ontario, again. Sorry, not sorry.
- Manitoba (Canada West auto berth) — The Bisons are tied with UBC for the second-best 'last 10' record at 8-2, finishing 15-5 overall. They will have two weeks before hosting a best-of-3 quarter-final, meaning AJ Basi, Keith Omoerah and everyone else should have plenty of juice in their legs to play three games in as many days if that's what asked of them.
With UBC hosting nationals, the Canada West bronze-medal game is potentially a play-in game for the 7 or 8 seed.