The outcome that you should root for, if you're not imbued with Gee-Gee garnet or Ram blue, is for Ottawa to win the Wilson Cup on Ryerson's floor whilst the women's basketball Ryersonians do a turnabout is fair play deal to the Ottawans in the inaugural Critelli Cup final four. Otherwise, why did we do all this?
Oh, and good luck to everyone who has sweat equity in these championships. It's not bias to say you're rooting for a particular outcome, because you like a convoluted storyline that will confuse the non-followers. Journalism!
The W-Final 8 picture probably has not changed terribly much, apart from fifth-year forward Megan Cook going Megatron in the Grant MacEwan Griffins' Canada West quarter-final sweep of Victoria. Leading a team to its first playoff series victory in your final home games as a fifth-year, that is a great senior moment. It needs to be acknowledged like a Martin Prince-polished geode.
Saint Mary's is in, and the other five qualifiers will be determined Friday night, between the Quebec final and a pair of semifinals. There is not much reason to change from last week.
- McGill Martlets (RSEQ champion) — If they win, they are the top seed by virtue of a one-loss regular season. Likely the at-large berth in a championship-game upset scenario, since Ryan Thorne's team would be 21-3 overall. No other faint-hope wild-card hopeful will have fewer than five losses.
- Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West champion) — The U of S has home floor. What could go wrong?
- Saint Mary's Huskies (AUS champion)* — The Chronicle-Herald union-busting made for sparse coverage of the AUS championships. Thankfully, one of the finest reporters around, Kristen Lipscombe — Laurier hockey alumna! Herald alumna! Kingstonian! — was there to capture how SMU has had its fill of being a conference dynasty.
- Ryerson Rams (OUA champion) — Since it is Windsor-Ryerson on Friday in a go-to-nats game for Carly Clarke's Rams and Chantal Vallée's still-breathing five-time champion Lancers, it's behooving to back up 3½ months to their regular-season matchup.
Windsor took a 95-79 win that Wednesday night after the Rams maintained the three-quarter lead, before the Lancers had a 31-11 fourth. In hindsight, a fade is in tune with travelling down Hwy. 401 for a midweek game. Ryerson should have more rest and less travel this time around. The same cannot be said of Windsor going to Ottawa on back-to-back weekends.
Any two of the four, in either order, could likely emerge from OUA.
- Regina Cougars (Canada West runner-up) — Should get by MacEwan to seal their spot.
- Alberta Pandas (at large, Canada West bronze medal) — Time to deep dive into the selection criteria for the at-large berth, since those on the conference call will need at least three beers and their conversation hats. It could very well come down to "the tied team who
has the highest winning percentage vs. the Top 12 teams in the final RPI."
The best primer is to put the two Edmonton teams that are underdogs in Canada West Final Four (one more so than the other) and all four extent OUA teams into a table. The records reflect that each bronze-medal game winner will, of course, have a 1-1 weekend. The RPI is the overall RPI, and the SRS is the current one.
PW PL RPI Short SRS Alberta 22 6 0.604 1 16.55 MacEwan 20 6 0.558 1 7.44 McMaster 20 8 0.584 1 16.74 Ottawa 25 5 0.583 1 8.78 Ryerson 25 5 0.579 1 15.21 Windsor 20 10 0.571 1 9.55
Of course, only the bronze-medal game winners will be in consideration. There is an Alberta advantage going into the weekend.
- Ottawa Gee-Gees (OUA runner-up) — The table underlines the urgency for Ottawa to beat Mac, not that the Marauders have any less urgency. The grey team in from the city of 670,000 merely has a better wild-card case than the grey team from the city of 700,000.
It is hard to imagine the gritty Gees letting a berth go through their grasp at home, though.
- UNB Varsity Reds — The V-Reds might not be long for the championship side, but one has to say something nice. Kudos to coach Jeff Speedy for having a roster that is 50 per cent drawn from the province and 75% from Atlantic Canada.
Guilty as charged for harping on this when the budgetary ax has arced over women's hockey teams down east, but local and regional matters when talking about playing opportunities in CIS. Athletes are talented people, and need reasons to keep them in the region.
It is an apples/oranges comparison, of course, to contrast that with UNB men's hockey, which 20.8% New Brunswickans, and 33.3% from Atlantic Canada. That said, UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall cannot be begrudged how hard he was worked to build a national recruiting network. It's just about introducing that perspective.
(* Already determined.)