That is reflected in the seeding for the University Cup, now in its second year as an eight-team saw-off. It is so straightforward. Win a conference, you're top three, with the OUA runner-up fourth. Everything else flows from there:
Part of the point of this exercise is to foment discussion, and try to make sure people have an accurate understanding of how the pie is made. It's not so important to be accurate in predicting who is going to win. It's good to go out on a limb but at the same time, it's better to be pleasantly surprised.
Few of you likely need any reminder the draw consists of all six conference finalists, plus the OUA bronze-medal game winner and the host Saint Mary's Huskies. Upper Canada gets the third team since it and Lower Canada are one conference for men's hockey. Would that they were for basketball, but wait until next week's Wishful Thinking Wednesday column.
Based on the criteria, if the University Cup was starting Saturday instead of March 17-20 at the Arena Formerly Known As the Halifax Metro Centre, it would look like this:
- UNB Varsity Reds — Gardiner MacDougall's guys have home-ice advantage for a best-of-3 AUS final against St. Francis Xavier. The Varsity Reds won 3-of-4 against the X-Men, including two in overtime. This is very much penciled in, not penned.
- Trois-Rivières Patriotes — UQTR had 140 points in the poll to Saskatchewan's 126's last week, so at this point this puts them ahead of the U of S. However, that's just a sop to consistency. If Saskatchewan, which beat Alberta 4-0 to begin the best-of-3 Canada West final, should finish the job, that might get them enough second-place votes over the final two ballots.
- Saskatchewan Huskies — To reiterate, sweeping Alberta would probably make some voters less hesitant to put the Huskies second.
- Western Mustangs — The OUA runner-up gets the 4 seed. Western leads Guelph 1-0 in the OUA final. Neither team was anywhere near the top 10 until ranked teams began to fall by the wayside in the deeper divisions and leagues. The East is a much stronger half than the West.
- Alberta Golden Bears — Still U of A, and anything could happen.
- St. Francis Xavier X-Men — So what if they pull the upset against UNB, hypothetically speaking? The first-place votes could be split madly in all directions.
- Saint Mary's Huskies — Carleton would deserve the higher seeding, but SMU would be flipped with them to avoid a same-conference quarter-final against UNB. One can already hear a hue and cry from the Ottawa legacy media if the Ravens are No. 8 after a stellar season which included taking out McGill, but those are the rules, and it helps to read them. In the short run, their best chance to do something is against Trois-Rivières, which leads the East final 1-0.
- Carleton Ravens — It is commendable that the East has become a competitive half of OUA men's hockey. The conference has more separation and always will since it has 20 teams instead of eight. Carleton under Marty Johnston is an insurgent against Quebec's two strongholds, and the UOIT Ridgebacks are getting stronger by the year. Whether it is still Johnston as coach in the long run, this is a program on the upswing and has been since Fred Parker got it off the ground 10 years ago.
It's probably a bad read of the room to say now UOIT needs to avoid finishing fourth and having to play Trois-Rivières. They just busted ass to finish fourth and have the extra home game against Queen's, which came in handy.