At first glance, Laval stands a goodly chance of sailing through the RSEQ and getting the No. 1 seed, as it tries to end a record 0-for-17 history at nationals. Ontario, which has three weeks left in its regular season and Canada West, which has two to go, each have about a half-dozen teams capable of going to nationals.
Those advancing get to begin March break in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. It's a hard-knock life.
The framing of the bracket depends on how far Victoria (eighth in RPI in Canada West, sixth with an 11-5 conference record) goes in the playoffs.Tournament passes now on sale for the @USPORTSca Final 8. Get 25% off until Feb. 15 @ https://t.co/PtiNZEA1S4 #vikesnationunite pic.twitter.com/aCebLTLGt4— UVic Vikes (@uvicvikes) February 1, 2017
The Vikes are 1-6 against teams ahead of them in RPI, although they did stretch UBC to double overtime in overtime. The tournament host finishes off the regular season at Fraser Valley and home to Winnipeg.
Again, it's very early.
- Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champion): Hey, research! Laval has more national tournament appearances (17) than any team which has never won. There is your narrative for nationals.
- Regina Cougars (Canada West champion): I ran through essentially all of the realistic scenarios to see if there is any chance of Saskatchewan not finishing first. Basically, the Huskies can hang on to it even if they get swept by Alberta; they just have to TCB at UNBC on the final weekend.
Almost all the scenarios project Saskatchewan first, Regina second, Winnipeg third and Alberta fourth. The U of R has the coaches' poll seal of approval.
- Queen's Golden Gaels (OUA champion): Default pick since the Gaels are in first in OUA RPI and could hold on to it even if they have a split weekend against Carleton and Ottawa on the Feb. 10-11 weekend. That conference is very much up for grabs. Carleton has their powerful post, Heather Lindsay, but Queen's has five interior players 6-foot or taller that coach Dave Wilson uses in rotation.
The Gaels lead OUA in offensive rebounding and steals, and also attempt more free throws than anyone else. Those extra possessions make a difference at the end of games.
- Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West runner-up): The defending champions have an inside track on hosting the Canada West Final Four.
- Cape Breton Capers (AUS champion): Only two conference losses by a combined 10 points.
- Winnipeg Wesmen (at-large berth): Remember, they won twice on Saskatchewan's floor earlier in the season. This weekend will be a gauge of whether they are for real.
- Carleton Ravens (OUA runner-up): McMaster and Carleton, respectively, are 2-3 in the OUA RPI. Carleton defeated McMaster 77-51 at home when they played on the first weekend on December, just before the exam break. Home court and timing have some ineffable effect, though. It should be closer if they end up playing again on a neutral floor on the first weekend of March.
- Victoria Vikes (host): No. 1 seed against the host team in the late quarter-final on the west coach? Those can be a lulu.