Now, if Laval loses ... Bronze Baby Bracketology, 4 weeks out

Fun one to do this week, with a Top 5 tilt in eastern Ontario and the split series in Canada West last weekend (Winnipeg at Regina and Saskatchewan at Alberta).

The debate over the at-large berth ... the large conferences each seem to have a fairly definitive Big 3 (Queen's, Carleton, McMaster in Ontario and Regina, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan) in Canada West. The at-large likely goes to one of the third-place teams. Of course, if Laval gets upset in the RSEQ final, both are SOL.

  1. Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champion): While Final 8 "[s]eeding is defined as reflecting current strength of the 8 teams," the reality might be that Laval just has to win six more games against familiar competition to secure top spot. Winning two of three against the OUA's upper crust during conference play (and the defeat against Carleton was by a four-point margin on Oct. 1) might assuage doubts that they're just running roughshod against a small conference.

    Each of Guillaume Giroux's group's losses were in one-off road games where they had rust to play off. The point here is that while who is the best team going into nationals is always subjective, Laval at this point has the body of work, albeit inside the bubble of a five-team conference (and a 6-1 record against Upper Canada).
  2. Queen's Golden Gaels (OUA champion): This is based on the work done to this point, not on what might happen early evening when Carleton and Queen's meet in the biggest basketball game in the 8½-season history of the ARC.

    One could be withering about this week's top 10, with McMaster ranked No. 2 and Queen's No. 3 in spite of their road win on Mac's court. Is "well that wasn't supposed to happen" the basis for every decision now?
  3. Regina Cougars (Canada West champion): Projected final RPI for Canada West, if the higher-ranked teams all win out on a final weekend:

    Winnipeg makes the long trip for two games at Victoria. A split there, assuming the chalk picks win everywhere else, vaults Alberta over Winnipeg:

    Hence the sinking feeling / sneaking suspicion that Winnipeg might be the best team but the system might not work out in their favour. Hey, just like the Electoral College, it's only a problem after it screws you over! The Wesmen have won 3-of-4 against the Cougars and Huskies although their defeat had the largest margin of any of those games, as they took an 83-67 defeat last Friday.
  4. Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West runner-up): Inside track on hosting Canada West final four, yadda-yadda-yadda, I mentioned the bisque. They could potentially get Alberta in a play-in game and they beat the Pandas on the road last week.
  5. Carleton Ravens (OUA runner-up): For grins, I kicked out some RPI jams. It turns out there is a mathematical possibility that Queen's could win Friday, drop its last two against Ottawa and York and still end up first.

    Carleton gets the nod over McMaster as the second OUA team since they won 77-51 on Dec. 3.
  6. Cape Breton Capers (AUS champion): I pumped their tires and then they got pumped by Acadia (96-75 and 78-69). One phenomena that seems peculiar to AUS is that the teams in fifth, sixth or seventh have a lot more fire in the belly around early February, so seeing first-place teams get knocked off isn't stunning.

    The downside of parity can come at seeding time, so sliding the AUS champion below the runners-up from Ontario and the West is justifiable. Maybe the conference is in a post-Justine Colley tranquil period.
  7. Winnipeg Wesmen (at-large berth): Blog favourite Antoinette Miller outscored Regina standout Kyanna Giles 19-2 in the second half last Saturday, when the Wesmen rallied to gain a split of their series. That's called taking ownership.

    Winnipeg winning Canada West is plausible. Selfishly, though, this bracket has the alma maters of the entire 2003-04 Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic sports department going head-to-head.
  8. Victoria Vikes (host): Close out the regular season against a likely tournament team, which could help with being a tough out come March 9.
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