Manitoba 79, UBC 75?
Honestly, stating last week "fifth-placed Manitoba is scrappy with A.J. Basi at point guard" was just ass-talking, but ass-talking is a skill its own right. The No. 2-ranked Thunderbirds now have to win three do-or-done games in a row -- two against the Bisons plus the auto-bid game at the Canada West final four -- to go into the Final 8 through the front door.
UBC took seven more shots than Manitoba and had five fewer turnovers, so it's not like they played badly. They just didn't hit enough threes (4-of-18) or sink their free throws (13-of-25).
Just to be prepared, let's imagine the Final 8 if the Thunderbirds faceplant. Which they're not going to do. Or so you would think. The picture changes a little:
- Carleton (OUA champion). Everyone else is still playing for the silver at the Final 8.
- Ryerson (OUA auto-bid). There is no quantifying, or underestimating, what it meant for the Rams to go up to Ottawa and take a W. It takes away a psychological barrier.
- Calgary (Canada West champion). One way to put the UBC loss in perspective is the fact only one of the bye teams in Canada West had a dominant Game 1 at home on Thursday, with Alberta defeating Lethbridge 80-59. Laying out for a week can be detrimental for a team's rhythm and timing.
- Ottawa (at large). Ten of 29 from the free-throw line? The Gee-Gees have been erratic from the stripe all season; they would still be last in OUA even if that performance was stricken from the record. The concern troll going forward is whether that inefficiency will seep into other areas of the game. Even if they had shot their average against Ryerson, that would have turned the six-point defeat into a win.
The Gee-Gees have kept eight of their last nine opponents to fewer than 75 points. It's hard to see them getting upset by Laurentian on Saturday.
- Dalhousie (AUS champion). Have made a quintessentially Rick Plato late regular-season run with seven consecutive wins to clinch first in the regular season early.
- McGill (RSEQ champion). Held Laval without a field goal for the final 6½ minutes on Thursday.
- Saskatchewan (Canada West auto-bid). Working on the theory that the Huskies got a shaky effort out of their system with a narrow escape against Winnipeg (85-84 after the Wesmen hit a window-dressing triple at the buzzer). They're talented, but 20 turnovers, ugh.
- Saint Mary's (host). True, Javon Masters and New Brunswick will have the bye to the AUS semifinal, but do you really want it? Saint Mary's also won by double-digits on UNB's floor on Jan. 27. I got burned pumping the Varsity Reds' tires last season.
If UBC wins out, they should have the No. 2 seed. The second team out of Ontario will be no lower than third, and that would effect a flip of the 7 and 8 seeds to avoid the same-conference quarter-final matchups.