Basketball: Ryerson, Carleton, McGill 1-2-3 for men's Final 8, Calgary gets wild card

It is human nature to think there ought to be a way to solve something irksome without thinking of the practicalities of said way. That seems to be the subtext for the suggestion there was some great injustice with decision to award the at-large berth to Canada West bronze medallist Calgary instead of OUA bronze medallist Brock (as predicted).
The spur for doing this has always been to try to be a rational actor and give people an idea of how the Final 8 seeding rules work. Whether those rules are righteous or wrongheaded or whether the system goes too far in trying to quantify signature wins is a parallel conversation. Everyone agreed to play by these rules. You can say have play-in games, a Final 10, a Final 12, a Final 16 and say "what would the NCAA do?!" Given all the challenges U Sports faces both internally and externally, it might be better to play the pragmatist and appreciate that we still get to see eight teams spread out over nearly 6,000 kilometres still convene in Halifax for a national championship.

I say all of that, believe you me, knowing it is not for nothing the Louis CK clip open in another Chrome tab just got to the "you need to go once in a while, 'uh, I'm kind of an asshole' " part. The above paragraph probably comes off that way to a few people, but I am okay with that reaction.


End rant. These fellows said it better anyway:



Until such time that the gauntlet is picked up, here is what we have on tap at the arena forever known as the Halifax Metro Centre on Thursday:

  • No. 2 Carleton vs. No. 7 Calgary, 11 a.m. ET. The "never con a con artist" principle probably transfers over to any attempt to practise dollar-store sports psychology from a distance on a Dave Smart team. However, losing the No. 1 seed to Ryerson granted Carleton with two things it wanted. They tip off six hours earlier than Ryerson on Thursday and would be in the early semifinal on Saturday.

    The loss also helps Carleton snap to attention. In 2006, '07, '11, '14 and '16, they didn't win the OUA banner but went on to capture the W.P. McGee Trophy.
  • No. 3 McGill vs. No. 6 Manitoba, 1 p.m. ET. McGill us an .800 team (21-5) which won its conference without really seeing a formidable team in the playoffs and Alberta is a .700 team (24-10) that can de described similarly. That is why the Redmen rate the No. 3 seed. That and the need to avoid a same-conference matchup.
  • No. 1 Ryerson vs. No. 8 Saint Mary's, 5 p.m. ET. Calgary and Carleton have the highest combined scoring averages in any first-round matchup, but the potential for a 5-on-5 40-minute game of H-O-R-S-E probably resides in the day's third game. Ryerson is fourth at 86.2 points and Saint Mary's is fifth at 84.3.

    Ten years ago, also in Halifax, Saint Mary's was the No. 8 seed and upended Concordia in the quarter-final. No doubt SMU's history as a low seed -- they were No. 7 when they won in 1999 -- will form a convenient if dated narrative.

    In that vein, both Thursday evening sessions the last two years have involved an overtime game where the higher seed was on the ropes in the last half-minute of regulation time. Could it happen again?!
  • No. 4 Alberta vs. No. 5 Dalhousie, 7 p.m. ET. The Tigers have got away with some slow starts but probably cannot afford one against Alberta. The Golden Bears are too imposing.

Back to Brockgate for a second ... it is understandable why people expected the Badgers to get the wild card.

Ontario has had at least three teams in the tournament for five years in a row and 13 of the last 14. On reflection, one can see how that would have conditioned expectations that Brock was in line for a tournament ticket when it earned the OUA bronze medal by defeating Ottawa, who's been going to the Final 8 on the regular. We defeated you, so don't we become you now? 

At the same time, even if Ottawa had earned the OUA bronze, Calgary probably still gets picked.
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