The Road To Halifax Stops At Carleton: Men's Basketball Bracketology; Did Manitoba Just Sneak UBC Into The Dance?

The red door at Jack Simpson Gym got painted Manitoba Bisons brown on Friday. The topper of what has been a riveting soirée of auto-bid games in roundball and rubber-disc alike was definitely Manitoba and Amirjit (A.J.) Basi upending Thomas Cooper and Calgary 74-72 for a Final 8 berth, earning the school's first tournament ticket in 31 seasons.
How long has it been since Manitoba was in the tournament? Let's see. The GPAC was still around. The school's hockey coach that season was Barry Trotz.

All coach Kerby Schepp's Bisons have done was defeat UBC and Calgary in their gyms. No big deal. Judging by Manitoba's 25 turnovers, it must not have been pretty on Friday, but they harried Cooper into a 6-of-24, 17-point night and shot an effective 57.5 per cent (25-of-53, 11 triples) to cancel out 25 turnovers.

If you like close games -- I mean really like -- then this is the stuff for you:
  • Ryerson, by the margin of fifth-year Adika Peter-McNeilly getting a last-second block on Brandon Robinson, defeated Ottawa 76-75 and will go to the tournament for the fourth time in six seasons.
  • Saint Mary's escaped 80-79 against St. Francis Xavier in an AUS quarter-final after league MVP Kevin Bercy missed a free throw with three seconds left.
What this all means? Sadly, for Ottawa, it probably means that that UBC or Calgary (if it wins the Canada West bronze game) is the wild card. Neither team got it done on its home floor, whereas Ottawa, as the No. 2 seed in OUA, had to try to win on a neutral site (yes, it was in the same city, but the Ravens' Nest is never going to be home turf for an Ottawa team).
The wild card might be UBC. It all depends on the definition of "cluster," since Brock, Calgary, Ottawa and Saskatchewan will be in the first cluster of teams that lost an auto-bid/play-in game. The second cluster consists of UBC and UBC alone, but the Thunderbirds grade out first in five out of the nine criteria.
  1. Regular-season conference record: UBC (Ottawa is second).
  2. Strength of schedule (RPI): Ottawa (UBC is fourth).
  3. Games vs. other teams under berth considerations or already qualified: UBC
  4. Record in non-conference games: UBC 
  5. Average Top 10 ranking after Nov. 15: UBC 
  6. Conference game record vs. teams with >.800 winning percentage: Saskatchewan
  7. Conference game record vs. teams with >.650 winning percentage: UBC
  8. Conference game record vs. teams with >.500 winning percentage: Calgary (UBC is second)
  9. Conference game record vs. teams with <.500 winning percentage: UBC and Ottawa (tied)
  10. Playoff performance: Obviously, UBC is last and arguably, the OUA bronze medallist is first.
Another way to present that is to show each team's ranking in each category in chart form, with the lowest total understandably being better. It all depends on how much UBC is dropped for not being a conference semifinalist.

Some of the rankings need to be split. Neither Calgary nor UBC faced an above-.800 team in regular-season play, while Calgary and Saskatchewan each went 3-4 against above-.650 competition.

Reg-sea.SOSTTN-CTop 10A800A650A500B500Playoffs*Total
Brock 424442445437

Saskatchewan defeating Calgary in the Canada West bronze game would bump UBC into first in conference game record against above-.500 teams.

The intention of the criteria is clear: try to find a way to evaluate the body of work and find a way to quantify the concept of signature wins. I suppose Ottawa, should it get left out, can use this as a bittersweet teaching moment. They were 0-4 against Carleton and Ryerson, teams whom they have handled in regular-season and league playoff games. But they could also wonder why their 0-4 is considered inferior to Calgary and UBC each being 0-0.

Similarly, the two OUA aspirants get dinged since the conference had only five of its 19 teams finish in the black. That was somewhat an effect of a top-heavy league, but also an effect of the only slightly unbalanced schedule. Canada West, of course, plays mix-and-match (10 opponents drawn from a pool of 16). Yet the rules instruct the committee to see those as one and the same, apparently?

It's getting quite late back here in the East, so here's a stab at an updated bracket.

  1. Carleton (OUA champion). The Ravens won't lose a Wilson Cup on their home floor. Full disclosure, I cannot even the last time Carleton played for one at home. Might have been in 2010. 
  2. Ryerson (OUA auto-berth). First team since York in 2005-06 to win two OUA games in a season in Ottawa. 
  3. McGill (RSEQ champion). About the only ranked team outside Ontario that is still standing.  
  4. Dalhousie (AUS champion). In through the front door.
  5. Manitoba (Canada West champion). The hottest team in the country, but Alberta has Mamadou Gueye.
  6. Alberta (Canada West auto berth). Alberta against McGill in March and it's in basketball not hockey? Highly irregular, but we'll go along with it. We'll let it ride with Manitoba winning on Saturday based on the convenience sample of their wins against UBC. The Golden Bears lost their two games against UBC by a combined 36 points, but some basic empathy would suggest they just got depleted in the second game. 
  7. UBC (at large). "Results of regional playoffs must be respected." The T-Birds should not be ahead of the other two Canada West teams, then?

    One might as well set them up with a rematch against Ryerson. Sequels aren't as good as originals, though! The Thunderbirds' gauntlet would also include either pesky McGill or a conference opponent who knows them well.

    The distaste for taking a team that lost in the second round in the playoffs is fully acknowledged; the point is that UBC wins most of the categories. If that's a reason to revise the categories, well I'll just trail off and look into space.
  8. UNB (AUS runner-up, de facto host team). Javon Masters against Theon Reefer. And nothing else matters.

    UNB, Alberta and McGill in a tournament in march it's in basketball not hockey? Oh, you heard that one?
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