Bracketology: Calgary all but secures No. 1; UBC qualifies, Alberta in line for a wild card

Now Alberta is cheering for chalk.

Sometimes the big picture that seems so self-evident is too fuzzy and vague to become focal, so the small thinking becomes the big picture. In the long run, where the aim is to have more Canadian university basketball teams become a viable alternative for talents that might otherwise end up at a D-1 low major or some slack D-2 diploma mill, it probably is good that Laurier, with a .760 win percentage in all OUA games, is going to host, Ryerson, which has played .917 ball, in a play-in game this week.

The Rams need someone to take up the cause of them being hosed about as much as Bradley Cooper does. The Laurier Golden Hawks getting a decent crowd out for its first home semifinal game would do more to spread word-of-mouth about the strength of university basketball than it does at Ryerson, where they would be playing in front of the converted. So there is that, if you can ignore the Rams having the better record which also includes beating Laurier by 45 points in November. 

However, that segues into into the contrast between the formats of the country's two largest leagues. Canada West's unbalanced, undivided setup has contributed to the best of all possible outcomes. Calgary is undefeated in the conference and has the best case to be the No. 1 seed in two weeks' time. The series that Alberta and UBC, with the Thunderbirds ultimately prevailing in Game 3 on Sunday night played was competitive and taut and like sealed the emotional and empirical arguments for Canada West getting the wild card, if the form holds this week.

Alberta are ahead of both Laurier and the Brock Badgers in the all-important selection criteria for an at-large berth. So really, no sugarcoating, those OUA semis on Wednesday are surely do-or-done games for the two OUA West schools. It might be a jump to conclusions to call that a creation of the two-division format. It is more likely that the OUA's growing parity has worked against having an obvious third Final 8 team.

There are some changes since that first attempt two weeks ago. Calgary, on paper, deserves the top seed, while Quebec once again seems to be an enigma.

  1. Calgary (Canada West champion). They deserve it. The 2018 Dinos might have well been this decade's 2008 Brock Badgers, who swooped to wins the nationals where vanquishing Carleton in the semis was the realest final. But that does not come into play for seeding. Now, where to put Calgary as a Canada West runner-up would be awfully interesting. They can render that moot by smoking UBC.
  2. Carleton (OUA champion). The chance that the Wilson Cup could just be a prologue to a national semifinals showdown is rather anticlimactic. But hey, Carleton and Ryerson are probably incapable of playing a boring game.
  3. Ryerson (OUA assigned). The only basis for projecting Carleton at No. 2 and Ryerson at No. 3 is that the Ravens rarely lose two in a row against anyone. Not sure about what is the more impressive Tanor Ngom stat against Ottawa — that the 7-foot-2 centre got his 22 points on only 10 shots, or that Ottawa had only 25 two-point attempts.

    If ELO Rating is, by imperial edict, the indicator, than Ryerson is much closer to the top two than it is to UBC. Now, if UBC upsets Calgary this week in the Canada West final, then the seeding call gets really interesting.
  4. UBC (Canada West assigned). First things first: the Thunderbirds' X factor was shutting down Brody Clarke, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting as UBC won 84-78 to nab an auto-berth on Sunday. Some words are being eaten, rest assured, after seeing the Thunderbirds take two on Alberta's floor to punch their ticket.
  5. Saint Mary's (AUS champion). No longer undefeated in the league, but that defeat in a game that didn't affect the standings could have been the scare they needed ... hey, how about UNB's Chris Spurrell with a land-in-the-bench last-second game-winner to get his team the other AUS Final 6 bye?
  6. McGill (RSEQ champion). Someone from Montreal likely hands here. First-place Concordia had home-court advantage wrapped early, so maybe it does not matter that they have lost their most recent outings to semifinal opponent Bishop's (70-68, albeit at Lennoxville), second-place McGill (70-59) and third-place UQAM (81-79). But at the same time, the Stingers have have double-digit conference wins four years in a row and every time it's been McGill that came out of the Q.

    Hey, I'm a Minnesota Vikings and a Toronto Raptors fan. I also get sick of people who believe the past dictates the future, always.
  7. Alberta (wild card). The Golden Bears grade out higher than Laurier in four of the five criteria for the at-large berth, which means they should get it.
  8. Dalhousie (host). Wrote this one in with the same pen I use to complete The New York Times Sunday crossword, at least as far as you know.
By the way, about seven years ago Ken Shields told someone that if Phil Scrubb "doesn't play for the national team, there should be an investigation." Today:

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