Bronze Baby Bracketology: Carleton-McMaster is the big puzzle piece

Just as sports reveal character, February sorts out the two types of people who work on a sports desk — the ones who understand the Page Playoff format in curling and the ones who need a refresher comes Scotties and Brier time. There is no literal connection between that and the lead-up to the women's basketball Final 8 — face it Sags, there isn't any connection — but one of the play-in games this week is effectively like a Page Playoff.

Carleton at McMaster, namely, is the most fraught game this week. McMaster is the first-place team in a 1 vs. 2 game with two lives, since Theresa Burns' Marauders grade out highly across the board in the criteria for the at-large berth. For Carleton, which turned over four starters from the 2018 national championship squad and stayed in the rankings, it's like a 3 vs. 4 game — win or go home. If

The projection is the same as last week, with a hunch play on Regina to win on the road in Canada West. The home team has won the Canada West final three years in a row, so a flip is due.

  1. Laval (RSEQ champion). They are human, having lost one game by one point. 
  2. Ottawa (OUA champion). It's your moment, you own it, Ottawa.
  3. Regina (Canada West champion).* For blogging purposes, really needed Regina to give guard Faith Reid one more open look during their clincher at Calgary, which she surely would have sank. Reid had nine points, all on triples; one more bucket would have given Regina the neat feat of having a double-digit scorer off the bench in all four of its playoff wins.
  4. Saskatchewan (Canada West No. 2). So home court has been a factor in the last three Cougars-Huskies championship games. One of these times it will not.

    This spot is probably the floor for the Huskies. Now if, something happens to Laval or Ottawa, the first team out of the west could vault up to No. 2. Concern about a same-conference matchup would evaporate since the at-large berth would no longer be available to Calgary.
  5. McMaster (OUA No. 2). Pardon the dollar-store psychology, but there always seems to be a phenomena with a first-place team in the first playoff game. It has all the pressure and the expectations. Perhaps that was in play when McMaster did not pull away from Brock until very late in its quarterfinal. Winning is one more point, not 25 more (Carleton's winning margin) or 36 (Ottawa's). But a tight first game does feed into narratives.
  6. UPEI (AUS champion). Two wins away from ending the longest Final 8 drought in the AUS that extends back to 1998. Then again, 1998 was just like yesterday if you believe the people in charge of Ontario's health education curriculum.
  7. Calgary (wild card). The Dinos here presumes that McMaster, Ottawa, Laval and UPEI each wins its way into the dance.
  8. Ryerson (host).*Second verse, same as the first.
* already qualified
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