Bronze Baby Bracketology: Laval is a clear No. 1 on the road to Ryerson

Heather Lindsay left a legacy at Carleton; one, leading the Ravens to the program's first national title and two, speaking truth about the media gatekeepers at that time when a winner is more likely to be really heard, even though we all could learn to listen at all times: "There were years where we would win a game and the whole story would be about the men’s team losing — just stuff like that where it’s just not fair at all." (Ottawa magazine, Sept. 10, 2018.)

No further mansplanation necessary. 

For purpose of this exercise, Carleton and Lindsay made this easy; they were the No. 1 seed for the women's basketball Final 8 two seasons in a row.  Another bonus for the dim-bulb prognosticator is there was a reasonable equilibrium between all four sport conferences that validated the "top 6" seeding rule.

Lindsay is playing in Germany, but at least the competitive balance is mostly still there. There is schism between Elo and the eye test, a.k.a. the coaches' poll, over whether Canada West or Ontario is the deeper conference. The Atlantic cannot get anywhere in the human poll, but UPEI is getting some love from the computer rankings. So, for the dim-bulm prognosticator, this ought to be fun.

A first crack at seeding the nationals, which as an actual proud Ontarian, take place in the Maple Leaf Gardens building in early March.
  1. Laval (RSEQ champion). They have a nice collection of non-conference wins and their only close games in the RSEQ were the league opener and the first game after the holidays, the rust-off-the-rims contest. Led by Carrie-Ann Auger and Sarah-Jane Marois, Laval is shooting 35.4 per cent from downtown.

    The floor for Laval is probably being a wild card, somewhere between the No. 3 and No. 5 seed, if it stumbles in RSEQ final.
  2. Ottawa (OUA champion). The setup practically caters to the Gee-Gees — win two home games to secure a berth, and host the Critelli Cup, likely against McMaster or Carleton. All five Ottawa starters average in double figures and having 6-foot-5 Angela Ribarich under the basket must be a really boost to the help defence.
  3. Regina (Canada West champion). The Cougars of Kyanna Giles have to take Calgary twice at the Jack Simpson Gym, but they already did that in October. Regina, among Canada West's big three, played the most games against non-playoff teams — eight — but Calgary has not had a sterling schedule since the calendar flipped to 2019. So, slightly out on a limb, for grins let's take Regina.
  4. Saskatchewan (Canada West No. 2).  At this writing, the Huskies have ostensibly the best route to to a Canada West auto berth. They host a play-in best-of-3 semifinal against Lethbridge, which it defeated by an average of 26.5 points in two early-January games.

    A working assumption is that someone under Lisa Thomaidis' command figured out that Saskatchewan could still grade out No. 1 in the RPI even though they were swept by Regina on Feb. 1-2. Without casting aspersions, one could read a little cryptically into a comment from the coach about the losses against Regina that "the timing is good in terms of making sure the motivation is high to get better and really emphasize the point we have some work to still do."
  5. McMaster (OUA No. 2). Most likely scenario for the Marauders is a play-in cross-over semifinal against Carleton on Feb. 27. The Marauders won the regular-season matchup by 14 points. Never count out Carleton.
  6. UPEI (AUS champion). What wins out in the long run at this level — balanced strength or having a scorer? The Atlantic has two players, Cape Breton forward Hannah Brown and Acadia guard Haley McDonald, averaging 20-plus a night, and their teams are a combined  1-5 against the Panthers.

    Presumably, having their own 6-foot-1 forward, Carolina Del Santo, gives UPEI a check on Brown against CBU. They must have done a job on McDonald during a two-game sweep last weekend, as she tried 51 shots and 35 of them missed. A Panthers win against lowly St. FX this weekend would lock up the No. 1 seed in the AUS Final 6.

    From the well outside looking in, it appears UPEI only goes seven-deep against the upper-crust of AUS. That could come into play in a single-elimination format, or not.
  7.  Calgary (wild card). Coming into this week, Calgary's 25-5 pre-playoffs record and eighth-in-the-country RPI noses out Carleton's 25-7 mark with the 12th-highest RPI. Those are the first two criteria for the wild-card berth, not who Internet-shouts the loudest.
  8. Ryerson (host). Slotting the Rams in the No. 8 seed potentially puts two southern Ontario schools in the same session for the quarterfinals.
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