Men's Basketball Bracketology 2020, Brody Clarke is back edition

Consider the bear poked. Five weeks out from the Final 8, it is worth it to begin bracketing.

At first blush, there is a parity paradox which will wend its way down-bracket when, wait for it, it comes to whether the wild card team will be a semifinalist out of Canada West or Ontario. It is easier at this point to identify three clear worthies out west — Calgary, Alberta with Brody Clarke back and Manitoba are all north of .600 in conference RPI and above .800 in overall win percentage — than it is to identify how the hierarchy of OUA falls into line behind the Behemoth off Bronson Ave. that is the Carleton Ravens. Ontario is clearly the most competitive conference, with a good five teams one could see getting hot in the playoffs and winning an auto-berth.

The first principles are just to help to foster understanding of the seeding rules. Conference tournament winners must be seeded in the top six; same-conference matchups in the quarterfinals are frowned upon but not forbidden; and common sense just suggests that Carleton and host Ottawa will be on opposite sides of the draw. But the OUA's three-division format and 12-team playoff bracket might make that tricky.

Ultimately, this first attempt has Carleton-Team Wild Card and the runners-ups of our two largest conferences playing in the daytime pod. Alberta-Concordia and Dalhousie-Ottawa would be the evening quarterfinals.
  1. Carleton (OUA champion). Well, duh. Carleton's focus is always on winning the national championship, but this group will probably want to go all out for the Wilson Cup.
  2. Dalhousie (AUS champion). Strong non-conference schedule might mean that the wild card is up their sleeve, just in case.
  3. Alberta (Canada West champion). Putting Canada West's auto-berth winners 3-4 to separate them makes the most sense. Alberta hosts Calgary on Thursday night in the front end of a home-and-home that will essentially decide the conference's top playoff seed. Martin Timmerman's scenario planner says the Golden Bears likely need a sweep to get the top seed.
  4. Calgary (Canada West rep). Guesstimating that the Dinos probably have the best tournament odds out of Canada West, as a strong record also gives them a wild-card fallback. 
  5. Lakehead (OUA rep). This is where it gets tricky. The Isaiah Traylor-led Thunderwolves have a clearer path to being OUA's No. 2 playoff seed, which will earn them a play-in game in Thunder Bay. They also defeated Ottawa at Ottawa in November and that might be a factor in seedings.

  6. Concordia (RSEQ champion). Presumptive favourite after their sweep against McGill last weekend. Soapbox moment: the RSEQ is the one league that should play best-of-three or two-game, totals-points series to spark interest in their playoffs.
  7. Ottawa (host). Hey, a national champion (Brock in 2008) has emerged from this position more recently than it has from the 3, 4 or 6 seed — facts.

    The OUA's three-division, bracketed-playoffs formats has Ottawa boxed into the No. 4 seed. That means laying out for a week ahead of a quarterfinal against, say, either surging Ryerson or Laurentian with an on-a-mission Kadre Gray, coming off an on-campus playoff win. The reward for the survivor is a semifinal at the Ravens' Nest
  8. Ryerson (wild card). Ryerson and Laurentian would be the 5 and 6 seeds if OUA playoffs started this weekend, but both have a better SoR than Manitoba, Canada West's third-best team.

    That Laurentian-Ryerson regular-season finale in Toronto on Feb. 15 looms large. It is entirely possible the loser will be better off, finishing sixth and going into the Lakehead-Western half of the playoff bracket while the winner ends up in the Ottawa-Carleton half.

    Recency is a factor. Ryerson is 6-1 so far in January and minus some charity-stripe yips against Carleton, they would be 7-0. It is foreseeable that they could win a quarterfinal at Western and Ottawa and be a tough out in a play-in game at Lakehead or Carleton.

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