#1 Ryerson (18-2, 14-1) (LW #1)… Rams have now won 11 in a row after this afternoon’s win over U of T at the Enercare Center in front of a packed house. With the most quality depth in the nation, Ryerson can run top-end players two deep at all 5 spots and only need to win their final 4 games – all on the road – to maintain this ranking and, apparently, take the #1 seed in the RPI-structured OUA playoff bracket. Rye finishes at Guelph (this Wednesday), at Lakehead (Friday) and then next weekend at Queen’s and at York.
#2 Ottawa (23-4, 13-2) (LW #2)… Gee-Gees let a big, second-half lead get away at McMaster on Friday night and were the less-energized team down the stretch. This past weekend saw the return of 6’3″ Caleb Agada, who looked a step slow coming off a severe ankle injury and was saddled with foul trouble in both games. Talk of an OUA Player-of-the-Year candidacy for 6’1″ Mike L’Africain is very reasonable – the fifth-year point guard had his third 30+ point game of the season in Saturday’s win at Brock while underrated 6’6″ wing forward Matt Plunkett again delivered several big second-half 3’s to allow Ottawa to pull away. Gee-Gees host Waterloo and Laurier this coming weekend at home with Saturday being Senior’s night.
#3 Carleton (17-4, 12-3) (LW #3)… After a tough 3-3 stretch that included a difficult win at home over Queen’s, there were whispers of slippage into non-home-playoff game territory however Carleton recovered very nicely this weekend with a pair of workmanlike double digit road wins at Top 10 Brock and McMaster. Ravens continue to consistently play harder than their opponents on every possession and, while this team is arguably the least talented in the last 15 or so seasons, Ravens are slowly starting to get solid contributions from deeper in their bench as 6’6″ Mitchell Wood was very good on Saturday against Mac and 6’2″ guard Stanley Mayambo is starting to deliver quality offense off the bench.
#4 Calgary (23-6, 16-3) (LW #4)… Dinos swept Regina, the first game before about 3,000 fans on Thursday night which could be a prelude to the Canada West Final 4 which Dinos would be in a position to host with a victory next Saturday night in Edmonton against Alberta Golden Bears, who just qualified for the post-season. 6’5″ Thomas Cooper had another pair of high scoring games vs. Cougars and is one of the favorites for Canada West Player-of-the-Year. Calgary has the nation’s longest league winning streak at 12 in a row and counting.
#5 UBC (17-5, 14-4) (LW #5)… With a pair of wins at Brandon, T-Birds are 8-2 after the Holidays and look to clinch 2nd spot in the Pioneer with a sweep at home this coming weekend vs. Winnipeg. UBC retains the automatic host bid for the Nationals but wants to keep the pressure on Calgary to host CW Final 4.
#6 Manitoba (19-10, 15-5) (LW #8) Another red-hot team that has won 7 consecutive and 16 of their past 19 including Wesmen Classic championship, Bisons are riding the multi-talented play of 6’5″ Keith Omoerah who has played himself into the Canada West First team all-star discussion. Manitoba is also finally getting consistent quality minutes from 6’6″ Jonathan Alexander who has been inserted into the starting lineup. This could be the most deepest team of athletic talent in the Pioneer – Bisons will host a Canada West quarter-final playoff series for the first time in a couple of decades.
#7 Dalhousie (18-6, 12-5) (LW #9) Tigers struggled in parts of their win over Cape Breton but continue to win with defense and rebounding, led by 5’11” Ritchie Kanza-Mata who has elevated his play guarding/creating turnovers and has been much more aggressive with his offense, playing his way into the AUS First team all-star discussion. Dal has a first-place showdown this Saturday at home against UPEI Panthers with both teams looking to lock-up a first round bye at the AUS Final 6 tournament.
#8 Brock (17-5, 10-5) (LW#6)… Reality hit the Badgers over the past 10 or so days with 3 double digit losses against the #1, #2 and #3 seeded teams in the country. Coach Charles Kissi has been attempting to develop some depth however it was clear that after his first 5, the talent level isn’t yet what is required to contend at this point. While 6’5″ Dani Elgadi struggled all weekend against Carleton and Ottawa, the Badgers got a break-out game from 6’0″ freshman point guard Tyler Brown, who has assumed the starting pg role with great confidence and production, scoring 28 points on 12 for 19 shooting while going head-to-head against 5th year senior guard Mike L’Africain of the Gee-Gees. Badgers get a chance to re-gain some confidence , hosting Nipissing and Laurentian this weekend followed by a Wednesday, February 24th rivalry game at the Meridian Center against McMaster when Brock hopes to clinch the OUA Central division regular season crown.
#9 McMaster (14-6, 10-5) (LW #10)… Behind the tremendous exploits of 6’6″ Troy Joseph and 6’4″ Leon Alexander, the Marauders had arguably the strongest win in the era of those two by coming back from 18 down in the second half to defeat #2 Ottawa. Mac proved that, at home at least, they can be viewed as a legitimate playoff-calibre team that has a reasonable chance to compete for the Nationals. Marauders were unable to match the intensity of #3 Carleton the following night, bowing by double digits but the Ottawa win provides the opportunity to push into #4 OUA ranking and a home playoff game in the quarter-finals.
#10 McGill (17-5, 9-4) (LW HM) Despite some injuries, quality depth and a return to more typical McGill defending and rebounding helped push Redmen to their fourth victory in five games, a tough road win at Concordia. 6’5″ fifth-year point forward Vincent Dufort has emerged as the offensive leader and key decision maker down the stretch for McGill and is playing his way into the First team all-star discussion while the return of tough, consistent 6’7″ reigning POY Francois Bourque provides McGill with strength and tenacity around the rim. McGill is back in first place and holds their own destiny to capture what would be their fourth consecutive RSEQ regular season title – needing 2 wins in their final 3 games (at Laval, home to Bishop’s, home to UQAM). The conference tournament is being held at Love Competition Hall for the first time.
UPEI (20-11, 12-6) Winding up a 10-1 season at home, Panthers still have hopes of finishing first in the AUS when they visit Dalhousie on Saturday; both teams are tied atop the conference with 34 points.
Thompson Rivers (15-4, 14-4) (LW: #7) Two road losses to Fraser Valley makes even this ranking precarious.
Lakehead (18-9, 9-6) with a chance to move higher when they host #1 Ryerson this Friday in Thunder Bay.