It has been a few weeks since thoughts on this topic have been published herein and much has happened – of course other than Carleton dominating everyone and remaining #1. Here is my cut at the current Top 10:
#1 Carleton (18-0, 12-0, Last 10: 10-0, Streak: Won 18)… A complete dismantling of #2 Ottawa last Tuesday night showed that at this point in the season, championship #13 in 15 seasons is a strong bet. Ravens travel to Western and Windsor this weekend and then get set for Capital Hoops Classic a week from this coming Friday night against said Gee-Gees.
#2 UBC (19-1, 13-1, Last 10: 9-1, Streak: Won 5)… A pair of strong wins at home against Alberta following the bounce back comfortable win at Saskatchewan after taking their first – and only U-Sport – loss in decisive, wake-up fashion keeping the Thunderbirds near the top of the rankings. T-Birds finish the season against 3 lower-tiered teams are appear set to be in a position to host Canada West Final 4.
#3 Ottawa (20-2, 11-1, Last 10: 9-1, Streak: Won 2)… Gee-Gees bounced back with a pair of weekend wins but are likely still dazed by the beat down they took at home against Carleton. Guard play has been inconsistent and this may be one of the least explosive three-point shooting Ottawa teams in recent memory.
#4 Ryerson (14-2, 12-0, Last 10: 10-0, Streak: Won 13)… The hottest team in the nation this side of Carleton, Rams have dominated opponents since two early season losses to Dalhousie and Brock. Ryerson hosts former Top 10 program McMaster this Wednesday and then travels to St. Catharines on Friday night for a Meridian Center game against host Brock that is expected to attract 3,000+ fans.
#5 Calgary (16-3, 11-3, Last 10: 8-2, Streak: Lost 1)… Dinos have three home losses – albeit all to Canada West Final 4 type teams in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Undefeated on the road, Dinos could get tested in Kamloops in two weeks against Thompson Rivers but should cruise to the #2 seed in Canada West playoff seeding (although with RPI nothing is for certain).
#6 Alberta (17-7, 12-4, Last 10: 6-4, Streak: Won 1)… Golden Bears have hung in very well despite having by far the toughest schedule of any contender in Canada West (road games at Manitoba, at UBC, at Calgary with at Saskatchewan and Lethbridge still on the docket). Recently, a bit of youth and inexperience plus some injuries have caught up with Alberta however the body of work remains strong with two road wins at Manitoba, a clutch road win at Calgary and a near-miss at UBC among the important results. The ability to find some back-up minutes at the point guard spot to give 6’1″ Austin Waddoups a longer blow from time-to-time could be important.
#7 Brock (13-5, 8-4, Last 10: 6-4, Streak: Won 3)… Spots 7 through 10 are extremely debatable as none of the teams have endeared themselves recently to believe they can play with the Top 5 so Badgers are almost in this spot by default, given their recent road losses at Nipissing and at Lakehead. However a character-building come-from-behind win in the Lakehead rematch and solid, improved play recently from 6’7″ Dani Elgadi gives them the nod for this spot. Badgers have an opportunity to change observers thinking when they host #4 Ryerson on Friday night in the Meridian Center in St. Catharines.
#8 McGill (13-5, 7-3, Last 10: 7-3, Streak: Won 1)... Another program that in past years would be a bubble Top 10 team however Redmen do lead the RSEQ and have battled through recent injuries to starters 6’8″ Noah Daoust and 6’2″ freshman sensation Kendrick Jolin to get to their bye week in first place.
#9 Saskatchewan (13-6, 9-5, Last 10: 7-3, Streak: Won 1)… Huskies got healthy in a hurry and feature two of the best forwards in Canada West in 6’6″ Shane Osayande and 6’6″ Matt Forbes who are perfect complements. The post-holidays addition of 6’2″ U.S. import Lawrence Moore to the back court give Sask an explosive creator who seems to have found his scoring/shooting stroke over the past two weeks. Probably the most improved team in the nation since the Holidays, Saskatchewan has recent wins at #5 Calgary and vs. #2 UBC as well as sweeping a sneaky good Lethbridge team on the road. Huskies are trending higher.
#10 Saint Mary’s (16-7, 8-5, Last 10: 5-5, Streak: Won 3)… Probably a controversial pick in this spot however Huskies have overcome injuries to their front court to push toward one of the two AUS tournament byes. SMU is 3-1 vs. Halifax rival Dal Tigers this season including a recent home win and split at Memorial during the first weekend of the new calendar year, losing the first game without 5’9″ Marquis Clayton who sat out a one-game suspension before winning comfortably with Clayton back in the lineup the following day. The diminutive guard with range beyond the three point line and a propensity to knock down big shots is having an all-star season.
Dalhousie (17-7, 8-4, Last 10: 6-4, Streak: Lost 1)… Tigers have stumbled lately primarily amid an inconsistent effort from the perimeter. Outside shooting has let Dal down on several occasions recently, coinciding with the loss to a groin injury of 6’6″ freshman Alex Carson who remains out indefinitely. Tigers also hope to have spark-plug 6’2″ wing Cedric Sanogo back soon; the Montreal native has missed the entire season thus far rehabbing from an injury. The body of work remains impressive including road wins at Ryerson and at Brock in the pre-season.
Winnipeg (16-6, 9-5, Last 10: 6-4, Streak: Lost 1)… Wesmen have arguably the easiest Canada West schedule with no games against #2 UBC, #5 Calgary or #6 Alberta on their season slate. Manitoba swept the Wesmen including a resounding 31 point thrashing. Wesmen split at Saskatchewan in November – that was a different Sask team than now – as well as a home split vs. Lethbridge are positives. But Winnipeg needs to sweep the rest of their games including two at UVic on the final weekend of the season to have any hope of Top 10 consideration in my mind.
Memorial (13-10, 9-5, Last 10: 6-4, Streak: Won 2)… Seahawks currently lead the AUS standings and have had a solid second half however they went 1-5 during two trips to Ontario in the pre-season with the following results: lost by 36 at Toronto, lost by 26 to Alberta (neutral court at Queen’s), lost by 37 to Ottawa at Queen’s and lost by 20 at Queen’s. MUN has a chance to prove naysayers wrong this coming weekend with two games at Dalhousie.
McMaster (15-6, 7-6, Last 10: 5-5, Streak: Won 1)… Darlings of the early season after winning their first 10 in a row and obtaining rankings as high as #3, Marauders are only 5-6 since that time including 0-4 against Top 10 teams and losses at Laurentian and this past Friday at home against cellar-dweller York. Depth remains an issue as their Big 3 have played major minutes. Mac has a chance to forge back into the Top 10 discussion this Wednesday night when they visit #4 Ryerson.