UBC, Canada West & the “at large” bid

There has been some question as to the Canada West conference policy for submitting “at large” bids to the Final 8.  We originally sourced some intel that spoke to an apparent conference rule that was to said to include only the Canada West Final 4 participants in any “at large” bids.

Upon further investigation, we have confirmed with multiple high-ranking officials that no such rule exists.  As such, UBC is free to apply for a wild card and are expected to do so in time for Sunday night’s seeding committee meeting.

With only 3 losses all season including just one loss in non-conference and conference regular season games, Thunderbirds have been ranked in the top 3 for much of the season.  And, despite the pair of home losses in the CW quarter-finals this past weekend, a UBC bid would be considered according to “U Sports Final 8 Selection Criteria for the At-large Berth“, specifically under Clause 13 (see link).

Anecdotally, UBC appears to be in the mix albeit according to Martin Timmerman’s current scenario based on the nine criteria referred to above which, by no fault of his own, is only a very preliminary view of what could emerge – given the many unknowns that currently exist but that will be decided by Saturday night.  Recall in a prior post we shared a quote from an observer to the effect of “speculating on the at-large bid at this point is akin to, at Christmas, predicting CW and OUA playoff teams and seedings using RPI”.

Again, using gut feel, the winner of the Bronze medal game at the OUA Wilson Cup is likely to be the favorite for the wild card.  Scenarios that could affect this include Calgary losing to Manitoba in the semi-final (and then subsequently winning the Bronze medal game) and/or the final math clearly working in UBC’s favor.

The criteria have been designed to remove any subjectivity from the selection committee, which is made up of one coach from each of the four conferences.  In practice, this can be a challenge.

What is certain is that there is very likely to be some controversy – which, for a sports property starving for profile, can be a good thing !  Stay tuned for Sunday night’s seeding announcement.  But in the interim, enjoy all the great games that will take place this weekend across the country in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary.


Canada West All-Star & All-Freshman teams announced

Major award winners will be announced later this week.  My somewhat-uneducated pick for Canada West Player-of-the-Year is UBC’s Conor Morgan, who had a fine year.  Lethbridge’s Dejan Bordeaux could be in play for Defensive Player-of-the-Year however Manitoba’s Keith Omoerah is also a fine defender.  As mentioned, I have not watched enough Canada West to be overly opinionated on these major awards but do wish all players below congratulations.  The official release can be found here.

All Canada West Final Four games can be seen live on CanadaWest.tv


2016-17 CW Men’s Basketball First Team All-Stars

Name / Position / University / Year / Hometown

6’7″ Brody Clarke / F / Alberta / 2 / Toronto, Ont.

6’9″ Conor Morgan / G, F / UBC / 4 / Victoria, B.C.

6’5″ Thomas Cooper / G / Calgary / 5 / Chattanooga, Tennessee

6’7″ Shane Osayande / F / Saskatchewan / 4 / Toronto, Ont.

6’9″ Volodymyr Iegorov / F / TRU / 5 / Donetsk, Ukraine

2016-17 CW Men’s Basketball Second Team All-Stars

Name / Position / University / Year / Hometown

6’0″ Austin Waddoups / G / Alberta / 3 / American Fork, Utah

6’6″ Jordan Jensen-Whyte / G / UBC / 5 / Calgary, Alta.

6’0″ Manny Dulay / G / Fraser Valley / 5 / Surrey, B.C.

6’1″ Dejon Burdeaux / G / Lethbridge / 4 / Oakland, California

6’3″ Justus Alleyn / G / Manitoba / 4 / Winnipeg, Man.

2016-17 CW Men’s Basketball Third Team All-Stars

Name / Position / University / Year / Hometown

Tyvon Cooper / G / Brandon / 2 / Middleton, New York

Brett Layton / F / Mount Royal / 2 / Calgary, Alta.

Matthew Forbes / F / Saskatchewan / 5 / Regina Beach, Sask.

Grant Sitton / G, F / Victoria / 5 / Brush Prairie, Washington

Denzel Lynch-Blair / G / Winnipeg / 3 / Toronto, Ont.

2016-17 CW Men’s Basketball All-Rookies

Name / Position / University / Hometown

Andre Kelly / G / Alberta / Mississauga, Ont.

James Wagner / F / Manitoba / Winnipeg, Man.

Johneil Johnson / G / Regina / Lake Echo, N.S.

Scott Kellum / G / Victoria / Issaquah, Washington

Narcisse Ambanza / G / Winnipeg / Toronto, Ont.

Championship weekend Friday schedule

The first of the two most exciting weekends of the U-Sport men’s basketball season begins this coming Friday with 8 sudden-death games across all 4 conferences in the country after which there will be significantly more clarity regarding the make-up of the Final 8 and, more importantly, the “at large” or wild card bid.

The “at large” bid is already beginning to attract coast-to-coast attention after UBC’s loss in the Canada West quarter-final last weekend with some suggesting that the Thunderbirds (25-3) remain in the hunt for the single “at large” bid at the Nationals.

Thanks to the wonderful work of Martin Timmerman, observers have one view of the current state of the wild card “race”.  In the end, the scenarios presented on Martin’s site will change after virtually every game this coming weekend.  In one observers words: “Predicting the wild card scenario today is similar to making OUA and Canada West playoff spot and seeding predictions at Christmas time using  the RPI standings”.

Here is a quick, chronological look at Friday’s games (basis Eastern time).  We will follow with more detailed previews in the coming days.

5 PM ET:

Alberta (23-10) vs Saskatchewan (20-7) (Canada West semi-final #1)… 3 PM Mountain time; Neutral site game at Jack Simpson Gym at University of Calgary.  Winner qualifies for Final 8; loser plays Bronze medal game – both on Saturday.

Brock (21-5) at Carleton (26-0) (OUA Wilson Cup semi-final #1)… Ravens, as #1 OUA seed, host Badgers at Raven’s Nest.  Winner qualifies for Final 8; loser plays in OUA Bronze Medal game – both on Saturday.

5:30 PM ET:

Acadia (12-17) vs Memorial (16-13) (AUS tournament quarter-final at Scotiabank Center in Halifax)... 6:30 PM Atlantic time.  Winner advances to Saturday’s AUS semi-final vs. AUS #1 Dalhousie.  Loser is eliminated.

6:30 PM ET:

McGill (19-5) vs Laval (8-18) (RSEQ semi-final at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau in Montreal)… Winner advances to Saturday’s RSEQ championship game.  Loser is eliminated.

7:30 PM ET:

Saint Mary’s (21-9) vs St.FX (14-18) (AUS tournament quarter-final at Scotiabank Center in Halifax)… 8:30 PM Atlantic time.  Winner advances to Saturday’s AUS semi-final vs. AUS #2 UNB.  Loser is eliminated.

8 PM ET:

Ottawa (26-4) vs Ryerson (20-4) (OUA Wilson Cup semi-final #2)… Neutral site game at Raven’s Nest in Ottawa.  Winner qualifies for Final 8; loser plays in OUA Bronze Medal game – both on Saturday.

8:30 PM ET:

Concordia (17-9) vs UQAM (13-14) (RSEQ semi-final at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau in Montreal)…  Winner advances to Saturday’s RSEQ championship game.  Loser is eliminated.

10 PM ET:

Manitoba (21-11) at Calgary (23-4) (Canada West semi-final #1)… 8 PM Mountain time.  Dinos host Canada West Final 4 at Jack Simpson Gym as the top seed in the conference based on RPI.  Winner qualifies for Final 8; loser plays Bronze medal game – both on Saturday.




X’s Charles makes Senior’s night memorable

Here is a quick review of important stories around the country from last night’s action in U-Sport men’s basketball.

AUS:  Although the game was meaningless to the standings and playoff seedings, St. FX fifth-year guard 6’0″ Akil Charles made his Senior’s Night celebration unforgettable with a spectacular game-ending performance that lifted X to a regular-season ending 94-93 OT victory over UPEI at the Oland Center.  The game also featured a near four-point play with under a second to go in OT that could have extended the match to a second OT.  The dramatics began with X down 11 and under 4 minutes to play as Charles reeled off the next 12 St. FX points – all three pointers – capped by a dramatic shot from downtown to tie it with just 0.1 seconds showing on the clock.  Charles then opened the extra frame with 5 consecutive points including another three, setting up the game-winning score by 6’1″ freshman Justin Andrew with just 25 seconds remaining.  Andrew also secured a rebound on a UPEI miss on the following possession and made two free throws, giving X-Men a four point lead.  Miraculously, Panthers Tyler Scott, playing the final game of his fine career, knocked down a three as the buzzer sounded and, improbably, X’s 6’8″ Kevin Bercy was whistled for a foul on the shot !  Scott, who earlier in the season had made a clutch elbow jumper to lead a Panthers win over X, unfortunately missed the free throw and X-Men held on to finish the season at 9-11, good enough for sixth place in the conference and a first-round date with Saint Mary’s.  Huskies held on to third place with a victory at Cape Breton, keeping Capers winless this season.  In the other AUS quarter-final tournament game this coming Friday at TD Place in Halifax, Memorial and Acadia meet for the third time in a week.  #1 seeded Dalhousie and #2 seeded UNB Varsity Reds await the winners of Friday’s games.

RSEQ:  Any mystery as to which team would finish third and avoid a first-place match-up with McGill was answered early Saturday evening as Concordia Stingers defeated Laval 75-63 at the BeeHive led by 6’4″ Ken Beaulieu‘s 15 points and 7 rebounds.  Stingers finish second and face third-place UQAM in one of two RSEQ sudden death semi-final games on Friday at the Centre Pierre Charbonneau, a venue near Olympic Stadium in Montreal that holds about 2,700 fans for basketball.  Later on Saturday, UQAM secured an 8-8 (.500) finish with a win at home over Bishop’s as 6’11” Yassin Debauche had a strong offensive performance with 21 points and 12 rebounds.  Laval will face McGill in the other semi-final – games go at 6:30 ET and 8:30 ET.  Specific schedule to follow.

Canada West:  Biggest news of the weekend was Manitoba’s two-game upset sweep in Vancouver over UBC right in War Memorial Gym.  Bisons, who have now won 17 of their last 19 games overall, had their way off the dribble during much of the two games and also took advantage of Thunderbirds face guarding 6’0″ A.J. Basi for some uncontested takes and easy back-doors to the rim.  Basi however knocked down the game-winning and series-clinching three in the final 8 seconds of Game Two.  T-Birds fell behind for periods and extended their “d” and the veteran Bisons, who have now qualified for their second consecutive Canada West Final Four, took advantage.  UBC is now officially eliminated from any consideration for a Final 8 wild card berth – Canada West policy is to nominate only the two teams that qualify for the CW Final 4 and do not qualify automatically.  The series was a bitter disappointment for 6’5″ Jordan Jensen-Whyte who was UBC’s most effective offensive threat all weekend long with 22 points in the Game One four-point regulation time loss and 33 points, 10 rebounds in the two point OT loss on Saturday.  Jensen-Whyte had 12 of his 33 points in the 4th quarter and OT, rallying UBC from a 9 point fourth-quarter deficit including a pair of clutch free throws with 5 seconds remaining to send the game into the extra frame.  Manitoba gets set to meet Calgary in the first CW semi-final in what will be a rematch of last season’s game won handily by the Dinos.  Calgary had to work hard to sweep Thompson Rivers, having trouble when facing the WolfPack zone all weekend but coming from behind in the second game to claim the sweep against a TRU team with a short bench.  Dinos are likely to have to face Manitoba without the services of zone-stretching 6’6″ wing forward Lars Schlueter who missed this past weekend with a high ankle sprain; his status for next weekend is uncertain… Alberta put on a three-point shooting barrage in the third and deciding game of their Best-of-3 against Lethbridge, making 8 of their first 12 threes in the first 11 minutes of the game, surging to a 23 point halftime lead with 69 first-half points.  Horns had staged a dramatic comeback in game two with some fine three-point shooting of their own and squeezed out an OT win to force Saturday’s third game.  Alberta, which shot 19 for 39 from three in the deciding third game against Lethbridge, meets Saskatchewan on Friday in one CW semi-final after Huskies swept Winnipeg, holding off the Wesmen in game two after a spirited rally that almost allowed Winnipeg to come from 20+ down.  Get much more on Canada West at Wayne Thomas CanadaWest Hoops site

Top 4 seeds all advance to Wilson Cup Final Four

Controversy continues about the role that RPI does – and should – play in determining playoff teams and seedings but one major item is reasonably certain:  the Top 4 teams in the OUA this season are advancing to the Wilson Cup Final 4 and the semi-final seedings are very reasonable:  RPI or no RPI.

All four teams rolled to relatively easy victories at home yesterday afternoon and last night, validating what the regular season standings and national rankings have reflected:  all four teams are among of the top 7 or 8 teams in the country at a minimum.

I got a chance to review all 4 games while in transit and after return from business travel and all home teams won comfortably.

Brock 90, Toronto 69… 6’7″ Dani Elgadi dominated at both ends, finishing with 18 points, 15 boards, 5 assists and 4 blocks as Badgers won comfortably at home to advance to next weekend’s Wilson Cup semi-final, a playoff rematch against #1 ranked Carleton.  Elgadi did a strong job making it tough for 6’5″ Devin Johnson (4 of 19 shooting; 14 points), altering shots with his length and blocking others and offensively showed off his efficient mid-range game off the face-up along the baseline.  Badgers are also getting improved offensive production from 6’7″ lefty Cassidy Ryan (18 points on 8-10 shooting in just 18 minutes) who is much more assertive attacking the rim off any mismatches and finishing from 12-15 feet.  Toronto hung in for much of the first half, surprising Brock with some trapping that created turnovers and a nice start from 6’5″ Manny Sahota, who unfortunately was saddled with 3 fouls, including an undisciplined frustration foul for his third late in the second quarter about 60 feet from Brock’s basket.  Badgers used some double teaming of their own to take control late in the second and then grabbed an early 11 point lead in the third quarter.  The Blues then made their last serious push of the game, using a mini 6-2 run to close to within 7 culminated by an “and 1″ by 6’3” Sage Usher. Unfortunately the third year guard missed the ensuing free throw and Brock pulled away using a 13-5 run keyed by 6’5″ Johneil Simpson (18 points off the bench) and the deficit never dropped below 10 thereafter.  Simpson’s offensive decision making continues to mature as he is reading and attacking close-outs with much more purpose – he had 7 second quarter points including a pair of one-dribble 17 foot pull-ups that were money; his shot selection has improved meaningfully and now, with the added assets of sharing, beating closeouts and getting to the rim in his game, the early transition three – which was previously a “feast-or-famine” type shot, becomes a good look for Brock, especially when he has it going.  The Blues complete their most successful season under fourth-year Head Coach John Campbell with a home playoff win and an OUA quarter-final game but need to get more in these games out of their back-court including Usher, who went just 2 for 9 from the floor for 6 points – all in the second half – and at one point was warned by the referees about arguing holds off the ball and 6’3″ Reilly Reid who did finish with 15 points and contributed early in the third when Toronto was still in the game.  Toronto loses Johnson and Sahota next season as both have completed five seasons of eligibility.

Ottawa 93, Laurentian 81… The return to full form of 6’3″ All-Canadian candidate Caleb Agada was enough for the Gee-Gees to pull away early in the second quarter and defeat the Voyageurs decisively in an OUA Wilson Cup quarter-final game at Montpetit Hall.  Active defensively and in the open court, Agada created several turnovers and deflections, got to the rim, knocked down an open 3 to start a perfect 6 for 6 from the field, scoring 13 of his 16 points before halftime when Ottawa opened up leads as large as 17 points by early in the second quarter.  Agada added 8 rebounds and 6 assists in an all-conference type effort.  Ottawa exploded to leads as large as 26 in the second half as 6’6″ Matt Plunkett, coming off a leg injury sustained last weekend, went off for a career-high 21 points, with 18 coming after halftime including three pointers on 3 consecutive possessions all table-set by 6’2″ Adam Presutti, who also appears to be working through some perimeter shooting woes that have plagued the veteran guard recently.  Gee-Gees pair of bigs 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles and 6’7″ Brody Maracle each had solid efforts, playing 24 minutes apiece in a game that Gee-Gees generally had well in hand but the pair continue to struggle from the foul line, yesterday afternoon going a combined 4 for 10 from the free throw line.  Laurentian’s exciting freshman guard 6’2″ Kadre Gray had another explosive offensive effort, culminating what is sure to be a National Freshman-of-the-Year honor with a season/career-high 39 points – 24 in the second half – for the Voyageurs, adding 9 rebounds and 6 assists but Voyageurs lack of higher quality paint-area presence and depth was too much to overcome against Ottawa.  Gray will look to that next step toward full national prominence as he and the Voyageurs grow into a program that is consistently competitive in and even win games like this.  More paint area presence is likely required to help make this happen.  Vees lose just 6’5″ William Yengue from their improving roster that will get back another key piece in D2 transfer 5’10” Mitch Mazzuca – injured all season – and appear set to move up the OUA pecking order in the coming seasons.

Carleton 89, McMaster 50… Ravens pulled away early in the third with another patented offensive explosion, generally set-up by their suffocating “d”, in a route over the Marauders.  After Carleton jumped to a 16 point halftime lead led by 6’1″ Kaza Kajami-Keane‘s fine decision-making and finishing, Ravens held McMaster to just 5 points over the final 8 minutes of the third quarter:  part of a 31-7 run to lead by 39 early in the fourth.  6’10” Eddie Ekiyor was very active offensively, especially in the third quarter when he followed up a miss with a two-handed put-back slam dunk, coming seemingly out of nowhere through a crowd, a move that awoke the crowd and then shortly thereafter Ekiyor took a slick draw-and-dish feed from 6’4″ Connor Wood (game-high 17 points on 6-8 shooting) for a two-handed jam inside and the route was on.  Keene was at his best early when it was still a game, controlling play with his decision making – the OUA POY award candidate played just 8 minutes in the second half after scoring 14 of his 16 and garnering 6 of his game-high 9 assists before halftime.  Rapidly-maturing Ekiyor more importantly did a terrific job limiting the looks of Marauders 6’7″ forward Connor Gilmore as did the combination of 6’7″ Ryan Ejim and 6’5″ Mitch Wood for McMaster’s 6’4″ fifth-year senior Rohan Boney.  The combination of Gilmore and Boney, Mac’s two leading scorers averaging a collective 34.3 points per game, each had just 4 points after three-quarters last night in a dominant Carleton defensive effort.  6’2″ David McCulloch was tough for McMaster, scoring 14 points against constant ball pressure from Ravens 6’4″ Marcus Anderson, but was just 1 for 8 from three as Marauders finished just 3 for 24 from beyond the arc and shot just 28% for the game.  In fact, Mac got to the foul line 29 times as the skewed foul count:  Carleton 26, McMaster 17 helped get the Marauders to 50 points scored.  In fact, McMaster had just 3 field goals in the final 18 minutes of the game and their final bucket with just under 8 minutes left to play, scoring their final 10 points on the foul line.  The loss ends the careers of Boney and 6’4″ Lazar Kojovic for McMaster, leaving Gilmore and McCulloch as the foundation for next season and beyond; the rest of last night’s supporting cast went just 6 for 19 for Mac.  Ravens now prepare to face Brock Badgers in one Wilson Cup semi-final with the victor clinching a trip to the U-Sport Final 8 in Halifax.

Ryerson 87, Nipissing 62… Rams pulled away late in the second quarter with a 19-4 run in the final three minutes to close the half and later led by as many as 28 in bringing the Lakers most successful season in their history to an end.  Nipissing led 23-19 early in the second when 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa (game-high 22 points) led a 10-0 run with 8 points including a pair of threes.  Later, Diressa and 6’5″ lefty Filip Vujadinovic (20 points including 4-8 from downtown off the bench) keyed the quarter-ending run with Vujadinovic adding a dunk during the run.  Nipissing could not overcome 25 turnovers against constant Rams pressure and made just 2 of their final 22 attempts from 3, shooting just 32% overall including just 13-47 after a 7 for 15 start that helped provide them the early 4 point lead.  Rams now prepare for their rematch against uOttawa Gee-Gees also in Ottawa however this time on a neutral floor at the Raven’s Nest next Friday night.


AUS: Curcic leads MUN to win at Acadia, becomes Seahawks third all-time scorer

Memorial 84, Acadia 74… The Seahawks broke the game open with a 20-4 run during a five-minute span late in the third quarter as 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic finished his historic Memorial career as the school’s 3rd all-time leading scorer in a win in Wolfville that allowed for a weekend split between the two teams.  Curcic finished with a game-high 27 points and added 14 rebounds, completing his AUS career with 1,410 career points, third in school history behind Jeff Saxby (1,452) and current MUN Head Coach Peter Benoite (1,429).

Acadia did get it to within 4 midway through the fourth, however Seahawks again pulled away and will likely finish in fourth place as these teams are likely to meet again in the first round of the AUS tournament this coming Friday night.  This will be decided tonight in Sydney – if Saint Mary’s defeats the hometown Capers, SMU finishes third and Axemen & Seahawks will meet again.  However a SMU loss would probably give third to Memorial – the teams split a pair of games this season in St.John’s and assuming head-to-head point spread is the tie breaker, a Saint Mary’s loss tonight would put Memorial in third place and set up a first-round game between #3 Seahawks and #6 St. FX.  X plays what amounts to a meaningless game tonight in Antigonish against UPEI Panthers.

6’5″ Kyle Arsenault, playing his final home game of his fine career, led the way for the Axemen with 20 points while fifth-year graduating senior A.J. Simmons was also given the start in his final home game.

AUS: First round tournament pairings to be decided today

Dalhousie 90, UPEI 75… Tigers shot 50% from the floor and had 19 assists on 31 total makes in an easy win over the visiting Panthers in a game that was over midway through the second quarter.  After UPEI tied the game for the final time at 12-12 with 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Dalhousie took off on a 29-4 run to lead by 25 with 5 minutes left in the first half started by reserves 6’2″ Warren Liang with back-to-back 3’s and 6’9″ Sasha Kappos.  It was a memorable Senior’s Day send off for Tigers stalwards 5’11” Ritchie Kanza Mata, 6’2″ Kashrell Lawrence, 6’3″ Jarred Reid and 6’8″ Ryall Stroud as Tigers have clinched a first-round bye at the AUS tournament and await the winner of one of the two semi-final match-ups that will be determined after play this afternoon and tonight (see more below).

UNB 85, St. FX 74… X lost their fifth in a row as 6’0″ Javon Masters went off for 27 points and 6’2″ Hess Meyele added 18 off the bench.  X was 2 for 18 from downtown and will finish 6th in the AUS standings regardless of the outcome of tonight’s final home game against UPEI Panthers.  V-Reds finish second in the AUS and receive a first-round bye.

Acadia 97, Memorial 82… Axemen retained their shot at third place with a four-point home win in which they dominated from the beginning, jumping to an early 20+ point lead.  The teams meet again this afternoon and an Axemen victory coupled with a loss by Saint Mary’s at Cape Breton tonight gives Acadia third place and a first round AUS tournament date with St. FX.  Conversely, these teams could also meet in the first round of the AUS tournament and will do so if SMU defeats Cape Breton tonight.

Saint Mary’s 94, Cape Breton 78… Playing their entire 12 man roster almost evening, the Huskies had 5 players in double figures and led by as many as 24 points in a win in Sydney.  Huskies got 45 points from their bench.  The teams meet again tonight and with a win, SMU will draw St. FX in the first round of the AUS tournament.

AUS Standings

Dalhousie 16-4, 44 points

UNB 14-6, 40 points


Saint Mary’s 12-7, 32 points

Acadia 10-9, 30 points

Memorial 11-8, 28 points

St. FX 8-11, 26 points


UPEI 6-13, 16 points

Cape Breton 0-19, 0 points

Games Today:

3 PM AT/2 PM ET:  Memorial at Acadia (4 point game)

8 PM AT/7 PM ET:  Saint Mary’s at Cape Breton; UPEI at St. FX

Previewing Saturday OUA Quarter-Finals

With eight of the top 9 seeds still alive in the OUA playoffs, Saturday’s quarter-finals are arguably the most pivotal of the post-season – winners advance to next weekend’s Wilson Cup where even with a loss, some teams may retain a chance to qualify for the Final 8 via the “at large” bid.  A loss Saturday night in the quarter-finals however would likely erase any practical chance at a wild card.

Favorably, the OUA has allowed for some staggering of game times including, for fans in the Nation’s Capital, afternoon and evening affairs.  Here is one take on the match-ups on Saturday:

2 PM ET in St. Catharines

#5 Toronto at #4 Brock… Badgers are riding an 11-game winning streak as their depth and outstanding play from 6’7″ Dani Elgadi have put them clearly in the discussion for a Wilson Cup championship – a marked difference from this time last season when a younger, thinner roster wore down as the season progress and Badgers were hammered in an OUA quarter-final game at Carleton.  With what is expected to be a jammed Bob Davis Gym providing energy, Brock welcomes a solid U of T Varsity Blues team that pushed the Badgers in their only other meeting of the season in early November in St. Catharines.  That night, Brock led by 14 with 4 minutes left only to see the Blues pull to within 4 with a minute left and then 1 with 3 seconds left before Brock won 71-69 in a game that “featured” a ridiculous 57 foul calls between the two teams.  Toronto had met a rested Brock group after playing at home vs. Ryerson the night prior.  The game features two of the top players in the conference in Elgadi and 6’5″ Devin Johnson but expect guard play to be key with Blues 6’3″ Sage Usher matching up with emerging sophomore guard 5’11” Tyler Brown, who has become a 30+ minutes per game point guard for coach Charles Kissi.  Blues got some help off their bench on Wednesday night but practically speaking need their first five to play major minutes and contribute.  Brock goes 7 or 8 deep with quality but will likely need Brown to log major minutes at the point.  How this game is officiated will go a long way in determining the outcome.

3 PM ET in Ottawa at Montpetit Hall

#7 Laurentian at #2 Ottawa… The explosive Voyageurs, with their dynamic backcourt led by 6’2″ Kadre Gray and 6’3″ David Aromolaran come off a solid home win over Laurier and could present some issues to Gee-Gees perimeter “d”.  However, defensive rebounding and generally inconsistent paint-area play have plagued the Voyageurs, who will need a big game from 6’5″ Nelson Yengue especially.  Expect Ottawa to pound the ball inside to 6’9″ Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles and 6’7″ Brody Maracle with both hoping shake the memory of a abhorrent performance from the free throw line against Ryerson this past Saturday night.  Gee-Gees are also struggling with injuries as 6’6″ fifth-year wing Matt Plunkett hurt his calf late in Saturday’s OT loss to Ryerson and 1st team all-star candidate 6’3″ Caleb Agada has missed virtually all of the past two weeks with a deep thigh bruise.  Needless to say both are vital to Ottawa’s rotation.  This will be the third meeting of the season between these two long-time rivals going back to the Peter Campbell days in the late 80’s, where one of his best players was Voyageurs current coach Shawn Swords – Gee-Gees won both prior games this season rather comfortably.

8 PM ET in Toronto at Mattamy Center

#6 Nipissing at #3 Ryerson… Lakers are looking to continue what has been a breakout season under coach Chris Cheng, aided by a strong, deep group of athletic wings and guards + one of the most impactful pick-ups of the season in 6’8″ Justin Shaver.  Still, Lakers had a difficult time at home closing out the Gaels before holding on.  Ryerson comes off a fruitful weekend in Ottawa as Rams stayed in the game until the final possession at Carleton and then got tremendous games from their likely pair of 1st Team All-Stars in 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa and 6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly in an OT win at Ottawa.  The re-entry into the rotation of 6’8″ Adam Voll has been somewhat-underappreciated as the long, active center provides rim protection and a presence on the glass plus offensively Voll can step out and knock down shots, potentially providing a challenging match-up for Shaver.  Rams dominated the first game, building an early double digit lead to a 26-point halftime cushion, winning handily in Toronto in November.

8 PM ET in Ottawa at Raven’s Nest

#9 McMaster at #1 Carleton… Marauders had a season-defining win at Windsor on Wednesday after 6’4″ Rohan Boney went to work with 11 of his 18 points down the stretch.  Boney presents some match-up problems with his quickness and length backing down smaller opponents.  Expect 6’4″ Marcus Anderson, Carleton’s emerging young lock-down defender, to spend ample time checking Boney.  6’7″ Connor Gilmore is another tough matchup with his ability to knock down 3’s and rebound.  Ravens broke to a 26 point lead midway through the third quarter of their regular season meeting in November – also played at the Raven’s Nest – before some late Marauder three-point shooting made the score closer – Mac did get it back to within 7 with just under a minute to play.  Expect the offense to run through 6’2″ Kaza Keane for Carleton however as always Ravens ability to defend and rebound will be Mac’s greatest challenge.

RSEQ: Redmen pull away at Laval with dominant defensive effort

McGill 62, Laval 45… Redmen completely locked down the home-town Rouge et Or down the stretch, holding Laval to just 2 made free throws in the final 6 1/2 minutes in a decisive win.  Laval now must defeat Concordia in Montreal and have Bishop’s upset UQAM on Senior’s night to have any chance at finishing 3rd.  After 6’0″ Karl Demers-Belanger, playing on his Senior’s night, banked in a long 3 from the top of the bowl to bring the game to 48-43 McGill, Redmen did not allow another field goal and finished the game on a 14-2 run to complete their regular season at 13-3.  In fact, after getting the game to 1 on a slick baseline drive and dunk by 6’5″ forward Charles-Andre Edorh with 2 minutes left in the third, Rouge et Or scored only 5 points in the final 12 minutes of play. 6’0″ Jenning Leung went 5-8 from three to finish with a game-high 17 points for McGill while 6’4″ Daniel Pieper and 6’8″ Noah Daoust adding 11 apiece – those 3 combined to shoot 10 for 16 from downtown.  Redmen played without the services of 6’1″ Isaiah Cummins, 6’9″ Sebastien Beckett and of course 6’1″ Kendrick Jolin who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.  Unless things change dramatically, these two teams will meet again a week from tonight in the RSEQ semi-finals.

On Wednesday, Concordia won at Bishop’s 79-76 despite shooting just 2 for 15 from downtown.  6’5″ Abdul Kamane led all scorers with 18 points as the Stingers remain comfortably in 2nd place and would meet UQAM in an RSEQ semi-final should the standings remain as they are.  If the Stingers win at home on Saturday against Laval OR UQAM defeats Bishop’s later that same night, Concordia and UQAM will meet in the semi-finals.


Marauders pull away at Windsor, shake off memories of last 2 seasons

McMaster 71, Windsor 63… Getting a tremendous effort from their big three of 6’7″ Connor Gilmore, 6’1″ David McCulloch and 6’4″ Rohan Boney, the Marauders rode a 17-4 fourth-quarter run to break a tie enabling McMaster to exorcise the proverbial demons from the past two seasons with a road victory at Windsor.  Boney had 11 of his 17 points in the final 7 minutes including two free throws to give Mac the lead for good and then punctuated the night with a three-pointer and later a dunk that extended the lead to 11.  Gilmore also had 17 points including a huge three that gave Mac a 55-50 lead and they were never headed after that.  Windsor shot just 6 of 34 from downtown including a combined 2 for 17 from 5’10” Mike Rocca and 6’7″ Luke Allin, who returned from a bronchitis ailment.  Marauders were well worthy of the victory and move on to Ottawa on Saturday night to face #1 Carleton Ravens at the Raven’s Nest.

Toronto 82, Lakehead 61… Varsity Blues came off a rough weekend in Ottawa with a strong defensive performance and the usual offensive contribution from 6’5″ Devin Johnson (18 points, 12 rebounds) to win decisively at home against Lakehead.  Thunderwolves 6’5″ forward Bacarius Dinkins found himself saddled with two early fouls and played just 3 first-half minutes as Lakehead fell behind as many as 15.  Dinkins had a strong second half but it was not enough to offset the early rough start.  Lakehead’s 6’5″ fifth-year senior Alexandre Robichaud also was in foul trouble early and, playing without the services of injured 5’11” point guard Henry Tan, the Blues pushed to a dominant halftime advantage and kept a double digit lead throughout the final 20 minutes in a solid home win at the Goldring Center.  Blues now travel to Brock for a Saturday affair against #4 Badgers at the Bob Davis Gym in what is expected to be a sell-out crowd.

Nipissing 77, Queen’s 74… 6’4″ Marcus Lewis was dominant with a near-triple double (12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) and 6’8″ Justin Shaver added 17 points on 8-10 shooting off the bench as the Lakers held on to win their first-ever playoff game.  After trailing by as many as 22 points early in the fourth quarter, the Gaels nearly came all the way back as 6’7″ Tanner Graham had a tremendous look at a game-tying three late off a fine feed from 6’3″ Sukhpreet Singh that rimmed out.  Singh finished his fine career with 31 points in the loss as for the second consecutive season, Queen’s lost a tough, one possession road playoff game.  Nipissing will face #3 Ryerson Rams in Toronto on Saturday night at the Mattamy Center.

Laurentian 88, Laurier 72… 6’5″ Nelson Yengue had all 14 of his points in the first half as the Voyageurs took a double digit lead and then 6’2″ Kadre Gray (18 of his game-high 26 points) took over in the second half as Laurentian cruised at home.  Vees led by as many as 14 in the first half and were ahead comfortably until 5’10” Tevaun Kokko got going (17 of his 24 points came after halftime); Kokko’s basket midway through the third got it back to 7 but it was as close as the Golden Hawks would get as Gray and 6’3″ David Aromolaran (23 points) helped Laurentian pull away.  Laurier shot just 35% and got zero points from starting fifth-year center Matt Chesson.  Laurentian now gets set to meet #2 Ottawa Gee-Gees at 3 PM ET on Saturday at Montpetit Hall.