In what had to be one of the most difficult and controversial decisions in CIS/U-Sport “at-large” selection history, it took the committee almost two hours to finally select the Calgary Dinos as this season’s wild-card. Dinos (24-5) were about a minute and a half from elimination on Saturday night when 6’5″ Thomas Cooper scored 19 of his game high 31 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes including OT as Calgary captured the Canada West third-place game over Saskatchewan, keeping their “at-large” bid alive.
Almost concurrently, Brock Badgers (22-6) held on for a two point win over uOttawa Gee-Gees in the Wilson Cup Bronze medal game. From that moment forward, the wild card discussion began polarizing observers – with others believing a third team: UBC – without a playoff victory this season – also warranted the spot.
From all analysis, the committee was in an extremely difficult position. In the end – and this is strictly my interpretation * I have no knowledge of anything that was discussed about the wild card on the call *, it was *likely* determined that Brock’s two losses at Lakehead and at Nipissing – both team <.500 were more impact-ful than Calgary’s one loss at Regina. Again, this is strictly my conjecture. I’ve tried to lay-out below the main factors that were likely taken into consideration when making this obviously controversial and impossible-to-please-all decision.
To illustrate how difficult and tight the two teams were with regard to criteria as outlined on Martin Timmerman’s site, witness:
Season Records: Calgary 16-4, Brock 15-4
Strength of Schedule: Brock .603, Calgary .597
Record vs. teams in the Final 8: Calgary 2-3, Brock 2-3
Non-conference: Calgary 5-0, Brock 5-1
Top 10 rank average after 15th Nov: Calgary 3, Brock 4
Conference Record vs. > .800: Brock 1-2, Calgary 0-0
Conference Record vs. > .650: Calgary 4-4, Brock 2-3
Conference Record vs. .500 or better: Calgary 8-4, Brock 4-3
Conference Record vs. <.500: Calgary 11-1, Brock 13-2
Virtual gridlock looking at this body of data….
Also of note: of Dinos five losses, 3 were to Nationals participants (Manitoba 2x and Alberta). Of Badgers six losses, 3 were to Nationals participants (Carleton 2x, Dalhousie).
Badgers will also no doubt lament the fact that after last week’s Top 10, Brock was ranked #4, one spot ahead of Calgary and defeated #3 team Ottawa while Calgary lost at home to un-ranked (but red-hot) Manitoba before their victory over Saskatchewan.
This decision is no doubt frustrating to the wonderful fans at Brock especially as they did have a wonderful season and a body of work worthy of a trip to the Final 8. Unfortunately, it was deemed that Calgary’s “body-of-work” (as seems to be the catch-phrase) was just a thin shave more worthy.
In my view, future improvements to the decision-making process that are not to my knowledge currently considered could include:
- some element of overall strength of all 4 conferences. e.g. aggregate head-to-head records categorized by conference across all non-conference games
- records vs. common opponents
- home, away and neutral court records; road wins have a stronger weighting, home losses have the lowest weighting
- more incentive to play challenging non-conference schedules; for example, a minimum number of pre-season games to be played away from home.
Thus the Final 8 quarter-finals set up this way:
#1 Ryerson (22-4) vs. #8 Saint Mary’s (23-10)… Rams get #1 seed by virtue of their 2nd consecutive Wilson Cup championship, a road win at previously-#1 Carleton.
#2 Carleton (27-1) vs. #7 Calgary (24-5)… Dinos “reward” for wild card is a 2016 championship game re-match with Carleton in the first round.
#3 McGill (21-5) vs. #6 Manitoba (22-12)… Seedings properly reflect Bisons gettting a higher seed than Calgary, rewarding Manitoba for winning at Calgary on Friday night. Redmen get highest seed in history of their program.
#4 Alberta (25-10) vs. #5 Dalhousie (27-7)… Both teams won their conference championships and deserve these seeds at a minimum.
While the bracket has many partisan fans across the country upset and in some instances feeling outright robbed, this season’s tournament shapes up as one of the most controversial, news-worthy and potentially-exciting in many seasons. Hope fans can tune in and/or make their way to Halifax for the action.