With U-Sports men’s Final 8 just about a week and a half away, three teams (Alberta, Calgary and host Acadia) have officially qualified for the tournament with five more spots in the four-day championship event still at stake: AUS tournament champion (or runner-up if Acadia wins AUS tournament/decided either Saturday night or Sunday), RSEQ champion (determined this coming Saturday) and two spots from OUA (to be decided on Wednesday night) plus the seemingly-always-controversial “wild card/at large bid” to be announced next Sunday night.
In advance of this very exciting two week period, we present our current view of the Top 10 in the country.
#1 Carleton (30-0)… Ravens pulled away late in the third quarter for a tough win over a very well-prepared and energized Laurentian group playing without two starters in 6’2″ Kadre Gray, an All-Canadian candidate, and 6’3″ J.D. West. Carleton’s depth and versatility has kept them undefeated ahead of Wednesday’s OUA semi-final at home against Windsor, where a win would help them qualify for their 16th consecutive Final 8 and 17th in the past 18 seasons.
#2 Alberta (27-1)… A quality sweep over a solid Lethbridge side firmly entrenches the Golden Bears at number two ahead of next weekend’s Canada West championship game in Edmonton against Calgary Dinos. Although both teams have qualified for the Final 8, this game is very likely to impact seedings at the National tournament.
#3 Brock (25-3)… Badgers dominated Laurier last night at home breaking to a 53-14 lead by creating turnovers and getting a balanced offensive attack. Brock’s first five are as good as any in the country and Badgers, shunned last season in the wild card, look to erase all doubts with a victory at home this Wednesday against a very good Ryerson Rams side. Brock won at Ryerson in overtime before the holidays and also had a comfortable win at home over the Rams at the Brock RBC Classic in October. Badgers have only lost once since the Holidays, a late season set-back at Windsor which, after Lancers decisive playoff win at Western that puts them one win away from a Nationals berth, is less detrimental in any wild card discussion.
#4 Calgary (25-5)… Dinos swept UBC this weekend and clinched their third consecutive trip to the Final 8; in fact Calgary won all four games against their Canada West rivals this season and the only blemishes on their record are a pair of losses to #2 Alberta (home-and-home), at Lethbridge in OT, at Brandon and, in the pre-season, an 82-70 loss to #3 Brock. Dinos have a chance to improve their ranking on Saturday and avenge two earlier losses to the Golden Bears in the Canada West championship game in Edmonton on Saturday night.
#5 Dalhousie (26-5)… Tigers pulled away to capture the AUS pennant by a full eight points in the standings. Dalhousie has three losses to Acadia, one to St. FX and one at Queen’s in Kingston in the pre-season. Quality wins include a two-game sweep over UNB and a victory over Lethbridge in Kingston on a neutral court. Tigers have won five of their last six games and are 14-3 in their past 17 games.
#6 McGill (19-4)… Redmen again have proven to be the class of the RSEQ but still need to take care of an improved Bishop’s side and, if they win the semi-final, contend with either Concordia or Laval in Saturday’s championship game. Redmen have won 18 of their past 20 games including a quality non-conference win at home against Ottawa. McGill’s other two losses came in early October at the Calgary Cup against the host Dinos and Acadia Axemen.
#7 Ryerson (20-8)… Rams are hitting their stride as 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa continues to show he is the best pure scorer in the country and 6’8″ Adam Voll, an underrated piece up front who has suffered through an injury plagued season, returns to top form. As well, 6’7″ J.V. Mukama has had what for him has been an ordinary season but the slick wing forward was instrumental in last night’s win at uOttawa and appears on track to finish the season strong. Ryerson has won 9 of their past 10 after a three-game losing streak on the road to start the second half. Early season losses included loss at Brock (non-conference and in OT), two point loss to Calgary – both of which were without Diressa – and a loss at Western in Diressa’s first game back. This is a different team when all pieces are healthy and is led by a player who can win games virtually by himself.
#8 UBC (24-5)… T-Birds have been eliminated from Canada West playoff action after a two-game sweep in Calgary including a Game One blowout at the hands of the Dinos. UBC did shake off a second tough start in Game Two to make a game of it but went 0-4 against Calgary this season. Their only other loss was in OT at Lethbridge. UBC’s best non-conference win was by two points over Western at the Saskatchewan pre-season tournament. Other than their games against Calgary and Lethbridge, the combined records of the other 14 teams representing the other 23 wins in UBC’s season is 146-233 (.385) with only four of those teams having records of .500 or better (Western 18-11 – eliminated in OUA quarter-final, Manitoba 16-12 swept by UBC in CW quarter-final, UVic 17-14 lost in CW “play-in” round, Regina 16-15 lost in CW quarter-final). T-Birds await this week’s results with the hope that a wild card possibility remains.
#9 UNB (24-6)… Led by the all-time leading scorer in U-Sports history, 6’0″ Javon Masters, the Reds finished second in the AUS, receiving a first round bye at this weekend’s conference tournament in Halifax where they look to win their first post-season game in the Masters era. UNB had their chances for an AUS regular season pennant vanish with Friday’s rather decisive home loss to Dalhousie, a team they were swept by in AUS regular season play. V-Reds have dominated Saint Mary’s, winning all four AUS regular season games plus a pre-season win over the Huskies at UNB’s Eric Garland tournament. Other than Saint Mary’s, Reds have just one other win over a team with an above .500 record (Acadia). Reds losses have come to Dalhousie twice, at Acadia by 12, at home to Memorial (5-21) 105-92, at Toronto (17-14) and at York (7-25). V-Reds are a combined 15-0 against Cape Breton, UPEI, Bishop’s, Guelph, Laval and Queen’s.
#10 Ottawa (24-8)… Gee-Gees are likely resigned to the fact that their season ended after last night’s tough loss at home to Ryerson when uOttawa, the worst free throw shooting team in the nation, shot just 12-24 from the stripe including 2 for 9 in the second half. However, uOttawa did hang in against the Rams, one of the best teams in the country (now that they are healthy) despite being thin with experience in the back court after 5’11” Sean Stoqua went down with a severe knee injury. Stoqua plans to have surgery within the next month and Ottawa hopes to have him back for the second half of next season if all goes well.