We hope to have more detailed set of previews in advance of Thursday’s games and hope that our readers will consider making the trip to Halifax for some wonderful hospitality, tremendous food & drink and the best University basketball players and coaches our country has to offer.
11 AM ET/Noon Atlantic: #3 McGill vs. #6 UNB… U-Sports all-time leading scorer and one of the favorites for the Moser Award, 6’0″ Javon Masters leads his Varsity Reds into the Final 8 with their first AUS men’s basketball crown since 1967 – 51 years !!! Masters was key down the stretch of Sunday’s championship game against X as V-Reds appeared to wear down their opponents with a deeper bench. Both teams have had success playing 9-10 guys over the course of their games this season with McGill consistently deploying full court pressure for much of the season en route to the RSEQ championship. However, Masters is a “master” at quickly getting to a high gear with the ball to go north-south to quickly break presses and playing fast in transition – one of the interesting pieces here will be the extent to which Redmen utilize their vaunted press – they have done so all season long without reservation against any and all opponents so expect the formula to remain the same. Redmen turned over RSEQ league opponents at an average of 23.1 per game including 15 of 16 games of 18 or more turnovers (13 games of 20+).
1 PM ET/2 PM Atlantic: #2 Calgary vs. #7 Brock… Dinos were very solid, getting 32 points from 5’11” foruth-year guard David Kapinga, in their Canada West championship win over favored Alberta right in Edmonton and appear to have the advantage at the guard spot which for Calgary includes Canada West Defensive Player-of-the-Year 6’0″ fifth-year guard Jhony Verrone. Badgers look to shake off a mediocre shooting effort in the OUA semi-final and have the experienced talent and athleticism up front to put the pressure on the Dinos front line. One of the more interesting first round match-ups.
5 PM ET/6 PM Atlantic: #4 Alberta vs. #5 Ryerson… Golden Bears bring a decided GTA flavor to this classic match-up against the Rams from downtown Toronto. Alberta features 6’7″ Brody Clarke (Oakwood/Toronto, son of T-Dot high school legend Norman Clarke), 6’2″ Dwan Williams (Oakwood/Toronto), 6’2″ Andre Kelly (son of former Brandon Bobcat All-Canadian Jude Kelly, Hamilton/Burlington). Rams roster is dotted with GTA stars including 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa. Both teams are well coached, athletic and talented in what could be the most entertaining and tightest of all first round match-ups.
7 PM ET/6 PM Atlantic: #1 Carleton vs. #8 Acadia… Host Axemen did a great job of dealing with Carleton pressure and were in the game at the Raven’s Nest during the House-Laughton Invitational in October – down only 5 early in the fourth before succumbing. Acadia has a victory over McGill to their credit earlier this season in early October when Axemen shot over 50% from three. Given how difficult it is to get to the rim against Carleton, shots have to be made and Acadia, when right, has shown a propensity to make threes in bunches. Carleton will look to attack inside so expect 6’8″ Rhys Larry, who played 34 minutes and had a 10 point/11 rebound double double in the October game in Ottawa to see more time, possibly even start to help 6’10” Erik Nissen inside against 6’11” Cam Smythe and 6’9 3/4″ Eddie Ekiyor (congrats to Taffe Charles on his #1 ranking for women’s tournament).