The Canada West Playoff Picture –
The standings at the Christmas break are shown above, and the teams that leap out are the front-runners, the Dinos, the Cascades, and the Bisons, then the trio of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC who are wallowing in the 7-8-9 spots in the Pioneer. What if we were starting the newly structured playoffs from here ?
It’s early, yes, but ” We need clarification “, said our fervent ‘band of basketball brothers’, at a ‘regular meeting’ prior to yet another high school game. So we follow with a draw which may do the trick; we have real teams!
How would things play out ? Well, it might be unlikely, but … Alberta, UBC, Brandon, Trinity W. miss the playoffs in the Pioneer. OK, OK … calm down … it’s a simulation, an example ! And MacEwan sits out with UNBC in the Explorer (maybe !).
We follow the rankings, and advance the top-seeded teams, Mt. Royal and Lethbridge in the ‘play-in series’ (in this simulation) … and we arrive at the quarter-finals, hosted by the higher-ranked teams. Again, we have the ‘ favourites’, UFV, UVic, Manitoba, and Calgary move on to the Final Four, which is held in Calgary, the highest – ranked of the 4.
Is this a possible Final 4 ? Yes, but it could be pure fiction, with 1/2 the schedule left to play.
That’s enough. You get the idea. This is simply to bring the draw to life. We do expect there to be some changes in the standings between now and the middle of February. Too early to make ‘real’ picks.
So, the 11 Pioneer teams compete for 7 playoff spots, with 3 of these (the 7-9-10 seeds) being involved in the best of 3 game ‘Play-in Series’. Just a little warm-up for the consequent 8 -team Quarter-Finals, which follow the next weekend.
The Pioneer teams get 3 of the 4 top seeds, and 5 of the top 7. Their 3rd place team are home for the ‘Play-in series’, then only the 1st place Explorer team has a home court beyond that, barring major upset. They do , however, have a shot at hosting the Canada West Final Four … if the top seed should lose, and Fraser Valley (let’s say) should win, we’re headed to Abbotsford !
Is it the hockey mentality in the West ? Why are we embarking on 2 weekends of Best of 3 series ? Why torture the lower seeds in such a manner? The prize is another best of 3 at either the # 1 or # 2 seed ? Then we play a 3rd weekend with the Final Four, and 2 more games.
Contrast that with the other 3 CIS Leagues in the East –
Ontario – 4 Divisions of 4 or 5 teams (17 total – the same as Canada West). The top 3 teams from each Division make it in to play-offs, and are seeded 1 through 12. First round – single game eliminator, preliminary round, with #9 @ #8 , #10 @ #7, #11 @ #6, and #12 @ #5. The top 4 seeds get byes to Round 2 – A – Winner 9/8 at 1st seed, B- winner 10/7 @ #2, C- winner 11/6 @ #3, and D- winner 12/5 at #4.
Carleton and Ottawa are already the heavy favourites to play in the OUA Wilson Cup Final.
Those 4 OUA winners go to the Wilson Cup Final Four – at highest seeded team. Semi-Final 1 has Winner of A vs winner D, and Semi 2 has winners B and C tipping off. That’s 3 games Maximum to get to the OUA Final.
In the Quebec League – they have only 5 teams, with 4 in the demi- finales … puis, a demain, la grande finale ! Deux jeux … c’est tout !
Then we have the intensity of the annual Atlantic Tournament in Halifax – 6 teams out of 8, with seeds 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 in the quarter-finals on Friday … the winners of these 2 go up against # 1 and # 2 in the Saturday Semis, then the winners there play in the Sunday Final. 3 games … Champion !
The distances for travel in Canada West are influential in playoff scheduling, and can be a factor in Ontario. The Quebec teams are always a short bus trip away (many times by City bus !). The AUS have had the same format for some time, and the single game knock-out breeds excitement and upsets. Relatively speaking, Canada West is a bit of a torture test.
Canada West ‘Holiday ‘ games this week –
Brett Rouault and the TRU Wolf Pack head South for 3 games this week.
- Thompson Rivers are playing at Bellingham, WA against Western Washington on Monday . The Wolf Pack vs Rocky Mountain College of Billings, MT on Thurs. in Phoenix, AZ, then they meet Carroll College, MT on Friday , again in AZ.
- Trinity Western is in California on Tuesday/ Weds. , with their 1st game at Cal St.- San Marcos, and the 2nd at Costa Mesa vs Vanguard Univ. The Spartans play at La Mirada, CA on Sat. vs Biola U.
- Lethbridge is also in Phoenix – vs Cal.St. -San Marcos on Thurs., Arizona Christian on Friday, and Concordia U. (Irvine, CA) on Saturday.
- MacEwan, are in the Phoenix area and up against Montana Western on Thursday, U. Great Falls , Friday, and Montana St.-Northern on Saturday.
(Are exams now over at these schools ? Maybe they write fewer tests than at other campuses ? )