The regular season is over and the playoffs have been set. In this special edition of Canada West Takeaways I will examine each individual playoff series and determine the likelihood of each team coming away with the win in their respective three game series over the next two weekends. In the Canada West each team who makes the playoffs then needs to play a three game series in order to gain passage to the final four. Only four teams – Manitoba, Calgary, Winnipeg, or TRU will have to play in two of these playoff series due to their low seeds.
After dominant regular season’s for the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies each team gets a one week break and will wait to see who their opponent will be next weekend. For the Cascades they will play the winner of the series between the University of Manitoba Bisons and the University of Calgary Dinos. While the Huskies will either play the University of Winnipeg or the TRU WolfPack. For predictions for these series look no further than below.
- The University of Winnipeg Wesmen at the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (February 19th, 20th, and 21st*)
The Wesmen enter series as the sixth seed in the Pioneers division and while they may perhaps be the favourite on paper will have to travel all the way to BC in order to meet up with the WolfPack. On the other hand the WolfPack were the third and final seed from the Explorers division to qualify for the playoffs and had to fight for their lives at the end. The WolfPack ended their season with a road series against the UFV Cascades and after losing game one needed a game two win in order to past Mount Royal for the third playoff spot. They came up with the clutch win but is it enough momentum to carry them past a Wesmen team that had one more win in the regular season in a tougher division. The two teams matchup well with one another with size on size, which could make for a compelling series for the fans of Canada West basketball. The problem is that neither team will make it past the University of Saskatchewan in the next round especially after the Huskies week long rest. I will give the Wesmen the slight edge when it comes to the WolfPack but not a chance against the Huskies. I give the Wesmen a 65% chance of winning this series – and I peg it at a three game series that will look, on paper, a lot closer than it is.
- The University of Manitoba Bisons and the University of Calgary Dinos (February 20th, 21st, and 22nd*)
Both these teams have fallen and fallen badly. I had so much faith in this little programs finding a way against the top tier Alberta’s and Victoria’s of the league at one point. My faith however in both has been shattered. How can you go from being the top team in your division to the last playoff team in a little over a month? What happened Manitoba? Seven straight losses and only one win in their last ten games. 1-9 since I called them the favourite to go to nationals. Way to make me look bad. While Calgary hasn’t been a huge model of consistency either since the break, they have won at least two more games than Manitoba. I don’t know what to say about this teams that have fallen so hard and so fast from grace. Either way like the above series I am predicting that both teams will lose to the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades next weekend so the actual winner doesn’t really matter. They split games in the regular season so that provides no help to my prediction. In the end I ultimately go with the team that has the better player which is Jarrod Ogungbemi-Jackson on Calgary. In my eyes that gives Calgary the 80% chance of winning this series, and I think once again it will happen in two games.
- The University of Northern British Columbia at the University of British Columbia (February 26th, 27th, and 28th*)
This is just another bad series in my mind UBC at home in front of their fans with refs from BC … please UNBC doesn’t stand a chance. The second place Explorers team fought hard and does have two weeks to prepare for the Thunderbirds but it won’t be enough it never is. The name UBC is by far the most popular in Western Canada and holds a lot of merit here on the west coast … a lot. That’s it why I don’t see a situation where the Timberwolves can hope to defeat the powerhouse that is UBC – a school that has a population over 60,000 students, it’s like a small town, will no doubt be able to pack the stands a make life hard for the Timberwolves. This series is indeed one that I can’t see UNBC winning which is why I am giving the Thunderbirds the highest probability of winning this weekend of any team – 95%. I am giving the Thunderbirds a 95% of winning at home against the Timberwolves and being the first team to punch their ticket to the final four.
- The University of Alberta Golden Bears at the University of Victoria Vikes (February 26th, 27th, and 28th*)
Of the four series I would categorize them as follows. Two are watchable but with bad teams that will ultimately not make it into the final four. One is a series with a team that is just, by far, better than their opponent which will make for a less than stellar two-game series. And the fourth, well the fourth is just bonkers good. The series that will easily take the cake for the most entertaining may see the end of the University of Alberta as a powerhouse in Canada West men’s basketball. It will feature star vs. star, in Chris McLaughlin leading his team against Joel Friesen, and powerhouse coach vs. powerhouse coach, in Barnaby Craddock and Craig Beaucamp. The level of basketball played in this series will be top notch between these two teams and the competition will be on a level like no other. The probability of winning goes to the Vikes, but by a hair, I am giving them a 55% edge only due to their home court advantage which they had when they swept Alberta back in November. This will almost absolutely go to three games and should be the main attraction for Canada West basketball fans over the next two weekends.