Volume 92, Issue 90

Thursday, March 18, 1999


Canada's basketball madness

Canada's basketball madness

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
WALKING ON AIR! The Mustang men's basketball team has been walking on air of late as they have flown by the competition on their way to Halifax for the national championships.

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette

RISING TO THE TOP. The Mustangs, like Chris Brown [54], will have to rise to the occasion and use every advantage they have, including longer arms, to succeed in the Final Eight.

By John Dinner

Gazette Staff

March Madness is in full swing, as the show heads to Halifax this weekend for the Final Eight of the CIAU men's basketball championships.

The last eight teams left in the country include six division winners and two teams who, based on their regular season performance, are getting a second shot with wild card births.

That field includes the Mustang men, ranked second in the nation and Ontario University Athletics champions. Two other OUA teams will be making the trip, as the Ryerson Rams, OUA East champs and rival McMaster Marauders, who received a wild card for their record (10-4) and No. 4 ranking in Canada.

Others making their way to the big dance will be the defending champ Bishop's Gaiters, who were the big winners out of Quebec; the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and Canada West champs the Alberta Bears; the Brandon Bobcats, winners in the Great Plains; and the host Saint Mary's Huskies, who took the Atlantic Conference. The Victoria Vikes nabbed the other wild card, as they spent much of the regular season as the No. 1 team in the country.

"There's no question that this is our second chance and we know it," said McMaster head coach Joe Raso. "We were fairly confident that we were going to be awarded the card because of our regular season play. And once all the guaranteed seeds were determined, we felt it was ours because everyone we needed to win, won."

Once all the games wrapped up on Sunday evening it became the job of a panel of coaches to decide the seeding for the tournament. With one playing eight, two playing seven and so on, the decision process became very important.

After Saturday's win, Mustang head coach Craig Boydell was unsure about getting the top seed.

"It'll be tough to get that No. 1 seed because Alberta hasn't played in a week, but we can hope. The No. 7 seed will probably be a team from the east and to play against them in the first game could be tough," Boydell said, referring to the fact the team from the east will probably fill the 8,000 seat arena.

Not surprisingly, it was Alberta grabbing the top seed and they will take on Ryerson. Western was seeded second and as expected, the seventh seed went to St. Mary's. The wild cards of Victoria and McMaster, seeded three and six respectively, will square off in the first round and fourth seeded Brandon will battle with Bishop's.

"There's going to be a lot of distractions this week and there's so much parity in the country that there are no real favourites," said Alberta head coach Don Harwood. "It's going to be about head games and it's going to come down to who can control the distractions."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999