(ISN) – The UVic Vikes will face some tough competition in the Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four this weeked at the University of Saskatchewan. Here is a preview of the Vikes and their competition, Saskatchewan, Fraser Valley and Alberta.
The No. 3 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies are set to host the Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four Friday and Saturday at the PAC.
Joining the Huskies at the championship will be the University of Victoria Vikes, the University of Fraser Valley Cascades and the University of Alberta Golden Bears. It is the first time in history the Huskies have hosted the Canada West Final Four.
The Vikes and Cascades will open the tournament Friday at 6:15 p.m., following will be a clash against the Huskies and Golden Bears at 8 p.m.
Winners of the two semifinal games move on to the Championship Final Saturday night at 8 p.m. The two losers will play for bronze. The two teams in the final move on to the CIS Championship March 9-11 in Halifax. A wildcard spot is also available for the CIS Championship.
All games will be played at the PAC and webcast on www.canadawest.tv For tickets, call 306-966-1111 or purchase online at huskies.usask.ca
No. 1 Seed – Saskatchewan Huskies
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies enter the Canada West Final Four as the top seed after finishing first in the conference for the first time in history with a 16-4 conference record in 2011-12.
This is the Huskies fifth trip to the Canada West championship tournament in recent years and third in a row. The Huskies have been ranked in the CIS Top 10 all season, ranked out of the Top 5 just once in the span. The impressive first place season also includes an 10 game conference winning streak that extends to 12 games in playoffs.
Saskatchewan flew through Canada West quarter-final competition with a sweep over the Trinity Western Spartans winning 98-83 and 111-97.
Hosting the Final Four at the PAC is a big advantage for the Huskies, who are 45-5 since 2009-10 in the building, and haven’t lost at home in conference or playoffs since November 7, 2010. The 22 game home win streak includes 13 games this season and another nine from 2010-11.
The Huskies will face the Alberta Golden Bears in the Canada West semifinal. Alberta is the only team to sweep Saskatchewan. In the second week of Canada West action, the Golden Bears took a 77-71 win and a 74-69 win over the Huskies in Edmonton. Since 2005-06, the Huskies are 16-16 against the Golden Bears in conference and playoff competition. The two haven’t met in a playoff game since 2008-09. Saskatchewan is 2-0 against the two other teams at the Final Four this season.
“We are very happy to be in the position to host the Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four, as it was one of the team goals we set at the beginning of the season, and we had to battle our way through the conference schedule in order to achieve it,” said Huskie head coach Barry Rawlyk. “Having the opportunity to play on our home court in front of all our fans is something that our players always enjoy, and having the chance to play the conference finals in front of our home town crowd is definitely something very special for our program. This is possibly the most evenly matched field of teams to reach a Canada West ever, and it should make for some very competitive and exciting games.”
Throughout the season, the Huskies spread the ball around to score by committee with four starters in double digits. As a team the Huskies after a conference-best 89.2 points per game. Reigning Canada West MVP Jamelle Barrett finished second in the conference in scoring averaging 21.1 points per game. Fifth-year players Peter Lomuro, Duncan Jones and Michael Lieffers bolster the Huskies’ offence. Lomuro averages 14.7, Jones 11.8 and Lieffers 13.4. Lieffers also led the Huskies and the Canada West with 11.2 rebounds per game.
No. 2 Seed – Victoria Vikes
Despite losing four players to graduation following the 2010-11 season, Victoria finished in first place in the pacific division in the Canada West with a 14-4 record and defeated the University of Calgary Dinos in three games. Victoria enters the weekend ranked No. 5 in the CIS.
The Vikes three game series victory in the quarter-final series came in dramatic fashion. Vike Terrell Evans found the net on a rebound as time expired to give the Vikes a 90-88 win last Sunday. Calgary had won Game 1 73-68, before Victoria forced Game 3 with a 68-61 win in Game 2.
Ryan MacKinnon finished the season in third place in the Canada West scoring race averaging 19.9 points per game. Michael Acheampong has also been strong with 13.7 points per game. Zac Andrus also averaged double digits in scoring throughout the season 11.9 a night. Victoria has had a collective effort on the boards with five players averaging four or more rebounds a night and lead the conference with 29 defensive rebounds a night. The Vikes are also dangerous as team from the three-point line leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage at .402.
Victoria opens the Canada West Final Four tournament against Fraser Valley Friday night. The two teams split their conference meetings with the Cascades winning 79-70 before the Vikes won 91-67 a night later. Victoria is 1-1 in conference play against the other two Final Four teams – losing to the Huskies.
“This week we’ve been doing the same things we do every week,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. “It’s not a matter of what we do this week but more about what we’ve done to date. Both teams are very familiar with each other, as we’re in the same division. We split the two games we played and we expect it to be a very competitive game. They are a talented team.”
No. 3 Seed – Fraser Valley Cascades
The 2011-12 season marks the first appearance by the University of Fraser Valley Cascades at the Canada West Men’s Basketball Final Four. Fraser Valley enters the weekend after winning their first-ever Canada West playoff series – a three game quarter-final win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
For the last three seasons, the Cascades have found themselves in the conference postseason but have failed to make it past the quarter-finals until 2011-12. Fraser Valley has been ranked in the CIS Top 10 since November and received a ranking as high as No. 4 at one point in 2011-12.
“We have been looking forward to being in this tournament since the end of last year,” said Cascades head coach Barnaby Craddock. “This is why our guys have been putting in all the hours of hard work, and we will be proud to step on the court in Saskatoon and compete for our conference championship.”
Joel Friesen, Samual Freeman, Kyle Grewal and Jasper Moedt have led the Cascades throughout the season each averaging double digits each night. Friesen leads the Casaced with 16 per night, followed by Freeman with 15, Grewal at 14.3 and Moedt at 11. Moedt and Grewal are also dangerous on the boards averaging 7.6 and 7.3 boards per game each respectively. As a team, Fraser Valley finished second in free throw percentage at .752.
The Cascades are 1-3 against the three other Final Four opponents – defeating Victoria in January.
No. 4 Seed – Alberta Golden Bears
The University of Alberta Golden Bears finished the Canada West season in second place in the prairie division with a 14-6 record. Alberta travels to the Canada West Championship after a sweep over the reigning Canada West champion UBC Thunderbirds in a quarter-final – 79-69 and 91-68.
Two Golden Bears – Daniel Ferguson and Jordan Baker – average double digits each night for Alberta. Ferguson leads the way with 19.9 per game, followed by Baker with 19.2. Baker is also the strongest on the boards for his time with 10.3 rebounds per night.
Alberta has been ranked in the CIS Top 10 all season with the highest ranking being No. 6. As a team the Golden Bears held their opponents to an average of just 69.7 points per game – the best in the conference.
Alberta will open the Canada West Final Four tournament against the Huskies Friday night. Against the other Final Four teams, the Golden Bears are 1-1 losing to Victoria 83-77 in January.