EDMONTON (ISN) – To kickoff five straight days of 2012-13 schedule and championship announcements, Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) releases the full list of dates and times for the newly expanded, 16-team men’s and women’s basketball conference.
While the Mount Royal Cougars (from ACAC) and UNBC Timberwolves (from BCCAA) join the conference and its 22-game schedule for the first time, there is no longer a post-season Wild Card berth. Instead, the top four teams from both eight-team divisions, the Prairie & Pacific, qualify for playoffs. Both new schools will join the Pacific Division, meaning Mount Royal and Calgary will be based in the same city, but in different divisions.
Also new this season is an expanded number of mid-week events with Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night games.
The new season tips off on Nov. 1st, with the Regina Cougars hosting their provincial rival, the Saskatchewan Huskies, in a clash of teams that were ranked in the CIS Top 10 all last season. The Cougars and Huskies last played in the fifth-place game at Nationals, where Regina prevailed 94-90.
All teams get underway in Week 1, with defending the conference champion UBC Thunderbirds at the Langley Events Centre to take on the Trinity Western Spartans, Nov. 2nd & 3rd. Nov. 2nd also sees UNBC enter the Canada West fray with the first of a two-game set at Thompson Rivers to face the WolfPack, while Mount Royal awaits its opening contests in Calgary against the Fraser Valley Cascades, Nov. 3rd & 4th. UNBC placed fifth at CCAA Nationals this past spring, while MRU lost out in the ACAC conference final.
Early in the New Year, on January 19th, UBC and Regina go head-to-head at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver in a rematch of the 2012 Canada West final.
The conference schedule opens with Saskatchewan at the CKHS in Regina. The host Cougars are coming off a 5-15 season of rebuilding, while the Huskies were 16-4 last year before a tough home loss in the Final Four semifinals ended a promising year for the 2010 CIS champions.
Like the women’s side, the UNBC Timberwolves play their first series at Thompson Rivers Nov. 2nd & 3rd, with the MRU Cougars hosting UFV Nov, 3rd & 4th. The Cougars made it all the way to the CCAA national gold medal game in 2011-12.
After emerging from the pack to win the conference and go on to a CIS silver medal, the Alberta Golden Bears and new head coach Barnaby Craddock begin their quest for another title on Nov. 2nd when they host the first of two games against the Brandon Bobcats, the team that Craddock coached to a national silver medal in 2007.
With just one game separating the top three Pacific teams last season Victoria, UBC and Fraser Valley will no doubt look for a solid start and good head-to-head matchups in anticipation of another tight battle. The Vikes and T-Birds play a pivotal two-game series to conclude the Canada West season on Feb. 15-16.
The final conference season games, which will ultimately determine who’s in, who’s out at playoff time, go the week of February 13-16. With half of the 16 teams moving on, there will undoubtedly be last-minute jockeying for position and an eye on the tie-breaking formula during the final scramble.
Best-of-three quarter-finals take place Feb. 22-24, with the highest-seeded QF series winners hosting Final Four events the weekend of March 1-2. The women’s Regionals are March 8-10, the same time as the men’s CIS Final 8 national championship, hosted by Carleton University in Ottawa. The women’s Final 8 tournament is March 15-17 at the University of Regina, where the Cougars are guaranteed a spot as Host.
Complete, detailed broadcast schedules will become available as the season draws closer.