EDMONTON – The Regina Cougars and Alberta Golden Bears open the 2017-18 Canada West basketball regular season this weekend the conference’s teams to beat, according to the annual pre-season coaches polls.


Friday marks the start of the CW season, as a full slate of games begin the road to the revamped CW Championship, and ultimately the U SPORTS Final 8 tournaments.






Beginning on the women’s side, Regina is the heaviest of favourites heading into the new season, as the Cougars earned every first-place vote available to them. Coming off the conference’s best record a year ago (17-3), the Queen City crew bring a veteran side to the table. With a nationals berth already in the bag by virtue of hosting the U SPORTS tournament March 8-11, Regina will have the luxury of focussing on the process this season.


While the CW standings won’t dictate whether Regina is competing for a national title come March, the Cougars certainly won’t be looking to coast through their CW schedule. Regina is poised to take aim at the program’s second-ever Canada West banner, after previously capturing CW gold in 2000-01, following their transition from the Great Plains Athletic Conference.


For Alberta, the Golden Bears are searching for back-to-back conference titles – something the Bears have done twice in program history (1972-73 & 1973-74, 1998-99 & 1999-00). Looking to push the Bears, who earned 14 of a possible 16 first-place votes, will be a pair of familiar faces atop the conference, as both the UBC Thunderbirds (242 pts. and three first-place votes), along with the Calgary Dinos (223 pts.) are expected to have strong seasons.


UBC enters the new season looking to erase the sting of last spring’s playoff setback. Despite a 19-1 regular season record, UBC finished fourth in the conference’s new ratings percentage index (RPI), which was used for playoff seeding. Slotting in fourth resulted in a draw against the Manitoba Bisons in the conference quarters, where Manitoba earned a two-game sweep, sending the T-Birds’ near perfect regular season up in smoke.


UBC’s playoff setback was due in no small part to CW MVP Conor Morgan playing hurt. He returns for his fifth and final season beginning this weekend as the pre-season favourite to earn the conference’s top individual honour.




RPI was used a season ago for playoff seeding purposes in both CW men’s and women’s basketball. Again this season, RPI will be used to seed playoff teams, while win/loss records will be used to determine playoff qualification – just as it was a season ago. The CW RPI was implemented for the 2016-17 campaign to account for varying strengths of schedules, resulting from the conference’s unbalanced schedule.


While RPI remains, the formula used in 2016-17 doesn’t. Alterations have been made to the RPI formula, following review by Canada West’s sport committee. The new formula, listed below, has been amended to both increase the value of a team’s win/loss record, while reducing the value assigned for away wins and increasing the value for home wins.


RPI formula 


The formula used in 2016-17 was:

RPI = 25% team winning percentage (WP) x 1.2 away win + 0.8 home win, 50% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP).


The formula that will be used in 2017-18, with changes in bold, is:

RPI = 35% team winning percentage (WP) x 1.1 away win + 0.9 home win, 40% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP).




In addition to the altered RPI formula, a new playoff format is also coming to CW basketball this season, as the conference eliminated the CW Final Four tournament in favour of a one-game championship hosted by the highest remaining seed.


The number of playoff teams (12) has not changed from last season. The first round of conference playoffs will see the top four seeds earn byes, while the remaining eight teams will play single-elimination games (12 @ 5, 11 @ 6, 10 @ 7, and 9 @ 8) between February 8 and 11.


The conference quarter-finals (best-of-threes) are set for February 15-18, the CW semis (best-of-three) February 22-25, and finally the CW Finals (and bronze medal games if necessary to determine national tournament berths) March 2 or 3.


The U SPORTS Final 8 tournaments are slated for March 8-11 this season, with the University of Regina set to host the women’s event, and the Halifax Metro Centre set to welcome the men’s event. Canada West is guaranteed three women’s berths, with the host Regina Cougars welcoming two additional CW teams, while two men’s teams are guaranteed a trip to the Maritimes for a shot at national glory.

2017 CW men’s basketball pre-season coaches poll

Place / Team / Points (First-place votes)

  1. Alberta / 254 (14)
  2. UBC / 242 (3)
  3. Calgary / 223
  4. Lethbridge / 208
  5. Winnipeg / 170
  6. Regina / 169
  7. Victoria / 162
  8. Manitoba / 152
  9. Brandon / 138
  10. Thompson Rivers / 133
  11. Saskatchewan / 115
  12. Fraser Valley / 95
  13. Mount Royal / 81
  14. UNBC / 67
  15. MacEwan / 47
  16. UBC Okanagan / 29
  17. Trinity Western / 27


NOTES: First-place vote worth 16 pts., second-place worth 15 pts. etc.


2017 CW women’s basketball pre-season coaches poll

Place / Team / Points (First-place votes)

  1. Regina / 256 (16)
  2. Saskatchewan / 241 (1)
  3. Alberta / 223
  4. UBC / 193
  5. Calgary / 184
  6. Winnipeg / 174
  7. Trinity Western / 172
  8. Brandon / 150
  9. Victoria / 144
  10. UNBC / 128
  11. Fraser Valley / 116
  12. Lethbridge / 91
  13. Thompson Rivers / 62
  14. MacEwan / 58
  15. Manitoba / 44
  16. Mount Royal / 40
  17. UBC Okanagan / 35


NOTES: First-place vote worth 16 pts., second-place worth 15 pts. etc.