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What U Need to Know: USports Men's Basketball (Feb 13-20)

Another fantastic week of USports Men’s Basketball is in the books with some big changes on the rankings, including a new #1 in the nation! Teams had seasons end and a couple you could argue have had playoffs already start with seeding and playoff spots on the line. That being said, let’s take a look at this week's recap.

#1 in the Nation: UVictoria Vikes

The UVic Vikes have finally done it. After weeks of being 2nd in the nation, they finally found themselves on top at #1. The Vikes now hold a first-place ranking in the country, while also having the top scorer in the country in Diego Maffia, whose 26.5 points per game lead the country and has for some time now. The Vikes took care of business last weekend defeating MacEwan 95-47 on Friday and 87-58 on Saturday. The Vikes also defeated Thomspon Rivers University at home on Wednesday, February 14th in a rescheduled game 97-79. The Vikes will face off against Thompson Rivers University again on Thursday, February 15th at 8:30 PM EST once again in Victoria.

#2 in the Nation: University of Ottawa Gee-Gees

The UOttawa Gee-Gees find themselves out of the #1 spot for the first time in a long time. The Gee-Gees hosted two Toronto teams this past weekend starting with the TMU Bold last Friday. The Gee-Gees won that matchup 69-52. The Gee-Gees then hosted the UofT Varsity Blues the following day. The Gee-Gees would not fare as well against UofT, as UOttawa shot an abysmal 30.6% from the field and 20% from 3-point range on their way to losing 76-70 to the Varsity Blues. The road does not get any easier for the Gee-Gees as they have a gauntlet this weekend that may have them rise back into 1st or fall even further than 2nd depending on what happens. The Gee-Gees will travel to Kingston to take on the #3 ranked Gaels who have been itching to move up the rankings and will likely get their chance to in this match to be played Friday, February 16th at 8 PM EST. The Gee-Gees will then travel to Oshawa to tale on the #7 ranked and recently surging Ontario Tech Ridgebacks on Saturday, February 17th at 6 PM EST. Both games will be huge for both teams involved and will be a huge factor in next week's final Top 10 rankings before the playoffs.

#3 in the Nation: Queen’s Gaels

The Queen’s Gaels maintain their 3rd in the nation rankings as they have for some time now following a 98-77 road win last Friday over the Lakehead Thunderwolves. The Gaels were led by Cole Syllas who dropped a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The Gaels have a tough test this weekend where they’ll look to improve their spot in the rankings as #2 UOttawa comes to #3 Queens on Friday, February 16th for tip-off at 8 PM EST. This will be a must-watch match between the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the country, with 2nd best likely on the line. The Gaels will then host the Carleton Ravens on Saturday, February 17th at 8 PM EST. Despite their struggles this year compared to other years, the Ravens always seem to give the Gaels trouble. The Ravens defeated Queens 93-89 earlier this year and ended the Gaels OUA title hopes last season by beating Queen’s in the semi-finals. Both games will be available to be streamed on OUA.TV.

#4 in the Nation: University of British Columbia Thunderbirds

The UBC Thunderbirds find themselves once again at 4th in the country following this past weekend's double-header against the UCalgary Dinos. The Thunderbirds hosted the Dinos first last Friday, which saw the Dinos emerge victorious 85-82. The rematch happened the very next night, this time with the Thunderbirds emerging victorious behind 28 points from 5th-year guard James Woods in what may be his last regular season game at War Memorial Gym. The Thunderbirds have no remaining regular season games and await the Canada West playoff schedule release to see when they’ll lace them up next.

#5 in the Nation: University of Calgary Dinos

The UCalgary Dinos remain at #5 in the country following a double-header on the road with the UBC Thunderbirds. The Dinos were able to take the first game of the doubleheader last Friday 85-82 behind 27 points from Noah Wharton including 7 made 3-pointers. The Dinos did not fare so well in the rematch the following night, as the Thunderbirds won 107-75, a far more convincing victory that allowed the Thunderbirds to stay at #4 in the country. The Dinos have finished their regular season and await the Canada West playoff schedule release to see when they’ll play next.

#6 in the Nation: Laurier Golden Hawks

Laurier finds themselves in the 6th spot in the country again for this week's rankings. Last Friday, the Golden Hawks took on UWindsor on Laurier’s home floor. The Golden Hawks were able to walk out with an 83-70 win over the Lancers behind Ethan Passley’s season-high 28 points. The Lancers then hosted a York Lions team that seemed to be finding their stride at the right time winning their last 4 games before their Saturday match against Laurier. The Lions would continue that hot streak defeating Laurier 81-80 and extending York’s winning streak to 5 games before their 94-90 loss to TMU this past Wednesday. The Golden Hawks will finish out the season at home, hosting the UofT Varsity Blues on Friday, February 16th at 8 PM EST followed by a Saturday, February 17th game at 8 PM EST against a previously ranked Western Mustangs team looking to climb back into the Top 10 before playoffs.

#7 in the Nation: Ontario Tech Ridgebacks

The Ridgebacks continue to rise, going from their first-ever ranking of 9th in the country last week and jumping 2 more spots to land at 7th in this week's rankings. The Ridgebacks traveled to Lakehead last Saturday to take on the Thunderwolves. The Ridgebacks were able to walk out with an 85-79 win behind Keon Baker’s 26 points and 9 rebounds. The Ridgebacks will have a true test this weekend and an opportunity to potentially boost their Top 10 ranking even more. On Friday, February 16th, the Ridgebacks will host the Carleton Ravens at 8 PM EST. On Saturday, February 17th at 8 PM EST, the Ridgebacks will then host #2 UOttawa in what is sure to be a must-watch game between two top teams in the OUA and country. These games will be available to stream on OUA.TV.

#8 in the Nation: University of Manitoba Bisons

The Bisons were able to hold their 8th ranking in the nation following a double-header versus UBC Okanagan this past weekend. Last Friday, the Bisons defeated the Heat 83-78. The following night, the Bisons were also able to defeat the Heat, this time by a score of 81-72. The Manitoba Bisons have finished their regular season and await the release of the Canada West Playoff schedule and seeds to find out their next matchup.

#9 in the Nation: University of Winnipeg Wesmen

The University of Winnipeg Wesmen find themselves in rankings at the right time, securing 9th in the country while carrying a 6-game winning streak into the Canada West Playoffs. The Winnipeg Wesmen went into last weekend with a 4 game-winning streak and their final 2 regular season games left to play on the road against the Regina Cougars. Last Friday, the Wesmen were able to defeat the Cougars 80-62 to secure their 5th straight win. Last Saturday, the Wesmen were able to get their 6th straight win going into the playoffs, defeating Regina 85-76. The Wesmen have finished their regular season and now await the release of the Canada West Playoff schedule to see their first playoff opponent.

#10 in the Nation: STFX X-Men

The X-Men find themselves dropping 3 spots to 10th in the nation following a weekend in which they struggled against the then 8-9 UNB Reds. Last Friday, STFX managed to hang on to a 67-66 victory after UNB’s Javordo Mitchell had a chance at game-tying free throws with minimal time left on the clock. Mitchell would go 1/2 from the line and STFX would hold on to win. The following day, the Reds came out for revenge and STFX was not able to handle them, as the Reds would go on to defeat the X-Men 76-64. STFX will look to bounce back this weekend, as they take on Dalhousie on Friday, February 16th at 7 PM EST. The X-Men will also play Saturday, February 17th at 7 PM EST against Cape Breton in a makeup game that was previously postponed on February 3rd.

Missing from the last top 10: University of Western Ontario Mustangs

Western finds themselves on the outside this week following 2 wins this past week, albeit against not-great opponents. The Mustangs defeated the Guelph Gryphons last Saturday 93-79 in Guelph. They then took on the Waterloo Warriors this past Wednesday and were able to defeat them by a score of 82-75. I believe this is more of a circumstance of other teams playing better competition and winning (ex. Winnipeg securing their playoff berth) as opposed to the Mustangs doing any wrong over the past week. The Mustangs will try to make their case to re-enter the Top 10 this weekend on Saturday, February 17th when they travel to Waterloo to play the #6 Laurier Golden Hawks with tip-off scheduled for 8 PM EST, in a game I’m sure could have Top 10 ranking implications for whoever wins.

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