The news came in on Sunday: Queen’s Men’s Basketball snagged the last spot in the U SPORTS Final 8 Basketball Championships in Nova Scotia.
Each year, the top two teams in each provincial division earn a ticket to nationals. That makes up six of the eight teams, then the seventh spot is given to the host school, and the eighth is left as a wild card or at-large berth spot.
The team awarded the at-large berth spot must qualify by the 10 criteria outlined by U SPORTS. Teams eligible for the at-large berth spot have statistics such as their record, top 10 rankings, and playoff performance compared by U SPORTS officials who determine who deserves the spot.
For Queen’s, the wild card spot means everything—it’s a second chance.
The Gaels, however, must prove they’re worthy of this redemption. They go into the tournament this weekend as the fifth seed and will have their first match against fourth-seeded St. Francis Xavier University.
Queen’s is joined in Nova Scotia by two other OUA teams: third-seeded Carleton and second-seeded uOttawa. The Gaels split their two matchups with each this season. Although they must expect tough competition, they also need to remember winning gold isn’t impossible.
Last year’s champions—the Carleton Ravens—found themselves in an eerily similar situation after being awarded the at-large berth spot in the U SPORTS Final 8 following their loss to the Gaels in the OUA semifinals. Playing as the wild card team, the Ravens shook up the seeding to win the entire tournament, going from OUA semifinals losers to U SPORTS champions.
Right now, Queen’s is lined up to do the exact same thing the Ravens did last year.
Many of the players injured in the regular season are ready to play again, and their head coach, Stephen Barrie, earned OUA Coach of the Year for a reason. Even if this year’s playoff circumstance seems only coincidently—and not prophetically—related to what happened last year for the Ravens, Queen’s deserves this second chance.
Basketball, Carleton, Cole Syllas, Nova Scotia, OUA, U Sports
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