The Canada West Universities Athletic Association has approved a change to its men’s and women’s basketball format, following the conference’s annual general meeting held last week in Brandon, Manitoba.
Beginning with the 2016-17 season, the 17 Canada West basketball schools will play in a single conference, featuring a 20-game regular season schedule.
Each team will play four geographical, or historical opponents every year, with games against six of the remaining 12 opponents every other year.
Over a four-year rotation in the schedule, each team will play every team in the conference at least twice, and will visit every gym in Canada West at least once.
Also approved was the accompanying playoff format, which will see the top 12 teams playing a bracketed postseason structure over a three-week period. The top four teams will receive a bye in the first week of the playoffs, which will feature four best-of-three series. The following week will consist of four best-of-three quarterfinals, leading to the Final Four hosted by the highest remaining seed.
“The majority of members wanted a different format, so we spent six months going through a lot of options for schedules,” Canada West President Ian Reade said. “We were able to go through a collective problem solving process to get to a format, and come together on this one.
“This allows us to guarantee that traditional and geographic opponents will have the opportunity to play each other annually, while eliminating the perception of having two tiers within the conference.”
The 2015-16 season will be played under the existing two-division format, with the 11-team Pioneer Division (Alberta, Brandon, UBC, Calgary, Lethbridge, Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan, Trinity Western, Victoria, Winnipeg), and six-team Explorer Division (University of the Fraser Valley, UBC Okanagan, MacEwan, Mount Royal, UNBC, Thompson Rivers), playing a 20-game regular season with no interlock between divisions.
Beginning in 2016-17, the UFV Cascades will play fellow B.C. teams Trinity Western, Thompson Rivers, UBC Okanagan and UNBC on an annual basis, while facing the rest of the Canada West squads in the regular season every second year.
“As a department, we think this is a much better basketball solution for our players and fans,” said Steve Tuckwood, UFV’s Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation. “This will allow us to have a much better Canada West experience by playing against a broader cross-section of teams, making for a more competitive atmosphere in basketball.”