Playoff Preview: Badgers likely to face McMaster in first-round matchup



It’s been an up-and-down season for the Badgers men’s basketball team this year, one that has seen a wealth of change as well; from the brand-new coaching staff to the team personnel, the Badgers have undergone a rather large makeover for the first time in five years.

Rookie head coach Willy Manigat, who came over from Carleton where he was an assistant coach and former player, has led his program to a record of 12-8 as of today, with two games remaining in the regular season. They recently beat the Laurier Golden Hawks and Waterloo Warriors in a back-to-back this past weekend to improve to 7-2 over their last nine games.

The Badgers have been riddled by injuries all season long; Ryan Cooper and Emmanuel Owotooah have been out for the year — each nursing a broken right foot — while Kascius Small-Martin has been out since the new year with a broken left hand. Given all the change the program has been through, plus all the major injuries the team has sustained, Manigat has done a very good job in leading the team to their fifth consecutive playoff appearance.

The Badgers are set to take on the No. 6 Ottawa Gee-Gees and the No. 1 Carleton Ravens this upcoming weekend to close out the regular season in a back-to-back that rarely sees teams escape with one win, let alone two. The Ravens have only lost one game all season: a one-point loss to Ottawa this past Friday. The Badgers will most likely fall to both teams, which would give them a respectable 12-10 record on the season.

In all likelihood, the Badgers seemed destined for the No. 9 seed in this year’s playoffs. A date with the McMaster Marauders in the first-round is the most likely scenario. McMaster, who enters this final weekend with the same 12-8 record as Brock, will also end their season with a Carleton-Ottawa back-to-back. Assuming both Brock and McMaster lose both games, they will each finish with matching records. McMaster, however, owns the tiebreaker over Brock, as they beat the Badgers in both regular season meetings, which will prove pivotal in terms of seeding.

The Marauders are likely to finish as the No. 8 seed, which would pit them against Brock in the 8-9 matchup of the first-round. Since McMaster holds the tiebreaker, the game would be played in Hamilton on February 19. Of course, if either team manages to upset Carleton or Ottawa, that could all change. But both teams are too far back to catch Queen’s (the likely No. 7 seed) and too far ahead to drop beyond Laurier or Windsor (the likely No. 10 and 11 seeds). It seems like we are destined for a playoff edition of the QEW rivalry.

In their first regular season matchup back in October, the Marauders outscored the Badgers by 11 in the fourth to escape with a 74-72 win. There second meeting saw McMaster blowout Brock by a score of 81-64. The Marauders are led by sophomore guard Jordan Henry, who’s currently tied for first in the league in scoring with 23.9 points a night. Henry dropped 26 and 22 against Brock and recently had a 46-point outburst in a 116-95 walloping over Ryerson. It will undoubtedly be a tough game for the Badgers, but a Tyler Brown-Jordan Henry matchup will certainly be worth the price of admission.

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