PREVIEW: Vikes look to rebound against tough Bisons squad
The UVic Vikes men's basketball team will try to put a pair of excruciatingly close losses behind them when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Manitoba Bisons on Jan. 13 and 14.
The games are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoon, a rarity for a Vikes squad that normally plays on Friday and Saturday nights. The matches will get underway at noon and 1 p.m. PST respectively.
Currently sitting ninth in the conference, the 6-6 Vikes will be trying to pull off the upset when they take on a Bisons squad that holds a record of 10-4, good enough for them to be in a three-way tie for second place.
While the Vikes record may have them in ninth place, if the post-season were to start today, they would be shuffled all the way down the 12th and final playoff spot.
Due to the unbalanced schedules played by teams in the Canada West conference, the playoffs will be determined with the top 12 teams by record qualifying, but then those teams will be seeded by their RPI. While the Vikes record may be ninth, their current RPI would have them seeded 12th.
The Vikes and Bisons split the last games that they played back in the 2015-16 season. Victoria took the first game 85-77 before falling 65-59 on the second night of action that took place inside the CARSA Performance Gym. Jordan Charles, Taylor Montgomery-Stinson and Justin Kinnear are the only current Vikes that saw action in those games.
Last Time Out
While the Vikes started 2018 with a pair of losses to the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, they certainly didn't drop those games due to a lack of effort. They led the 'Pack by as many as 16 points Friday night before eventually falling 86-82 in overtime. The story was similar on Saturday night, as the Vikes held a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter but couldn't hold off a late TRU push en route to the 81-77 defeat.
The Bisons meanwhile, recorded their fourth and fifth wins in a row by sweeping the Lethbridge Pronghorns at home last weekend. The team put up 185 points over the two games and in the process handed the Pronghorns just their third and fourth losses of the season.
By the Numbers
22.8: The number of points per game Justus Alleyn is putting up for the Bisons, the third-most in the conference.
73.7: The games will be a clash of two top defences. The Bisons are allowing the second-fewest points per game in Canada West while the Vikes sit fifth in that regard, allowing 77.1.
6: Balanced scoring continues to be the story for the Vikes. They have six players scoring more than nine points per game.
Craig Beaucamp, Vikes head coach
"For us defence is key. If we are going to have a chance to be successful night in and night out we need to play strong defensively and have good defensive rebounding. We've been pretty good at that but the biggest thing for us is putting 40 minutes together. Friday night we only gave up 49 after three quarters and Saturday night just 53 after three but we had two poor defensive fourth quarters. That will be a focal point for us this weekend because they are a pretty prolific scoring team and shoot the ball quite well."
"Justus is a guy that is probably going to get his chances, we just have to make sure they are contested shots. He is going to find a way to get points, we just have to limit the rest of their group as much as we can. It's the second and third scorers that hurt you more than the top guy."
"It is a really tight conference race. We are trying to stay positive after the weekend, you make your own breaks and obviously we didn't do enough in the fourth quarter of both games. We played pretty solid basketball for at least six of the eight quarters and could have come away with two wins or earned a split, but instead we came away with no wins. We are just trying to stay positive, get better in practice and we had one of our best practices of the season last night so we are feeling good about that."
Manitoba Bisons (10-4)
Canada West Standings: 4th
RPI: .5735, 6th
Last Week: 2-0
Streak: W 5
Last Canada West Title: N/A
Last U SPORTS Title: 1975-76