As you might know, one of my jobs is to provide statistics and player relations with the National Basketball League of Canada, an eight-team hoops circuit that’s right in the middle of playoff season. Eight teams are battling for the championship, including the defending champion Windsor (Ont.) Express, the two-time champion London (Ont.) Lightning, and the two-time playoff finalist (Charlottetown, PEI) Island Storm.
Last week, I appeared on the NBL Canada’s “NBL Canada Live!” podcast with Audley Stephenson and Meghan McPeek, and we had a nice chat about how the season progressed and where the playoffs will head.
Above is a link to the broadcast.
And during the broadcast, I was asked about my playoff predictions. Yep, I get to be Joe Lunardi and Mel Kiper Jr. all in one. And this is from a man who doesn’t participate in NCAA bracket tournaments any more because he thinks it’s discriminatory to force the MEAC and SWAC champions to play in “play-in games” as if their Division I championships meant nothing in comparison to other Division I championship teams.
Now I could go with my heart and look for teams with an “Albany Connection” – which means I would pull for the Windsor Express (DeAndre Thomas was the MVP of the IBL champion Albany Legends), or the Brampton A’s (head coach David Magley played on the 1983-84 CBA champion Albany Patroons) or the London Lightning (Marvin Phillips played on the CBA and USBL versions of the Patroons).
But I have to be pragmatic. And I went through the teams, the strengths of their rosters, the strengths of schedules…
And, as listed in the podcast, here’s where I went.
The first round series are best-of-five affairs. In the Maritimes, where four teams are based in the NBL’s Atlantic Division, I picked the Halifax Rainmen to make short work of the Moncton Miracles in four games, while the Island Storm would take care of the Saint John Mill Rats in five. Halifax would then take a best-of-seven matchup over the Storm, which would send the Rainmen to the finals for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
In the Ontario-based Central Division, I had the Windsor Express defeating the Mississauga Power in short time, while the London and Brampton teams would battle to the end until the Brampton A’s emerged victorious. Then Brampton and Windsor would play in a best-of-seven, which I had Brampton fated to win.
So now it’s Brampton and Halifax. And after I predict a couple of close games and a couple of blowouts, I expected the series to go to Game 7… with Halifax winning by five points and taking the championship.
Bold predictions, eh?
Yeah, I know it’s a Canadian basketball league, eh?
Now last year when I made predictions like these, I immediately received phone calls from some of the owners and coaches who were not thrilled at my predictions. One of them even posted my words on the locker room wall, and it actually motivated his team to knock out my predicted league champion in the first round.
I can say, though, right now with one week into the playoff season, my predictions have been unchallenged.
If I’m wrong in my predictions… so be it. Nothing wrong with being wrong in a prediction.
But if I’m right… then you heard it all first right here in this blog, eh?