HALIFAX, NS – With the 2021-22 AUS men’s basketball season beginning this coming weekend, it is only right to share preseason predictions. Here are our 2021-22 regular-season predictions.
- Dalhousie University
The defending champions and winners of five of the past six AUS seasons, Dalhousie University is a no-brainer choice to put at the top of the list.
With their two top scorers returning, Keevan Veinot and Alex Carson, the Tigers have the experience and talent to finish at the top once again.
Expect Veinot, the 2019-20 MVP and Carson, who is 15th in 3-pointers made in AUS history, to expand on their previous season after playing in the CEBL this past summer.
With a stellar 19-1 record in the 2019-20 season, the team has a winning culture and a three-time coach of the year in Rick Plato.
All in all, this is the easiest seed to pencil in, as the rest of the AUS becomes quite tight.
Player to watch: Keevan Veinot
2. St. Francis Xavier University
After finishing second in the AUS in the 2019-20 season, St. Francis Xavier University will be looking to get to the top.
Losing their top scorer, Azaro Roker, the X-Men have lost their scoring presence inside the paint. However, Avan Nava, who averaged 17.4 points per game in the 2019-20 season, should be more than ready to become the top scorer. Leading the league in 3-point field goal percentage, Nava is an absolute marksman and has the efficiency to expand his scoring.
The X-Men will have to get scoring from others, such as Justin Andrew, as they will have a lot of scoring from their guards.
Player to watch: Avan Nava
3. Saint Mary’s University
Saint Mary’s University has something the top two teams in my predictions do not have, and that is a scoring duo of a guard and a forward. This duo is Johneil Johnson and Qyemah Gibson, who individually averaged over 15 points per game during the 2019-20 season.
SMU finished fourth in the AUS in 2019-20, but they can challenge for second place this season. It was hard not to place SMU as the second seed since they have been impressive during the preseason. Beating StFX 93-89 and more than holding their own against Dalhousie in a close 100-92 loss, SMU has proven they can compete with the best up to this point.
Player to watch: Johneil Johnson and Qyemah Gibson
4. University of New Brunswick
Despite dropping to fourth, the University of New Brunswick is still a team to be reckoned with.
With scorers such as Chris Spurrell and Ibrahima Doumbouya, UNB can challenge for second place.
Doumbouya’s physical presence will be critical as he builds off his excellent rebounding season placing third in total rebounds.
However, I have them falling short in my prediction as UNB has not been impressive during the preseason.
Coming off a 91-69 loss to UPEI and barely beating St. Thomas by only eight points, their preseason has been quite underwhelming. Although it is only preseason, it has to be factored into the season prediction.
UNB’s new coach, Joe Salerno, is a winner. Being the National Basketball League of Canada’s all-time winningest coach and a three-time coach of the year, Salerno will bring a level of experience and professionalism that could do wonders for the team.
Player to watch: Chris Spurrell
5. Memorial University of Newfoundland
Finishing 5th in the 2019-20 season, Memorial University of Newfoundland will stay just there.
Without having played preseason games and no updated roster on their website, Memorial is a tough one to predict, which is why I have them staying 5th.
6. Cape Breton University
AUS leading scorer, Osman Omar, will need another successful season for Cape Breton University to make noise.
Omar will need more help this season as he only had one teammate scoring in double digits. If Omar is provided with the proper support, his team can challenge for a higher seed. If not, Cape Breton will be heavily relying on Omar against teams with several excellent players.
Finishing with a record that was not too shabby of 8-12 in the 2019-20 season, do not be surprised if Cape Breton moves up in the standings.
Player to watch: Osman Omar
7. University of Prince Edward Island
After an awful 2019-20 season which saw the University of Prince Edward Island finish with a 3-17 record, they have not looked as bad at that record in preseason.
Beating UNB 91-69, UPEI has all the reasons to be optimistic about finishing with a better record this season.
Watch for Elijah Miller, a dynamic player who had the most assists in the league and finished ninth in scoring as UPEI look to be champions for the first time since 2003.
Player to watch: Elijah Miller
8. Acadia University
Acadia University is the only team without a top 10 scorer in the 2019-20 season, which is alarming. With their 7-13 record and badly losing in both preseason games, Acadia places last in this list.
While Acadia played two great teams in SMU and StFX, it will be interesting to see Acadia face teams in a similar tier. Acadia will need to scrap some wins from the teams placed lower on this list to fight for a playoff spot.
Without their best player, Marcus Upshaw, someone else will have to step up, or the team will have to score by community.
Player to watch: Rowan Power