Both UAlberta basketball teams begin their championship quest this weekend, as the Golden Bears and Pandas host the Lethbridge Pronghorns this weekend in their quarter-final series’ at Saville Community Sports Centre.
The two best-of-three quarter-final series will begin on Thursday with Game 1 (Pandas at 6:00 p.m. / Bears at 8:00 p.m.), with Game 2 set for Friday, and if necessary, Game 3 on Saturday night. All three games of both series will also be streamed live on Canada West TV.
This weekend will mark the third straight season the Golden Bears and Pronghorns men’s team will clash in the conference playoffs. Alberta swept Lethbridge 2-0 in the 2018 semifinals, and earned a 2-1 series win in the 2017 quarter-final en route to their 12th conference championship.
Both of the previous two playoff meetings also came at Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.
The two rivals also met in November in regular season play, with the Bears earning wins of 85-72 and 87-74.
If their previous meetings in the playoffs and regular season are any indication, this weekend’s men series should be highly entertaining and explosive.
Lethbridge led Canada West scoring 94.8 points per game, including shooting a league-best 47.5%. The Bears finished seventh at 84.8 points per game, finishing in the top half of the conference in field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
The big gap between the clubs, however, is on defence. The Bears have the second best defensive unit, allowing just 72.5 points per game, while Lethbridge ranks 7th at 80.3
U SPORTS Appearances
The Golden Bears are looking for a third-straight U SPORTS Championship appearance, after finishing 7th in 2017 and 2018.
The Pandas are aiming to get back for the first time since 2016, which was the tail-end of three-straight appearances.
The top two Canada West finishers automatically qualify for nationals, with one spot open for the At-Large Berth.