A look at teams competing in U Sports women’s basketball Final 8 in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Pandas basketball hosts 2024 U Sports Championship'
Pandas basketball hosts 2024 U Sports Championship
WATCH ABOVE: The best women's basketball in the country is coming to the University of Alberta campus for three days as the Pandas basketball team hosts the 2024 U SPORTS Championship. Head coach Scott Edwards and Panda forward Shae McCusker joined us on Global News Morning Edmonton with all the details – Mar 4, 2024

A capsule look at the eight teams competing in the U Sports women’s basketball Final 8 in Edmonton.

Teams are listed by seeding heading into the tournament, along with their respective regular-season records. The tournament runs from Thursday to Sunday.

1. Saskatchewan (19-1)

The Huskies are back in the tournament after missing the big dance in 2022. The Canada West champions are also the top seed for the first time since 2020, when they won their second national title in program history. Saskatchewan blitzed through Canada West in the regular season, only losing to Regina 69-62 on Feb. 2. However, the Huskies showed a new level in the playoffs, trouncing Fraser Valley 84-50 in the semifinals before defeating Alberta 73-42 in the final.

Click to play video: 'U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team chasing third national championship'
U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team chasing third national championship

2. Carleton (21-1)

The Ravens are back as the OUA champions and defending U Sports champions. But unlike last season, they enter the Final 8 as the second seed and not the first. Carleton closed its regular season with 12 straight wins, and another three in the OUA playoffs. Led by OUA coach of the year Dani Sinclair and first-team OUA all-star Kali Pocrnic, and boasting the third-highest scoring offence in the country (80.6 points per game), the Ravens look poised for a run at their third national title.

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Carleton Ravens Kyana-Jade Poulin handles the basketball during recent U Sports action against Queen’s University. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Carleton Ravens-Marc Lafleur **MANDATORY CREDIT**

3. Saint Mary’s (17-3)

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The Huskies repeated as AUS champions but still have their aim fixed on winning the program’s first-ever national title. Saint Mary’s has only made it to one national final, a 71-45 loss to the Windsor Lancers in 2014. Guided by AUS coach of the year Scott Munro and AUS first-team all-star Alaina McMillan, the Huskies face a stiff opening test against OUA finalists Queen’s Gaels.

4. Laval (16-0)

The Rouge et Or have yet to taste defeat this season and cruised to a 56-33 win over Bishop’s to take the RSEQ crown on Saturday. Boasting the third-best defence in the country (52.9 points per game allowed) and led by leading scorer Lea-Sophie Verret (14.8 points per game), Laval will have to hit the ground running in hopes that it could make the fourth time a charm. The Rouge et Or have never won a national title but have been to three tournament finals (2002, 2017, 2019).

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5. Alberta (14-6)

The host Pandas will have redemption on their mind entering their matchup Thursday against Laval. Alberta was dismantled by Saskatchewan in the Canada West final, just one year after winning the conference crown and entering the Final 8 as the No. 2 seed. Finishing sixth in the regular-season standings, the Pandas took the road less travelled in defeating Mount Royal, Calgary and Victoria before seeing the Huskies in the conference final.

6. Queen’s (18-4)

The Gaels have been on the brink of OUA and national titles the last two years. Queen’s fell to Carleton in last season’s OUA and U Sports finals, before losing to the Ravens again in this year’s OUA title game. The Gaels also took bronze at the 2022 Final 8. Paced by senior forward and OUA defensive player of the year Julia Chadwick (18.7 points, 11.9 rebounds per game), the question will be if Queen’s can finally break through.

7. Fraser Valley (17-3)

The Cascades closed the Canada West regular season on a seven-game winning streak to finish third in the standings. After ousting Regina in the quarterfinals, however, they were blown out by Saskatchewan in the semifinals before handily defeating Victoria for bronze. With the second-leading scorer in Canada West, Maddy Gobeil (17.7 points per game), as the head of the snake, the Cascades will have their hands full going up against the Ravens.

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8. Calgary (16-4)

The Dinos were awarded the at-large berth by the tournament seeding committee after finishing No. 5 in the final U Sports top 10 of the season before being upset by Alberta in the Canada West quarterfinals. While it helps to have a foot in the door by making it into the Final 8, Calgary will have to get past the Huskies in order to avoid the same fate as last season — battling in the consolation bracket.

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