For the fifth consecutive year, the Carleton Ravens enter the men's basketball season as the top-ranked team in the country, at least according to a majority of coaches coast to coast. Thirty-one of the 41 coaches voted Carleton as the best team in Canada.
And, for the fifth consecutive year, head coach Dave Smart is downplaying the ranking his peers bestowed upon him and his team, winners of six of the last eight national championships.
"We aren't a No. 1-ranked team at this point. There are a number of teams who are as good or better than we are," Smart wrote in an email. "I am happy with how hard the kids are playing, but we are a work in progress."
The UBC Thunderbirds received the other 10 first-place votes.
"I think UBC looks very good and has got to be considered the most well-rounded team in the country," Smart wrote.
Mark Wacyk of CISHoops.ca also ranks the Ravens ahead of every team in the country. He also has UBC in the two spot conceding "In retrospect, the Birds deserved this spot last week, proving it after two double-digit wins in Langley against Trinity Western, last week's No. 4."
"Rankings don't mean much at this point and we likely won't be No. 1 for long, but I hope we are able to keep improving and be in Halifax in March," Smart wrote.
Smart was quick to note Guelph gave UBC a run Oct. 10 in Guelph, where the T-Birds won by three. And on Oct. 23, Saskatchewan beat UBC by one.
"There are probably 25 teams in the CIS capable of beating anyone in the country," Smart wrote.
But Wayne Kondro of the Ottawa Citizen says Ravens the team to beat ... again.
Ryerson Rams head coach Roy Rana (sort of) agreed in Kondro's piece.
Wacyck credits Carleton with having "played a strong pre-season schedule." The Ravens are 8-0 versus Canadian competition, including a win against Windsor.
A week ago, Wacyk ranked Carleton No. 1 and wrote: "Try as one might to find reasons not to rank the Ravens at the top given the loss of an All-Canadian and the comparative inexperience of the roster, this is the right spot for them at this time of the year."
Dave Smart would — as always — tend to disagree.