HAMILTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the release of the 2015 basketball postseason schedule, presented by Investors Group.
The road to the Wilson Cup Final Four, presented by Recharge with Milk, begins on Wednesday, Feb. 25 with four first-round matchups.
The top three teams from each OUA division have all qualified for the postseason. All 12 qualifying teams, regardless of division position, were ranked based on RPI (Rating Percentage Index) to determine the playoff bracket. The top four teams based on these rankings have been awarded byes through the first round of the playoffs.
(5) Windsor Lancers (15-5) vs. (12) Toronto Varsity Blues (6-13)
The Toronto Varsity Blues needed until the final day of the OUA regular season to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Tied with the Queen's Gaels for the third and final playoff berth in the OUA East Division, the Blues defeated the Gaels in a "win and you're in" showdown Saturday night 87-79.
Toronto now faces the Windsor Lancers in the first round of the 2015 playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 25th at 7:00pm.
In the previous regular season meeting between the two teams, Windsor defeated Toronto on the road 89-75 on Nov. 14.
If the Varsity Blues are to have any chance of advancing beyond the first round, they will have to find a way to shut down fourth-year guard Rotimi Osuntola, who led all players with 26 points and 15 rebounds in the game. Osuntola finished first in OUA this season averaging 11.5 rebounds per game.
Toronto is led by third-year forward Devin Johnson, who led the Blues averaging 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Earlier this season, Johnson had 14 points and seven rebounds against the Lancers.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face the Central Division champion (4) McMaster Marauders (16-3).
McMaster has a well balanced attack on offence which makes it difficult for defences to shut down just one player. Aaron Redpath leads the team averaging 12.8 points per game, followed closely by Taylor Black (12.5) and Joe Rocca (12.3). Black finished the season fifth in OUA in rebounds per game, behind Osuntola and Johnson, averaging 9.4 per game.
The Marauders had success earlier this season against both Windsor and Toronto. On Nov. 29, McMaster went on the road and knocked off the Lancers 84-72. A couple months later, on Jan. 31, they travelled to Toronto and defeated the Blues 85-63.
McMaster will host the winner of Wednesday's first-round matchup at home in the quarter-finals on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 3 p.m.
(6) Western Mustangs (12-7) vs. (11) Laurier Golden Hawks (7-13)
The Golden Hawks will be looking for revenge against their West Division rivals when the two teams face each other on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7:00pm in the opening round of the playoffs.
Western took both regular season meetings from Laurier and the Golden Hawks will need to get the Mustang off their back if they hope to advance to the quarter-finals on Saturday.
In their first meeting of the season, on Jan. 14, the Mustangs got a game-high 34 points from forward Greg Morrow and used a strong second half to sneak past the Golden Hawks 75-69. Morrow finished the regular season second in OUA in points per game with 22.2.
The two teams met again last week and once again it was Morrow who led Western with 18 points and 4 assists. The Mustangs outscored the Golden Hawks 22-4 in the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 76-48 victory at home.
Not only will the Golden Hawks need to find a solution for Morrow, but they will need a huge game from leading scorer Will Coulthard. Coulthard, who is averaging 17 points per game this season, played a season-low 10 minutes and was held off the score sheet in last week's loss.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face the East Division champion (4) Ryerson Rams (17-2).
Ryerson had success against both teams earlier this season. On Nov. 7, the Rams travelled to Waterloo and defeated the Golden Hawks 87-54. The following week Western came to town and fell to the hometown Rams 81-47.
The Rams have one of the better 1-2 punches in the league in Jahmal Jones and Aaron Best. Jones leads Ryerson averaging 17.2 points per game, while Best is second on the team at 14.6 points per game. Not only will Western or Laurier need to find way to slow down this high flying pair, but they will also need an answer for Jordon Gauthier, who scored a team high 19 points in the Rams earlier win over the Mustangs.
Ryerson will host the winner of Wednesday's first-round matchup at home in the quarter-finals on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.
(7) Lakehead Thunderwolves (11-8) vs. (10) Guelph Gryphons (8-11)
There are no teams in the OUA playoffs more recently acclimated with each other than Central Division rivals Lakehead and Guelph.
The Thunderwolves and Gryphons just finished their regular season with a weekend doubleheader in Guelph. The Gryphons took the first game on Friday 69-66 before falling to the Thunderwolves 89-74 on Saturday in the regular season finale.
However, their next matchup will take place in the not so friendly confines of the Thunderdome in Thunder Bay on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.
Lakehead is another team that relies on a well-balanced attack. Guard Dwayne Harvey leads the team averaging 12.4 points per game, followed closely by forward Anthony McIntosh and Bacarius Dinkins. However, if you sleep on third-year guard Alex Robichaud and you'll pay dearly as the Gryphons found out on Saturday. Robichaud scored a season-high 21 points and six rebounds in the victory.
For Guelph, the offence flows through guard Daniel Dooley and forward Trevor Thompson. Dooley leads with Gryphons averaging 12.6 points per game. A key to success for the Gryphons this season has been their execution at the free throw line. Despite averaging just over 20 attempts per game, Guelph leads the conference in free throw percentage (78.2). Dooley leads OUA in free throw percentage (91.5) and is followed closely by teammate Tyler Boers (90.5). If the Gryphons start getting to the line, it could be disastrous for the Thunderwolves.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face the defending CIS champion (2) Carleton Ravens (17-2).
If the regular season is any indication, either team will have its hands full with the Ravens. Carleton hit the century mark in back-to-back games against Lakehead and Guelph in January. On Jan. 16, Guelph was thumped by Carleton 101-59 before Lakehead received similar treatment the following night, losing 105-58.
The Ravens are led by Thomas Scrubb and Phillip Scrubb, who have been terrorizing defences across OUA for the past five seasons. In their final season at Carleton, the infamous Scrubb brothers would like nothing than to add another Wilson Cup to their resume. Thomas Scrubb leads the Ravens this season averaging 17.2 points per game and is followed closely by Phillip Scrubb at 16.6 points per game.
If Lakehead or Guelph can't find a way to shut down the exterior, it will be a quick trip to the nation's capital. As a team, Carleton ranks first in OUA in three-point percentage (46.1) with three of the top-5 3-point shooters in the league in their lineup.
Carleton will host the winner of Wednesday's first-round matchup at home in the quarter-finals on Saturday, Feb. 28.
(8) York Lions (10-9) vs. (9) Laurentian Voyaguers (7-12)
In their only meeting earlier this season, the Lions defeated the Voyageurs at home 83-66 on Jan. 9.
The Voyaguers will be looking for revenge this Wednesday when they travel to York to take on the Lions at 8 p.m.
Nick Tufegdzich had double-double for the Lions with a game-high of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Nathan Culbreath was right behind him with 20 points, 18 of which came in the third quarter.
Ryan Bennett had a team high 12 points for Laurentian in the loss. If the Voyageurs have any hopes of beating the Lions on their home court, they will need a huge performance from Bennett who is the Voyageurs leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points per game. Not only will the Lions have to shut down Bennett, they'll also have their hands full with Tychon Carter-Newman. The fourth year forward ranks 12th in OUA with 136 rebounds and seventh with 67 assists.
The winner of Wednesday's game advances to face the defending Wilson Cup champion (1) Ottawa Gee-Gees (18-1).
Ask the Voyageurs and they'll probably tell you they've seen just about enough of Johnny Berhanemeskel and the Gee-Gees the past couple seasons. Laurentian is 0-2 this season against Ottawa, falling at home to the Gee-Gees 95-65 on Nov. 14 and again to close out the regular season by a score of 112-73. York lost its only matchup with Ottawa 90-57 on Feb. 13.
However, the Voyaguers and Lions both knew that the road to the Wilson Cup would eventually wind its way through the city of Ottawa one way or another.
Like many teams before them, either York or Laurentian will need to find a way to try and contain Berhanemeskel. The OUA leading scorer, Berhanemeskel is averaging 23.2 points per game along with 85 assists, which ranks him third in the conference.
Unfortunately for Ottawa's opponents, "Johnny B" isn't the team's lone weapon. Centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue, while only averaging 10.7 points per game, leads OUA with a 58.3 field goal percentage.
Ottawa will host the winner of Wednesday's first-round matchup at home in the quarter-finals on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.
The OUA Men's Final Four will be hosted at the highest remaining seed. Semifinal action is scheduled to begin on March 6th followed by the Gold and Bronze medal games on March 7th.
OUA.tv will be your home for playoff basketball as the "Quest for the Cup" begins on Wednesday, Feb. 25.