Three teams from last year's OUA Wilson Cup Final Four – the Carleton Ravens, Ottawa Gee-Gees, and Windsor Lancers – are returning to the dance this year, along with the Ryerson Rams, who missed out on the tournament in 2014.
All four teams come into the weekend ranked in the CIS Top 10 and have their eyes on winning the 2015 Wilson Cup, presented by Recharge with Milk, when the OUA Final Four tournament begins on Friday, March 6 hosted by the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Montpetit Hall.
The CIS No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens saw their bid at a Wilson Cup three-peat come crashing down last season when Ottawa Gee-Gees guard Johnny Berhanemeskel drained the winning basket in the championship game's dying seconds.
Carleton split its season series with the Gee-Gees this year, and reclaimed the top seed in the country after defeating Ottawa in the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic. Once again, the Scrubb brothers, forward Thomas Scrubb and guard Philip Scrubb lead the way for the Ravens. The duo led the team averaging 17.2 and 16.6 points per game, respectively.
The Ravens men's basketball program has become synonymous with success in CIS basketball, as the team has won four consecutive national championships, and ten of the past 12.
If 'Johnny B' is cutting down the net again at the end of this year's tournament, it will be the first time in school history that the No. 2 Gee-Gees have won back-to-back OUA titles. Along with draining another game-winning shot in the final seconds in Ottawa's first regular season meeting with Carleton – temporarily propelling the Gee-Gees to No. 1 in the country – Berhanemeskel went on to lead the conference in scoring, averaging 23.2 points per game.
Ottawa will also need a strong performance from fifth-year centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue, who averaged 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this season.
No team is entering the tournament as hot as the No. 3 Ryerson Rams, who have won 12 games in a row dating back to the regular season, the longest current winning streak of any remaining OUA team. Ryerson will be in tough, though, as their only two losses of the season came during their road trip against Carleton and Ottawa.
Fifth-year point guard Jahmal Jones is hoping to end his OUA career on top after averaging a team leading 17.2 points and 5.2 assists this season. Guard Aaron Best was the team's second-leading scorer during the regular season, averaging 14.6 points, and can ease the offensive burden on Jones.
The No. 5 Windsor Lancers faced the toughest playoff test of the four remaining teams as they knocked off the No. 4 McMaster Marauders 85-70 on the road in the quarter-finals. Windsor grabbed headlines in the regular season when they defeated the Carleton Ravens 74-71 on Jan. 23, but lost both their games against Ryerson and Ottawa.
Guard Rotimi Osuntola Jr. carries much of the offensive burden for Windsor having finished fourth in the conference with 20.2 points per game in the regular season, and led OUA in rebounds with 11.5 per game.
Windsor will look for secondary scoring from a combination of players, including the team's second-leading scorer guard Mitch Farrell.
Every team in the tournament is capable of lighting up the scoreboard, as they were the four highest scoring teams during the regular season. Ottawa led the way averaging 94.1 points per game, followed by Carleton (91.1), Ryerson (89.3) and Windsor (86.6).
But as any coach will likely tell you, championships are won on the defensive end, which is what has always made Carleton so difficult to play against.
The Ravens once again allowed the fewest points per game in the regular season, giving up just 56.4 points to their opponents. Ryerson and Ottawa ranked second and third in the conference, respectively, giving up 65.9 and 69.2 points per game. Windsor will need to find a way to buckle down on the defensive end, as they ranked seventh in points allowed during the regular season, averaging 75.0 points per game.
The tournament begins with the Ottawa Gee-Gees facing the Windsor Lancers at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 6 in the first semifinal matchup, followed by the Carleton Ravens and Ryerson Rams at 8 p.m.
The two semifinal winners will meet in OUA Wilson Cup Championship game the following day, Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m., while the semifinal losers will play for bronze at 6 p.m.
All games will take place at Montpetit Hall on the University of Ottawa Campus and will be broadcast live on OUA.tv!
The Ryerson Rams, who are hosting the CIS Final 8 National Championship from March 12-15, are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, along with the two other highest finishing schools at the Wilson Cup Final Four.