OTTAWA,ON–The OUA playoffs are under way and the first round of eliminations on Wednesday, February 23 have determined a clear picture of the competition.
The top six teams from the OUA east and OUA west qualify for the playoffs. With eight teams in each division, two teams do not make the cut. The first seed and the second seed from both divisions receive a bye and move to the OUA quarterfinals automatically.
This leaves games for the sixth at the third seed, and fifth at fourth seed, with the lowest ranked winning team of these four facing the first ranked team in the OUA east. In the OUA west, the playoff structure is static and doesn’t realign if a lower ranked team makes it to the semi-finals. This means the winner of the 6 @ 3 series will always play the second seeded team, while the winner of the 5 @ 4 game will play the first seeded team in the OUA west.
All of this to say, the quarter-final matchups have been determined. In the West #3 Laurier defeated #6 Guelph 80-72, while #5 Western surprised #4 McMaster, winning 78-67. Laurier will face OUA West’s second ranked Windsor in the quarter-finals, while first place Lakehead (17-5 in the regular season) will match up against Western. In the East, #3 Ottawa knocked off #6 Laurentian, 83-77, while #4 Ryerson knocked off #5 York 80-70. Ottawa moves on to OUA East’s second-ranked team, Toronto (U of T), while Ryerson draws an unfortunate matchup with OUA favourite, first-ranked Carleton (who finished their season a perfect 22-0).
On Saturday February 26 in Windsor, Lakehead, Toronto and Carleton, four games hold the hopes and aspirations of a long season that has come to crunch time. Teams will look to run their systems they have employed all season long and play committed basketball and advance out of the quarter-finals.
The winners will find themselves in the OUA final four, the semi-final round held this year at McMaster in Hamilton, where a two-day tournament from March 4-5 will crown an Ontario champion. The higher-ranked East seed will match up with the lower-ranked West seed, and the higher-ranked West seed will face the lower-ranked East seed in the OUA final four on March 4th and the OUA final ‘Wilson Cup’ championship will be held March 5th.
The top two teams from Ontario will move on after the OUA finals to compete in the CIS National Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia from March 11-13. Although Carleton is the highest-ranked team in the CIS with an impressive 22-0 undefeated season, second-ranked Toronto finished 14-8 and the rest of the division has been easy pickings for the disciplined Ravens. With Cape Breton emerging from the Atlantic at 17-1 (with two games remaining), 11-4 Concordia looking to surprise from Quebec, and the dogfight in Canada West division between UBC (22-2), Trinity Western (21-3) and Saskatchewan (20-4), the national playoff picture is anything but clear. For now, stay tuned to the OUA playoffs as CIS teams embark in playoff basketball once more.
NPH will also be providing Wilson Cup coverage, be sure to check back for results, updates, player and team analysis!