HAMILTON - Ontario University Athletics (OUA) unveiled its men's and women's basketball schedule for the 2014-15 season on Monday showcasing the new divisional alignment and playoff format approved last month at its Annual General Meeting.
The schedule includes the creation of a four division league and a four round playoff structure which sees 12 of 17 teams qualify for the post-season all in pursuit of berth into the OUA Final Four set for March 6-7.
The new era of OUA basketball kicks off on Wednesday, November 5 as the Windsor Lancers visit the Western Mustangs in London, Ont., while the Ryerson Rams battle the Waterloo Warriors in Waterloo, Ont., on opening night. A full slate of action will follow on November 7-8.
The Nipissing Lakers join the OUA in both men's and women's basketball for the first time in 2014-15 and will play their inaugural games on Sunday, November 8th when they visit the Algoma Thunderbirds in Sault Ste Marie, Ont. The Lakers season of firsts will continue when they battle the Carleton Ravens on November 14th at home in the first ever OUA basketball games played in North Bay, Ont.
The University of Toronto will showcase their new home court on November 15-16 when the Windsor Lancers and Western Mustangs visit the Varsity Blues at the brand new Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. The new facility is a 2,000 seat world-class sport facility and will also be used the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.
The Capital Hoops Classic, which features the Ottawa Gee-Gees in a grudge match against the rival Carleton Ravens, will be in the spotlight on February 6th. The ninth version of the annual contest will be played at the Canadian Tire Centre with tipoff set for 6 and 8pm (women's and men's). Last year the Ravens won both the women's and men's games.
Additional games highlighting the men's schedule include:
- On November 28, the Ryerson Rams travel to Ottawa to take on the Gee-Gees. Last year the Rams were defeated by Ottawa in the quarter-final by single point, marking the second straight season that Ryerson was denied an opportunity to compete for the Wilson Cup on their home court.
- McMaster travels to Windsor on December 4 in a rematch of the 2014 bronze medal game. The Marauders booked their spot in last year's CIS Final 8 with a thrilling 93-89 overtime victory.
- Carleton and Ottawa renew their rivalry on January 10 in a rematch of the 2014 Wilson Cup championship. Ottawa captured the Wilson Cup with a 78-77 victory on a last second shot, breaking Carleton's 49-game winning streak and two year reign as OUA champions.
Additional games highlighting the women's schedule include:
- Divisional rivals Toronto and Ryerson will kick off the second half of the season on January 7 with a battle at the Goldring Centre. Last season the Varsity Blues ended the Rams season with a thrilling 69-66 victory in the OUA quarter-final.
- Carleton will travel to Laurier on November 21, looking to avenge their 70-65 loss to the Golden Hawks in last year's bronze medal game. The loss ended the Raven seasons, while Laurier advanced to the CIS Final 8.
- The Queen's Gaels will look to extract revenge as they head to Windsor to meet the Lancers in a rematch of the 2014 OUA Championship. In that game, the Lancers claimed their fifth OUA title in the last six years dusting the Gaels 73-48.
The end of the first semester will be marked on November 29 with Ryerson visiting the Carleton Ravens while McMaster heads to play the Windsor Lancers to close the first half of the year. The second semester will tip off with six games on January 7th (men's and women's) with Wilfrid Laurier at McMaster, Western heading down the 401 to Windsor and Toronto battling cross-town rival Ryerson.
14 games will close the regular season on February 21 with three teams from each division making the playoffs under the new format.
The top three teams from each OUA division will qualify for the postseason. All twelve qualifying teams, regardless of division position, will be ranked based on RPI (Rating Percentage Index) to determine the playoff bracket. The RPI rankings will be calculated and applied by the OUA based on regular season results against the other playoff teams. The top four teams based on the rankings will be awarded byes through the first round of the playoffs.
The OUA playoffs, presented by Investor's Group, will consist of four rounds with the preliminary round slated for Wednesday, February 25 followed by the quarter-finals on February 28. The OUA Wilson Cup Final Four, presented by Recharge with Milk, and OUA Women's Final Four, presented by ArcelorMittal Dofasco, will be hosted by the highest remaining men's and women's teams respectively, and are set for Friday, March 6th and Saturday, March 7th. The CIS Final 8 will take place just one week later on March 12-15 with the men's final hosted by the Ryerson Rams at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and women's hosted by Universite Laval Rouge et Or at the PEPS Stadium.
Under the new divisional alignment, teams will compete under the West, Central, East, and North banners. The West Division will be a five-team grouping (Algoma, Waterloo, Western, Wilfrid Laurier, Windsor) and include double-header weekends in Sault Ste. Marie against the Thunderbirds within an eight game home-at-home schedule within the division. The West will also play a single game against teams from the Central, East, and North, totalling 20 games. The remaining three divisions consist of four teams will play a 19 game schedule. The Central Division (Brock, Guelph, Lakehead, McMaster) will play double-header weekends at Lakehead. The North Division (Carleton, Laurentian, Nipissing, Ottawa) will feature the league's newest team as the Nipissing Lakers join competition, while the East Division (Queen's, Ryerson, Toronto, York) will enhance some traditional OUA rivalries.