Wilson Cup playoffs resume Saturday with quarter-finals, live on OUA.tv

Wilson Cup playoffs resume Saturday with quarter-finals, live on OUA.tv

BURLINGTON, Ont. - And then there were eight.  The Wilson Cup playoffs continue Saturday with the quarter-final round as teams look to punch their ticket to next weekend's OUA Final Four.  Here are some storylines and players to keep an eye on Saturday as the #QuestfortheCup continues, live on OUA.tv.

No. 9 McMaster Marauders vs. No. 1 Carleton Ravens

After making the long trip to Windsor on Wednesday, the road hardened Marauders will be back on the bus as they head to Ottawa to take on the six-time defending U SPORTS champion Carleton Ravens.

For the Marauders to be thinking upset, they'll need to do a better job shooting from beyond the arc.  As a team, McMaster shot just 29 percent from downtown during the regular season, the lowest mark amongst teams still competing for the Wilson Cup.

In just his third season, Connor Gilmore (Etobicoke, Ont.) has established himself as one of the young, bright stars in the conference and will have the Marauders thinking upset when they step on the court Saturday.  Gilmore finished third overall in OUA averaging 19.5 points, while his 9 rebounds per game ranked him fifth in the conference.

Marauders fifth-year senior Rohan Boney (Oakville, Ont.) will want to make sure that Saturday's game isn't his last so look for him to play a major role in the outcome.  Boney finished fourth this season with 71 assists, while his 14.8 points per game ranked him just outside the top 15.

Boney and Gilmore will have their work cut out for them as they'll have to do something that no team has been able to do this season: beat Carleton.

The Ravens soar into Saturday's game coming off an undefeated 19-0 regular season that saw them dominate almost every aspect of the game. 

Under the guidance of head coach Dave Smart, Carleton was once again the best defensive team in the league, limiting the opposition to just 55.2 points per game.  As a team, the Ravens held their opponents to league-lows in both field goal (34.4) and three-point percentage (27.7).

On the flip side, not only can Carleton play shutdown defence, but they can also score (and score in a hurry).  The Ravens averaged 87 points per game in the regular season thanks shooting a staggering 50.2 percent from the field.

As one of the best three-point shooters in the country, fifth-year Ravens guard Connor Wood (Guelph, Ont.) has game breaking-potential.  Shooting 50 percent from downtown this season, Wood led OUA with 76 made three-pointers and finished sixth overall averaging 19.1 points per game.

From one Ravens veteran to another Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) finished first in OUA with 104 assists and ranked second on the Ravens behind Wood with 15.5 points per game.

The Marauders are hoping their second trip to the Ravens' Nest this season goes better than the first as Carleton prevailed 81-67 to close out the 2016 portion of the schedule.  Wood had a game-high 26 points for the Ravens, while Gilmore countered with a team-high 23 points in the loss.

Should the Ravens win Saturday, Carleton would host the Wilson Cup Final Four next weekend.

 

No. 7 Laurentian Voyageurs vs. No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees

After winning two titles in a three year span from 1998-2000, the Laurentian Voyageurs are looking to snap a 17-year drought this season.  To do so, they'll find a way to solve their OUA North Division rivals and 2014 OUA champions, the uOttawa Gee-Gees.

Coming off a year in which they averaged 75.7 points per game, the Voyageurs proved many doubters wrong along the way to a 9-10 record playing in arguably the toughest division in the country.

Laurentian made the most of their trips to the charity stripe, converting 76.7 percent of their attempts which ranked them second overall in the province.

Voyageurs rookie phenom Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.) took the conference and country by storm this year, as he led OUA averaging 23.2 points per game.  With a game-changer like Gray in their lineup, the Voyageurs have to be feeling confident heading to the nation's capital on Saturday.

Making his OUA playoff debut, Gray stole the show on Wednesday, finishing with a game high 26 points as the Voyageurs defeated the visiting Laurier Golden Hawks 88-72.

The Gee-Gees are one of the most well balanced teams in the conference, averaging almost 79 points on offence, while limiting the opposition to just 63.7 points.

It's no wonder that uOttawa ranked as one of the best defensive teams in OUA as they also finished in the top five in both blocks (2.9) and steals (8.1) per game.

A major reason for the Gee-Gees success defensively this year has been the strong play of fifth-year senior Caleb Adaga (Burlington, Ont.).  However, Agada, the 2015-16 OUA Defensive Player of the Year, sat out two of the final three regular season games due to injury.  With his status for the quarter-finals questionable, the Gee-Gees will surely welcome anything the shutdown defender and the team's leading scorer can offer them.

The Gee-Gees will look to Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles (Ottawa, Ont.) to add some additional scoring down low after putting up 14.4 points per game during the regular season.  After transferring from the crosstown rival Ravens last year, Pierre-Charles has been a welcomed addition to the Gee-Gees roster, finishing fifth in field goal percentage (54.1) and sixth in the OUA with 8.7 rebounds per game. 

The Vees will need to also keep fourth-year forward Brody Maracle (Napanee, Ont.) in check as he shot a team high 61.2 percent from the field this season.

uOttawa swept their regular season series with the Voyageurs, including a 92-77 victory at Montpetit Hall back on Jan. 13.

 

No. 6 Nipissing Lakers vs. No. 3 Ryerson Rams

2016-17 has been a season of firsts for the Nipissing Lakers with their first playoff win in their first playoff game in program history.  But if they hope to advance to the Wilson Cup for the first time, they'll have to hand the defending champs from Ryerson their first home loss since 2014.

Just three years removed from a 0-19 record in their inaugural OUA season, the Lakers are wading into unfamiliar water as they travel to Toronto on Saturday to try and sink the Rams.

You can attribute much of the Lakers success this year to their discipline play as they only committed 14.6 personal fouls per game, the lowest mark in the OUA.  Nipissing moved the ball well this season, finishing third with 15.6 assists per game.

Coming off the bench for the majority of the season, Justin Shaver (Ottawa, Ont.) is about as good a sixth-man as you'll find in the OUA.  Now in his third year, Shaver finished second on the team averaging 12.2 points to go along with 8.6 rebounds in just 23 minutes per night.

Another young Laker on the verge of stardom is third-year guard Marcus Lewis (Brampton, Ont.).  Lewis played a major role in Nipissing's success this season as he led the team and ranked inside the OUA top 20 with 14.7 points per game.

With what is expected to be a raucous pro-Rams crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Saturday, Nipissing will need to keep their emotions in check as they face Ryerson in their biggest game so far in program history.

No one scored more points this year in the OUA than the Rams which is an impressive feat given that teams in the West division play one more regular season game.  Much of the Rams triumphs im 2016-17 are a result of their sustained shooting from beyond the arc.  Of Ryerson's league-high 88.7 points per game, 35 of those came from downtown.

Despite getting to the line just 15.9 times per game, the Rams made the most of their opportunities, sinking 78.8 percent of their chances for the highest success rate in the conference.

Leading the Rams' Wilson Cup defence this season are seniors Adika Peter-McNeilly (Scarborough, Ont.) and Ammanuel Diressa (Toronto, Ont.).  Peter-McNeilly led the Rams with 19.2 points per game, just 0.2 ahead of his teammate Diressa.  The Lakers will want to avoid fouling either Peter-McNeilly or Diressa as they ranked first and third, respectively, in free throw percentage during the regular season.

In their only meeting of the year, Ryerson defeated Nipissing 84-64 on Nov. 18 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.  Peter-McNeilly had a game high 18 points in the win for the Rams.

 

No. 5 University of Toronto Varsity Blues vs. No. 4 Brock Badgers

Coming off their first playoff victory since 2009, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues head to St. Catharines on Saturday for a showdown with the No. 5 nationally ranked Brock Badgers.

Throughout the regular season, Toronto was one of the top teams in the OUA from downtown, shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc which ranked them second overall.  The Blues were one of the most responsible teams in the conference with the ball this year, averaging just 12.8 turnovers per game. 

Now in his final season with Toronto, fifth-year veteran Devin Johnson (Ajax, Ont.) is the heart and soul of Blues team looking to advance to the Wilson Cup Final Four.  A two-time OUA all-star, Johnson showed no signs of slowing down this season as he finished second in the conference, averaging 20.5 points per game.

In their first home playoff game since 2011, Toronto beat the visiting Lakehead Thunderwolves handedly, 82-61.  Playing at home for the final time of his OUA career, Johnson went out with a bang, finishing with a game high 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Badgers have claimed #WeAreReady all season long but now they'll need to prove it as they look to take another step towards hoisting the Wilson Cup for the first time since 1992.

While the Blues love to fire away from three-point range, the Badgers prefer to attack from in close.  As a team, they average just 17.4 attempts from beyond the arc, which had them tied for last in the conference.    

The Badgers have one of the best one-two punches in Ontario in former OUA Rookie of the Year award winners Dani Elgadi (Waterloo, Ont.) and Johneil Simpson (Toronto, Ont.). 

Elgadi was the only player in OUA this season to finish averaging a double-double after scoring 14.7 points and grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game.  After starting the first nine games of the season, Simpson provides some much need energy coming off the bench and ranks in the top 20 with a 46.6 field goal percentage.

In their first and only meeting of the season, the Badgers survived a scare from the Blues in their home opener with a narrow 71-69 victory.  Johnson had a game-high 23 points in the loss for the Blues.