OUA Playoff Preview: Final four teams in place with Wilson Cup favourites set to do battle

OUA Playoff Preview: Final four teams in place with Wilson Cup favourites set to do battle

BURLINGTON, Ont. – The top seeds in their respective divisions handled their quarterfinal matchups, while both No. 3 seeds stepped up in a big way against their higher ranked foes. With semifinals looming and divisions now crossing over, Wednesday’s pair of 1 v. 3 matchups will determine which two squads will battle for Saturday’s Wilson Cup.

West No. 3 Ryerson Rams (17-6) vs. East No. 1 Brock Badgers (21-3)

The Badgers weren’t messing around in their quarterfinal matchup, immediately grounding the Golden Hawks right out of the gates. After the first half, Brock was leading Laurier 53-14, proving why they have been one of the nation’s top teams all season. While the Hawks made it closer with a second half push, the Badgers were ultimately able to kick off their quest for the cup in winning fashion.

It was a different type of victory for their semifinal foes; however, as for the second time in as many rounds, the Ryerson Rams were able to turn a three quarter nail-biter into a pull-away victory in the fourth and final frame. This time, the West Division’s third seed were able to slay their second-ranked opponents – Ottawa Gee-Gees – by a 77-69 score.

Helping to lead the way for the Rams was, once again, Manny Diressa, who stuffed the stat sheet with another well-rounded performance; something that the Toronto, Ont. native will undoubtedly be looking to repeat in Wednesday’s semifinal clash. In fact, in the teams’ first and only matchup of the season, Diressa was not in the lineup for the Rams – who ended up losing by an 80-75 score – so the OUA-standout will be chomping at the bit to go head-to-head with the nation’s No. 3 team.   

Another Ram who stepped up in that early season matchup with Brock, just like he did in both of Ryerson’s playoff tilts thus far, is Jean-Victor Mukama. A 23 point, 13 rebound explosion against the St. Catharines squad injected a clear jolt in the Rams’ closely-contested outcome, but his 39 combined points in the playoffs have had massive payouts in the team’s eventual victories. And for the Rams to outduel the 2nd ranked offense of the Badgers, they’ll need a similarly impressive effort from their entire squad on Wednesday.

Hitting the hardwood to maintain their impressive offensive pace will be Brock’s leading duo of Dani Elgadi and Cassidy Ryan, with the latter dropping 32 points against the Rams in their November matchup. The dynamic duo have been a leading force all season, and were joined by teammates Johneil Simpson and Tyler Brown as double-digit scorers in their quarterfinal clash. Against the 4th ranked Ryerson defense, Brock will certainly welcome a similar performance from their starting unit to give them the edge when the final buzzer sounds.

Overall, no matter how it plays out on Wednesday, it will be a must-see clash between U SPORTS giants.

East No. 3 Windsor Lancers (13-11) vs. West No. 1 Carleton Ravens (23-0)

For the second straight game, Mike Rocca led the Windsor Lancers to postseason triumph, and the senior will shoot for the three-peat against the nation’s top squad in Wednesday’s semifinal. In the quarters, Rocca poured in 24 points and grabbed 13 boards, ultimately guiding the East Division’s No. 3 seed to their fifth final four run in the last six seasons.

Such a game-changing impact is not a new feat for Rocca; however, as he also led the Lancers in scoring during the season, but he won’t be alone when trying to hand the Ravens their first loss. In fact, he’ll be joined by a trio of fellow double-digit scorers, including Marcus Jones, Lucas Orlita, and Anthony Zrvnar, all contributing to the conference’s third-ranked offense. But while this talented group has what it takes to keep up with the high-flying Ravens offensively, their defense – which ranks 17th in the OUA – will need to be up to par to manage their semifinal combatants.

Looking to take advantage of this opportunity is the No. 1 ranked offense in the country, which checks in at 88.5 points per game. Coming off their quarterfinal win over Laurentian, the Ravens will once again turn to their leading duo of Yasiin Joseph and Eddie Ekiyor to impose their will on offense. After 46 combined points last round, and an average of nearly 30 points per game this season, the pair will undoubtedly be a point of focus for the undefeated squad.

Additional focus will need to be given to the other end of the floor as well, with the hopes of reeling in the gifted Lancers’ offense; a tough matchup that saw Windsor post 83 points in their first and only matchup this season. While the Ravens ultimately won the game (97-83), penning a similar script as they have all season behind the potent play of their leading pair, this semifinal should bring fireworks on both ends of the floor to determine who advances to get a shot at a Wilson Cup triumph.  

Both semifinal clashes can be seen live on OUA.tv on Wednesday, February 28, with Brock and Ryerson tipping off at 7:30pm and the Carleton-Windsor matchup kicking off at 8:00pm. Both winners will advance to Saturday’s Wilson Cup final.

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