Critelli Cup champion Rams open 2016-17 season Nov. 5 on road vs. Golden Hawks

Critelli Cup champion Rams open 2016-17 season Nov. 5 on road vs. Golden Hawks

BURLINGTON, Ont. - Ontario University Athletics (OUA) unveiled the men's and women's basketball schedule for the 2016-17 season on Monday.

The season kicks off on Saturday, November 5 with four men's and women's double-headers.  The Ryerson Rams, defending Wilson Cup and Critelli Cup champions, will begin their title defence on the road as they travel to Waterloo, Ont. to take on the Laurier Golden Hawks. 

Across town, the Waterloo Warriors will welcome the visiting University of Toronto Varsity Blues to the Physical Activities Complex (PAC).  The Guelph Gryphons and Western Mustangs will renew their rivalry in the "Forest City" to open 2016-17, while the Algoma Thunderbirds and Lakehead Thunderwolves will meet in Thunder Bay, Ont. for an early OUA North division battle. 

A full slate of action will follow on November 11-12.

Teams will be looking to head into the holiday break on a winning note as there are eight doubleheaders scheduled for Saturday, December 3 to close out the 2016 portion of the schedule.  The up-and-coming Brock Badgers will complete the back end of a tough Ottawa road trip against the Gee-Gees, while the Windsor Lancers will be in Toronto, Ont. to take on the defending champion Rams.

The winter semester will tip off on January 6 when the Western Mustangs and Queen's Gaels renew their historic rivalry on the hard court in Kingston, Ont. at the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC).

The 11th annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic, between the crosstown rival Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens, will tipoff from the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday, February 3 at 6:00pm and 8:00pm (women's and men's).  Last year, the Ravens women shocked the Critelli Cup finalist Gee-Gees 73-50 for their first series victory since 2013, while the uOttawa men completed a rare regular season sweep of Carleton with a 78-72 win. 

Fourteen teams will be in action on Saturday, February 18 as the regular season concludes and teams battle for final playoff positioning.

Additional games highlighting the women's schedule include:

  • On January 7, the Queen's Gaels will travel to Windsor, Ont. to take on the Lancers for the first time since their matchup in the OUA Showcase at NBA Centre Court as part of the NBA All-Star festivities.
  • After finishing first and second, respectively, in the OUA West division, the Windsor Lancers and Western Mustangs will meet for a home-and-home series on Wednesday, January 11 and Saturday, January 14.  The two teams split their regular season meetings a season ago.
  • Like their counterparts, the Ryerson Rams and their fans will have to wait until the final weekend of the regular season for a championship rematch.  On February 18, the Rams will return to Montpetit Hall for their first time since hoisting the inaugural Critelli Cup to close out the 2016-17 regular season.

Additional games highlighting the men's schedule include:

  • The Brock Badgers will make the trip to "The Hammer" on Wednesday, November 16 for a midweek matchup against the rival McMaster Marauders.  Last season, the two teams split their regular season meetings, with each team picking up a big road victory
  • Prior to the MBNA Capital Hoops Classic, uOttawa and Carleton will meet once again in the "Bytown Battle" on Tuesday, January 17.  This year's games will be hosted by uOttawa after the Gee-Gees men and women shocked the Ravens with a two-game sweep in the Nest.
  • The defending Wilson Cup champion Ryerson Rams will make the trip to Ottawa, Ont. in the final weekend of the regular season for a pair of games with potential playoff implications against the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees.  The Rams defeated the Ravens 73-68 to capture their first OUA championship in school history last season.

Both OUA men's and women's basketball is split into a four division format and a four round playoff structure which sees 12 of 17 teams qualify for the post-season all in pursuit of berth into the Wilson Cup Final Four and the Critelli Cup Final Four, both of which are scheduled for March 3-4.

Once again this season, teams will again compete within the West, Central, East, and North divisions.

The West Division will once again 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, totaling 20 games.

The remaining three divisions consist of four teams and 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) features one of the best geographical rivalries in the OUA with crosstown rivals Ottawa and Carleton, while the East Division (Queen's, Ryerson, Toronto, York) will enhance some traditional OUA rivalries.

The top twelve teams, regardless of divisional position, will be ranked based on RPI (Rating Percentage Index) to determine the playoff bracket.  The top four teams based on the rankings will be awarded byes through the first round of the playoffs.

New for the 2016-17 season, the RPI rankings will be calculated and applied by the OUA based on regular season results against all conference teams.  In the past, RPI had been calculated based on records against playoff bound teams.
 
The OUA playoffs will consist of four rounds with the preliminary round slated for Wednesday, February 22 followed by the quarter-finals on Saturday, February 25. The Wilson Cup Final Four and Critelli Cup Final Four, will be hosted by the highest remaining men's and women's teams, respectively.  The semifinals are set for Friday, March 3, while the bronze and gold medal games will take place on Saturday, March 4.

The 2017 CIS Final 8 championships will take place just one week later on March 9-12 with the men's final hosted by Dalhousie University at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S., while the women's championship will be hosted by the University of Victoria, March 9-12 in Victoria, B.C.

The full 2016-17 schedules can be found here:

Men

Women