The OUA released the long-awaited schedules of its varsity sports on Wednesday afternoon, and with it the news surrounding conference realignment and scheduling changes for OUA Men’s Basketball in 2017-18. While teams played 19-20 games in the 2016-17 season, team in the newly formed Western Conference will now play 24 games and teams in the Eastern Conference will play 23.
The news and structure of the OUA Conference and Divisional re-alignment had been the worst kept secret in Ontario with reports on the potential structure surfacing as early as March from Adam Jenkins and Neate Sager. The previous four divisions (East, North, Central, Western) have been grouped into two larger conferences, with the new Eastern Conference made up of the previous East and North divisions and the Western Conference made up of the previous Central and Western divisions.
The new playoff structure sees the top six teams in each conference receiving a playoff berth, ranked based on team records, not RPI. The top two teams in each conference will receive a first round bye. The 4 teams remaining after the first round in each conference would then play for a crossover semifinal bid, but the single-site Final Four is no longer in play in OUA Playoffs. This entire re-alignment is explained by the league HERE and mirrors the structure of 3 years ago. The new conferences for the 2017-18 season can be found below:
|OUA Western Conference||OUA Eastern Conference|
|Algoma Thunderbirds (West)||Carleton Ravens (North)|
|Brock Badgers (Central)||Laurentian Voyageurs (North)|
|Guelph Gryphons (Central)||Nipissing Lakers (North)|
|Lakehead Thunderwolves (Central)||Ottawa Gee-Gees (North)|
|Laurier Golden Hawks (West)||Queen’s Gaels (East)|
|McMaster Marauders (Central)||Ryerson Rams (East)|
|Waterloo Warriors (West)||Toronto Varsity Blues (East)|
|Western Mustangs (West)||York Lions (East)|
|Windsor Lancers (West)|
The biggest concern for coaches ever since these rumours about realignment began is the strength at the top of the OUA Eastern Conference, with Carleton, Ryerson and Ottawa, with Nipissing and Laurentian trending upwards behind them. Carleton, Ottawa, and Ryerson have all earned berths in the OUA Wilson Cup Final Four the past three seasons, but under this new format at least one of those three teams is guaranteed to not be a part of the four top teams in Ontario, and limits the chances of a berth in the U SPORTS Final 8 Championships.
The first six weeks of the regular season spanning October 25th to December 2nd are used for “Interlock Games” where teams will play all of their inter-conference (outside of their conference) opponents in the first semester and will only play their conference opponents in the second-semester portion of the season, spanning from January 3rd to February 17th.
With the schedule now over 200 games long it’s difficult to pick the “Top 5 Games” of the 2017-18 OUA season, but these five might just be the most interesting matchups on the bill.
Five Most Interesting Games of the 2017-18 OUA Men’s Basketball Season:
McMaster Marauders @ York Lions
Saturday, November 4ᵗʰ, 2017 | 8:00 PM
The 2017 offseason saw 2 coaching changes take place in the OUA as Patrick Tatham replaced Amos Connolly at McMaster and Nate Philippe replaced Tom Oliveri at York. These 2 new coaches will face off against each other in just the third game of the season at the Tait McKenzie Centre at York.
Brock Badgers @ Ryerson Rams
Wednesday, November 8ᵗʰ, 2017 | 8:00 PM
While Carleton/Ottawa’s Capital Hoops has gained a ton of notoriety as the best rivalry in the OUA Brock and Ryerson may have missed that memo as both student bodies have sent busloads to away games between these two and having last year’s 74-65 Brock victory played at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines. This matchup will serve as Ryerson’s Home Opener and rumours state that the game may be played in the upper-bowl on the ice surface at Maple Leaf Gardens. Should be an electric atmosphere between two of the best teams in their respective divisions.
Ryerson Rams @ Carleton Ravens
Friday, January 5ᵗʰ, 2018 | 8:00 PM
A rematch of the last 2 Wilson Cup Finals and last year’s National Championship Game, need I say more? First game back from the holiday break at the Ravens Nest for these two OUA powerhouses. Easy pick for one of the best games on the 2017-18 OUA schedule.
Laurentian Voyageurs @ Nipissing Lakers
Wednesday, January 31ˢᵗ, 2018 | 8:00 PM
Laurentian and Nipissing have a great rivalry of their own up North as the 705 Challenge Cup has gained popularity at both schools and both basketball programs under Shawn Swords and Chris Cheng improved mightily last year. In a tough East Division games like this become increasingly important and one of the most intriguing matchups on the schedule.
Carleton Ravens @ Ottawa Gee-Gees
Friday, February 2ⁿᵈ, 2018 | 8:00 PM
Capital Hoops at the Canadian Tire Centre is set to see a lot of new faces this year, but the game itself should be just as good as all previous meetings of this size between these two schools from Ottawa. One of the best atmosphere’s in Canada in front of two huge fanbases, it just doesn’t get much better than this.