Ottawa, Ont. – (BasketballBuzz) – In a match-up that has the whole country buzzing, it’s #1 vs. #2 as the Carleton University Ravens host their cross town rivals Ottawa Gee-Gees in what promises to be an electric atmosphere in the nations capital.
Separated by less than 15 kilometers from each other the two universities have become a major part of the local Ottawa basketball sports scene will once again have the eyes of the city and the whole nation as they fight for the number one spot! Respect, as well as local bragging rights will also be on the line in what is arguably Canada’s biggest collegiate basketball rivalry, and one that has given us some incredible CIS/U Sports Basketball memories over last decade.
Both teams enter the highly anticipated match-up undefeated in OUA (Ontario University Association) conference play at 8-0 — both are sporting identical overall records at 18-2, with the lone losses coming against NCAA DI powerhouses, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Cincinnati Bearcats.
The No. 2 Gee-Gees come in as the hottest team in the country riding a school record and an unbelievable 17-game winning streak that dates back to August 24 when the No. 7 Syracuse Orange handed them a 73-50 spanking, their only other hiccup, a tough a 95-82 loss at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers a squad which ranked No. 10 in the lastest NCAA national poll.
Carleton Ravens behind back-to-back player of year Philip Scrubb are off to their usual fine start — also dropping a 69-65 OT decision during the Orange’s trip to Ottawa, and recently a road against Bearcats’ of Cincinnati, coming short 77-63.
Both teams met three times last year and while the Ravens won all three contests the margin of victory was as close as it’s ever been between the two. The Ravens needed triple-overtime to pull-off a 111-107 victory at Montpetit Hall to close out the OUA regular season – (a game that clearly ranks as all-time CIS classic) and one has that sparked a rivalry that sees the Ravens holding a 47-14 all-time record dating back to 1974.
As for which team will win? The Ravens have to be the favorites, specially since they haven’t lost to the Gee-Gees since dropping a 77-71 decision back on February 17 of 2007. However, the feeling on the Gee-Gees camp is exactly the opposite and anybody who has paid close attention this year feels that the Gee-Gees finally have all the necessary tools to perhaps defeat the nine-time CIS champions.
Both squads have enough firepower and also come in ranked one and two, as the most potent offenses in the country. Carleton is averaging 96.6 points per game while Ottawa behind junior guard Johnny Berhanemeskel (25.4 PPG) are right behind them, putting-up 95.4 points per contest on their opponents.
What To Watch
Point Guard: Carleton’s Philip Scrubb vs. Gee-Gees backcourt
By now everybody is well aware of Scrubb’s ability to put points on the board, it will be interesting to see how UOttawa head coach James Derouin decides to play the back-back league MVP. The Gee-Gees have shown the ability to contain Scrubb and have some solid pieces in Micheal L’African (14 ppg, 4 apg, 3.6 reb) and back-up PG and defensive specialist Mehdi Tihani (10 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
There is no doubt, rebounding will be a key focus tonight specially for a Gee-Gees squad who has been looking to find consistency on the glass. Carleton is notorious for their gang style rebounding, will need to be contained on the offensive (14 rebounds per game) in order for the Gee-Gees to pull-off the upset.
Debut of Ottawa Gee-Gees transfer Terry Thomas
Behind all the optimism on the Gee-Gees bench is the debut of former 2011 CIS First Team All-Canadian Terry Thomas. An impact player who transferred from St. FX after being ruled academically ineligible last year. Thomas an East Preston, Nova Scotia native is expected to give Ottawa an additional athletic wing who averaged 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds in his last season with the X-Men, and could prove to be difference come March for the Gee-Gees.
Ranked numero uno in three-point shooting percentage are the Ravens, with a league leading 45.3%. Ottawa is also in the top 10, shooting at 36.7% clip. With both teams possessing the ability to knock down double figure three-pointers, expect somebody to “die by the three.” specially in a hectic environment that will be the Ravens Nest.