CIS Final Eight

From March 12 to 15, Ryerson is hosting the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) final eight men's basketball tournament. This is the first time Ryerson has hosted a major national sporting event and the first time this tournament has been hosted in Toronto since it began in 1963. The Eyeopener will have coverage of the whole tournament. Here is the look at the eight teams that will be competing for the W. P. McGee Trophy.

Carleton Ravens

  • Regular season record: 17-2

  • Result in the playoffs: OUA champion

  • Last CIS appearance: 2014 (1st place)

  • Points per game: 91.1

  • Rebounds per game: 41.6

  • More information: The Carleton Ravens are Canadian basketball royalty. In the past eight seasons, the Ravens have gone to nationals. Led by OUA defensive player of the year Thomas Scrubb and his brother Phil (16.6 ppg), Carleton finished the season with a 17-2 record, with their losses coming to Ottawa and Windsor, two teams that also qualified for the final eight. In the Wilson Cup, Carleton faced Ryerson and clawed their way to an 84-80 victory after trailing for a large portion of the game. The team advanced to face Windsor in the final, and staked their claim as the best team in the country, beating the Lancers 103-59 in a blowout victory. Though at times they looked unbeatable, their close battle with Ryerson showed that they are susceptible. However, if any team wants to beat them, as Ryerson's Jahmal Jones says, that team has to be prepared to play its toughest game of the season.
  • Photo: Valerie Wutti

Windsor Lancers

  • Regular season record: 15-5

  • Result in the playoffs: OUA silver medal

  • Last CIS appearance: 2010 (6th place)

  • Points per game: 86.6

  • Rebounds per game: 45.0

  • More information: The Lancers, a stellar club throughout the season, impressed with a first-round win at the OUA championships over Ottawa. Led by homegrown guard Rotimi Osuntola Jr. and Mitch Farrell, Windsor provides a considerable challenge to the Rams in the opening matchup. Osuntola Jr., led the OUA in rebounds and blocks per game, an unheard of statistic which will no doubt provide a significant challenge to opposing backcourts. With their impressive tournament showing, Windsor moved to the second overall ranking at the final eight, and with their powerful attack they will likely provide a challenge to the Ryerson Rams in their matchup, even though they lost by 20 points in their last meeting.
  • Photo: Charles Vanegas

Ottawa Gee-Gees

  • Regular season record: 18-1

  • Result in the playoffs: OUA bronze medal

  • Last CIS appearance: 2014 (2nd place)

  • Points per game: 94.5

  • Rebounds per game: 38.2

  • More information: The Gee-Gees slid into the final eight as the wild card seed, but they aren't exactly a bunch of chumps. For the majority of the year, Ottawa was the top-ranked team in the country, led by senior guard Johnny Berhanemeskel, the OUA Player of the Year. Berhanemeskel, along with forward Caleb Agada and centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue are the focuses of one of the most complete rosters in the country, one that ranked first in points per game, field goal percentage and three pointers per game. Ottawa took the Wilson Cup bronze medal in a dominant win over Ryerson, led by Berhanemeskel's 37 points. Their seeding aside, the Gee-Gee's remain a strong contender in this tournament.

    Photo: Richard A. Whittaker

Victoria Vikes

  • Regular season record: 15-15

  • Result in the playoffs: CWUAA champion

  • Last CIS appearance: 2014 (4th place)

  • Points per game: 78.6

  • Rebounds per game: 38.7

  • More information: The Vikes enter this tournament as the CWUAA champions after beating the Saskatchewan Huskies 70-67 in the final. Last year, Victoria finished fourth in the CIS final eight, losing to the Alberta Golden Bears 61-53. Fifth-year point guard Chris McLaughlin, from Oakville Ont., is the leader on this team, ranking in the top five in the conference in points per game (19.8), rebounds (10.0) and field goal percentage (59.0).

    Photo courtesy Victoria Vikes

Dalhousie Tigers

  • Regular season record: 10-10

  • Result in the playoffs: AUS champion

  • Last CIS appearance: 2011 (6th place)

  • Points per game: 77.6

  • Rebounds per game: 35.6

  • More information: The Tigers had probably the toughest playoff run of the eight teams in the tournament. After a .500 season they had to knock of three teams ahead of them in the standings to win the AUS championship, including the first place University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. Dalhousie will rely on forward Kashrell Lawrence, a Brampton, Ont. native, who had 31 points and 17 rebounds in the team's championship win over the St. Mary's Huskies.
  • Photo: Trevor MacMillan

Bishop's Gaiters

  • Regular season record: 8-8

  • Result in the playoffs: RESQ champion

  • Last CIS appearance: 1999 (6th place)

  • Points per game: 69.1

  • Rebounds per game: 41.9

  • More information: The Gaiters' won the program's first RESQ title since 1999 by beating the two-time defending champion McGill Redmen 68-63. Bishop's had lost to McGill in both of the past two finals before beating them this year. The team is led by fifth-year guard Kyle Desmarais who finished second in the league in total points (231) and points per game (14.4). Fifth-year centre Mike Andrews also cracked the top 10 in both offensive categories. Majid Naji leads the way on defence, finishing second in the league in total rebounds (118) and rebounds per game (7.9). Bishop's is also the last Quebec-based school to win the national title, winning it in 1998.
  • Photo: Blair Shier

Ryerson Rams

  • Regular season record: 17-2

  • Result in the playoffs: OUA fourth place

  • Last CIS appearance: 2012 (6th place)

  • Points per game: 89.3

  • Rebounds per game: 42.9

  • More information: As the host team, Ryerson was guaranteed a spot in the final eight, but performed admirably throughout the regular season, ending with a 17-2 record. The Rams, ranked seventh as they enter the tournament, are coming off tough losses in the OUA finals to both Ottawa and Carleton, the two top-ranked teams in the country during the regular season. With a first round matchup against the second ranked Windsor, Ryerson has a solid chance at advancing. In November, Ryerson beat Windsor by 20 points, and with a solid core of Jahmal Jones, Aaron Best, Adika Peter-McNeilly and a strong supporting cast, the Rams are well-stocked for a deep run. With home court advantage (they haven't lost at home all season) accounted for, the Rams run is far from over, despite a humbling exit from the OUA tournament at the hands of the Gee-Gees.
  • Photo: Joshua Beneteau

Saskatchewan Huskies

  • Regular season record: 15-5

  • Result in the playoffs: CWUAA silver medal

  • Last CIS appearance: 2014 (5th place)

  • Points per game: 83.3

  • Rebounds per game: 40.2

  • More information: For the second year a row, the Huskies enter the CIS final eight as the bottom seed, partially because the rules require all four league champions be seeded in the top six. Saskatchewan lost 94-73 to Ottawa in the first round last year but won the consolation round of the tournament, beating the McGill Redmen 75-59. The Huskies lost to Victoria by three points in the CUWAA final on March 7 and will have to somehow get by the Carleton Ravens in the first round to contend in this tournament. Dadrian Collins, who spent three years in the NCAA before moving to Saskatoon in 2013, will need to be a star. The fifth-year forward was fourth in the CWUAA in three-point shooting and the only Huskies player to crack the top 20 in points per game.
  • Photo: Josh Schaefer