The eighth annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic is set to tip off on Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. The 2014 Classic will be the third straight edition to feature at least three nationally-ranked teams in the Ottawa-Carleton double-header feature, and this year includes the top two men’s teams in the nation. The women’s game tips off at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m.
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This year brings a twist however, as the rivals have already met this season and Capital Hoops becomes a rematch game with everything on the line. Although Carleton came out on top in both the men’s and women’s contests on November 29 the games were tight and thoroughly entertaining, and first place is still up for grabs.
On the men’s side, fans at Canadian Tire Centre will see no. 1 ranked Carleton take on the no. 2 ranked Gee-Gees. Both teams have been perfect in the four games since they last met, and are by far the two highest-scoring teams in the country. Carleton averages 95.5 points per game while Ottawa is right behind at 94.5, seven points ahead of the next highest team.
Those offensive numbers have been helped along by two of the nation’s top ten individual scorers. Ottawa’s Johnny Berhanemeskel is fourth in the CIS with a points per game average of 23.4 and Carleton’s Phil Scrubb ranks seventh at 20.1 per game. Both athletes are capable of having big games against quality opponents, evidenced by Berhanemeskel’s 38 point performance in November against no. 6 ranked McMaster. That came the night after the same Marauders had been burned for 44 points by Scrubb – just one example of the way the two squads have jockeyed for supremacy throughout the regular season.
This marks the second time that the teams have gone into the Classic ranked no. 1 and no. 2 in the nation. That first happened in January of 2009, when the event set a CIS regular season attendance record with 10,523 fans on hand.
The women’s draw this year features a first-place Carleton squad that is 10-3 on the season battling to stay ahead of second place Ottawa. Three out of the last four games the women’s squads have played have been decided by five points or less and the Gee-Gees, at 9-4, would need to top the Ravens by more than the 60-55 spread they were taken down by in November in order to gain first place should there be a tie-breaking situation in the standings.
Ottawa enters the game having been ranked no. 8 in the country, while Carleton may enter the rankings for the first time on Tuesday morning. The Ravens captured last year’s Classic over a young Gee-Gees squad that now has some more experience on the big stage.
The 2014 MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will be streamed live on the web via SSN Canada and broadcast by Rogers Cable in Ottawa. The Rogers broadcast of the men’s game will be available live locally on Cable 22, while the women’s broadcast will be tape delayed to 3 p.m. on Thursday, and will air on French language TV Rogers 23. Both broadcasts will also be live nation-wide on Rogers Sports+. In Ottawa, Sports Plus can be found in HD on channel 369.