Fresh from taking the Canada West conference crown, the Vikes men’s basketball team begins its quest for a national title on Friday.
The University of Victoria hoopsters tip off their U Sport Men’s Final 8 tournament against the seven-seed Carleton Ravens in Edmonton.
Even though the Vikes are ranked second, the 15-1 Ravens present a tough test right off the hop. The Carleton men’s basketball program has been the top seed in three of the last four national tournaments and has been the Canadian champ 15 times in the last two decades.
The Ravens also ended the Vikes’ tournament in their most recent visit to the Final 8, back in 2015. But the B.C. team is coming off a 20-1 season which yielded its first Canada West title in seven years.
The Vikes will be leaning on top scorers Diego Maffia and Scott Kellum, who averaged 17.2 and 16.2 points per game, respectively. They’ll also depend on Dominick Oliveri off the boards, as the 6’7” picked up just shy of 10 rebounds a game – and six double-doubles – this season. Canada West Rookie of the Year Elias Ralph will also play a big role for Vikes.
Victoria putting up an average of 92.3 points per game was good enough for second-best in the nation, with Carleton placing fourth in that regard.
The Ravens counter on offense with Ontario University Athletics East MVP Lloyd Pandi and star guard Alain Louis. Biniam Ghebrekidan will look to own the paint after he averaged 6.6 rebounds and 12.5 points per game.
Tip-off for the quarterfinal matchup is at 7 p.m. Pacific time (8 p.m. local time) on April 1 and the game can be viewed on CBC Sports.
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