The 2017-18 OCAA men's basketball regular season has reached its unofficial halfway mark.
Here's a look at what transpired so far, and what to watch for in the new year.
STATE OF THE CHAMPIONS
After an undefeated 2016-17 regular season, the Sheridan Bruins looked to be producing a carbon copy until they ran into a Redeemer Royals juggernaut their final game of the first half.
Sheridan lost at Redeemer 96-78 on Dec. 1, ending a 27-game win streak against OCAA opponents (regular and post-season). The Bruins last loss in an OCAA-sanctioned event was the 2015 bronze medal game.
Still, with an 8-1 record, let's not pity the Bruins too much. They still has a share of first place in the West Division with the Royals, with an all-important rematch scheduled for Feb. 3 at Sheridan.
With Sheridan's most-recent loss, the Seneca Sting are the only undefeated team remaining in the OCAA, winners of 10 straight.
Seneca leads the East Division by one game over George Brown. The Sting defeated the reigning silver medalists 93-82 on Nov. 17; otherwise it would be the undefeated Huskies earning praise.
A rematch between these teams takes place on Jan. 23 at Seneca. Although it will be too early to crown a champion at this time, the outcome will go a long way in determining first place at the end of the season.
STATE OF THE HOST
The Niagara Knights have the least amount of pressure among OCAA teams in the new year, having already secured a spot in the belairdirect OCAA Men's Basketball Championship as tournament host.
The Knights are among the leaders in the West Division with a record of 7-3, trailing first place Sheridan and Redeemer by two in the loss column.
Niagara is strong on its home court with a 4-1 record. The Knights advanced to the OCAA bronze medal game last season.
The most improved team from last season, based on winning percentage, is the Lambton Lions. At 6-4, Lambton is in the thick of a playoff race, in fifth place in a competitive West Division.
The Lions have already doubled their win total from 2016-17, going just 3-13. Two of those victories came against a winless Sault Cougars.
Lambton is just two seasons removed from an OCAA bronze medal, hoping that last year was just a minor speed bump for the program.
JUST THE STATS
First-year forward Zamam Khan (Ottawa) of the UTM Eagles leads all OCAA players averaging 25.8 points per game. Another newcomer, Fleming first-year point guard Lavar Williams (Mississauga) is the OCAA steals leader with 32.
Fifth-year guard Branden Padgett (Detroit, Mich.) of Lambton leads all OCAA players with 247 points. Fourth-year forward Adrian Achonwa (Guelph) of Mohawk is the OCAA leader in rebounds with 123.
Third-year guard Yusuf Ali (Toronto) of Seneca leads all OCAA players with 75 assists. Second-year teammate Khalil Miller (Scarborough) is the OCAA blocks leader with 37.
NEW POST-SEASON FORMAT
The OCAA is offering more post-season play in 2017-18, with the top seven teams in each division (not including the championship host) advancing to the crossover round.
Match-ups will be based on seeding, with the top seeds in each of the divisions squaring off against the bottom seeds in the opposite division. The second-best teams will take on the second-worst, and so on. The higher seed will host.
Here is a look at potential crossover match-ups:
St. Clair (3-6) at Seneca (10-0)
St. Lawrence-K (4-6) at Sheridan (8-1)
Mohawk (6-5) at George Brown (9-1)
Loyalist (4-6) at Redeemer (8-1)
Lambton (6-4) at Durham (7-3)
Georgian (6-4) at Humber (8-3)
Fanshawe (6-5) at Centennial (7-3)
Championship Bye: Niagara (7-3)
CURRENT PROVINCIAL RANKINGS
1. Redeemer Royals (7th CCAA)
2. Seneca Sting (9th CCAA)
3. Sheridan Bruins (4th CCAA)
4. George Brown Huskies (12th CCAA)
5. Humber Hawks (14th CCAA)
6. Niagara Knights
7. Durham Lords
8. Fanshawe Falcons
9. Centennial Colts
10. Lambton Lions
- OCAA -
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