The Niagara Knights men's basketball program (12-4, 3rd OCAA West) will play two games this weekend as they travel to face the Humbar Hawks (16-0, 1st OCAA West) on Thursday night (8pm) and the University of Toronto Mississauga Eagles (4-14, 9th OCAA West) on Saturday (3pm). With just four games remaining on the season and a two game lead over the Redeemer Royals in the standings, the Knights can clinch home court advantage for the OCAA qualifying playoff game if they win both games this weekend. The OCAA's top four teams in both the East and West Divisions host a qualifying game against the teams who finish 5-8 in each division. The eight winning teams of the qualifying games will travel to Georgian College to take part in the OCAA Championship taking place February 28th-March 2nd.
The Knights are coming off of a 95-75 win against the Lambton Lions and have since leaped into the CCAA National Rankings. In the CCAA's latest rankings released February 5th, the Knights were named the 12th ranked program across the country. The Humber Hawks, the Knights first opponent of the weekend, are ranked second.
Looking back to their last matchups with their upcoming opponnents, the Humber Hawks played spoilers on the Knights' Blue and White game on November 1st, taking down the Knights 94-81. When the Eagles travelled to Welland one week later on November 8th, the Knights sent them back home with a loss, taking the game 89-64.
The Knights and the Hawks will be a battle of two of the OCAA's top offences as the Hawks currently rank second averaging 101.6 points per game while the Knights trail right behind them with 98.9 points per game. Both teams matchup almost identically on the glass as well as the Knights currently lead the league with 50.9 rebounds per game while the Hawks rank third with 50.0.
Looking at the UTM Eagles, they currently rank right around the league average in both points per game (82.7) and rebounds per game (42.1).
This weekend will feature a couple of explosive scorers as the Eagles' Gregory Roberts currently leads the OCAA with 27.8 points per game while Niagara's Van Hutchinson Jr. (Bahamas) ranks fourth with 24.7 points. Hutchinson Jr is still keeping pace with his incredible season as he also sits in second in the OCAA in rebounds per game (12.9) and first in assists per game (7.1).
Rahim Bardi (St. Catharines) will look to build off of his best game of the season after he scored a career-high 24 points in 26 minutes against Lambton last Sunday. He shot 10-15 from the field and 4-5 from the free-throw line.
The Knights all-time record against the Humber Hawks is 13-36 while they are 3-0 against the Eagles who are playing their second season in the OCAA.