The Carleton Ravens play north of College Basketball Talk‘s normal coverage area, but the Canadian basketball powerhouse is worth talking about. Simply put, Carleton is making a John Wooden-at-UCLA type of run right now in the CIS.
The Ravens have won four consecutive CIS titles and have been champions for 10 of the last 12 seasons. They’re an astounding 292-14 since the year 2000.
Carleton might be beating up on overmatched competition in the CIS, but they’re better than a lot of Division I basketball programs. Want proof? Last summer, Carleton beat eventual Final Four team Wisconsin and led former 2013-14 No. 1 team Syracuse by 15 in the second half before losing in overtime.
Carleton also had a respectable road loss to NCAA Tournament team Cincinnati in exhibition play last fall and the Ravens also beat TCU and Towson at home last summer. Going 3-2 against that kind of Division I schedule as a Canadian team is no joke. These guys can really play.
So that brings us to this summer. Carleton is once again hosting four Division I schools for exhibition matchups in August. Every four years, the NCAA allows Division I basketball programs to take a foreign trip for exhibition games and using that trip to play a team as good as Carleton will only help gauge how a team might look for the 2014-15 season.
The Ravens will begin their home exhibition schedule with a game against Indiana on August 11th. Carleton then hosts Vermont on August 12th and UIC on August 14th.
Memphis comes in for two games against Carleton on August 16th and August 19th and it seems like Tigers head coach Josh Pastner has a lot of respect for the Ravens and their basketball program.
In a release from Memphis about their Canadian exhibition tour Pastner commented on the strong competition the Tigers will face. Memphis will also face McGill University and the University of Ottawa on the trip.
“The most important thing about putting this trip together was finding great competition, and this tour has it,” Pastner said in the release. “The teams we’ll see on the tour took Louisville, Syracuse and Wisconsin down to the wire last summer, and the Cardinals, Orange and Badgers were three of the best teams in college basketball this past season. We’ll face teams that run really good stuff, and if we don’t play well, we can get beat. But, it will be good for us to face that level of competition this summer.”
As you can see, Pastner really respects Carleton and I’m sure the coaching staffs at Indiana, UIC and Vermont feel the same way about going to Canada to face the four-time defending champs.
Of all of the foreign exhibition games that happen this summer, these contests at Carleton will probably be some of the best games played. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens come out with a winning record in the five games against Division I compeition.