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So I’ve made it to the end of the (ridiculously) Early 2011-12 Previews, but there’s still one thing left to do: put the teams in order.

The OVC has always been a top-heavy league, with a great disparity between the haves and have-nots, and I doubt that will change this year. In the end, I think the teams fit into 3 tiers: the contenders, the troublemakers, and the scroungers.

Note: All comments based on team’s schedule are based on a preliminary conference schedule. The OVC has yet to officially release the schedule for 2011-12. It is subject to change.

Scroungers

#11 – SIU Edwardsville : The Cougars are an obvious pick for last simply because they are bringing back a team that went 0-8 against the OVC last year. We haven’t seen a reason to put them above 11, yet. But I’ll stop short of saying SIUe will be rolled over next season. Due to the unbalanced schedule, they only play Murray, Tenn. State, and AP once. The schedule doesn’t break any easier. There is experience coming back for SIUe, and the bottom of the conference isn’t that strong. They won’t go winless, but I don’t think they’ll be playing spoiler come February either. Sorry, Cougars. Someone has to be ranked 11th.

Win Range – 1 to 3

#10 – Jacksonville State: This team falls to the bottom for one reason: the loss of Nick Murphy. I see no replacement on the roster, and with him they only managed 3 conference wins. They’re rebuilding, and could make a tournament run in 2012-13, but I don’t see much out of the OVC representative from Alabama again this season. The good news: the Gamecocks only face Murray and AP once.

Win Range – 2 to 4

#9 – Eastern Kentucky: This year, no OVC coaches were really “at risk” of being fired. I doubt the same will be said next March. The schedule isn’t favorable to the Colonels, 3 of their top 4 scorers graduated, and Jeff Neubauer’s offense is becoming less effective by the season. It’s not a good recipe. There’s no clear ball handler, and the front court is full of questions with no answers.

Win Range – 2 to 4 

Troublemakers

#8 – Eastern Illinois: Jeremy Granger is the key to the Panthers season. After the injury to Tyler Laser last year, Panthers fans are holding their breath the same doesn’t happen this year to Granger. If someone else steps up beside Granger, this team could be more dangerous. If not, they’ll be scraping for enough wins to make the OVC tournament.

Win Range – 5 to 7

# 7 – Morehead State: Harper and Faried were the Eagles last season. Who will lead Morehead State this year? Ummm…I’ll get back to you on that one. The Eagles have one of the top recruiting classes coming in this season, and that should help keep them away from the bottom of the heap. Expect big upsets, and big let downs from a young team trying to find their way.

Win Range – 6 to 8

#6 – UT Martin: The Skyhawks did not win the schedule pool. They only face SIUe, Morehead, and EKU once, three of the weaker teams in the conference. Only one senior graduates, and the Skyhawks have a starting 5 that should stack up well against the best in the conference. Unless they plan on playing 40 minutes a game, the bench could the Skyhawks undoing.

Win Range – 8 to 10

#5 Austin Peay: Yes, you’re reading this right. I don’t see the Governors as a contender for the title. Their primary ball handler is graduating, and the most likely replacement is transferring. We know Edmondson should emerge as a leader, and the development of Josh Frailey could determine how far the Governors go next season.

Win Range – 9 to 11

#4 SEMO: Baring injury, Leon Powell should be the most dominant big man in the conference. Lucas Nutt had a standout freshman year and should even better this year. And Missouri transfer Tyler Stone becomes eligible this year. Add it up: this is a team that’s almost ready to compete. Why only almost? They’re still young, and they’ve got to find a way to score more points next season.

Win Range – 9 to 11

Contenders

#3 Murray State: I think the Racers might want to hold off any thought of a 3-peat. Despite Kennedy’s move to the Lonestar State, expect to see a team that plays similar to the past few years. There’s just not as much talent, especially in the backcourt, to keep the Racers at the top of the heap. They’ll prove tough, and maybe even more consistent. But it’s going to be an uphill battle for new head coach Steve Prohm to immediately match Kennedy’s recent success.

Win Range – 11 to 13

#2 Tennessee State: Everyone is back from a team that was the leading the OVC at the halfway point last season. Inexperience was their unraveling, but in case you skipped over the first sentence, everyone is back. Their schedule doesn’t do them any favors, as they face Murray, TTU, AP, and UTM twice. It’s a gauntlet, to be sure, but the Tigers could finally have that breakout season.

Win Range – 11 to 13

#1 Tennessee Tech: They made the run in March, and they’re going to be back with a vengeance. Much like the Racers, the coaching change is much of non-issue: Steve Payne has led the team before. Their backcourt is outstanding. Their offense will likely lead the league. This is a great team. The Golden Eagles have an easier schedule than Murray and TSU, which could work to their benefit. Anything below OVC Champions is a disappointing season for TTU in my view.

Win Range – 13 to 15

Disagree? Let me know about it in the comments below, or just send a tweet to @OVCBall


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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11


2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall

EAST

Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19

WEST

UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24


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