In fact, the OVC as a whole is off to a much better start in December than most of the month of November.
But keeping that momentum going is going to be a monumental challenge tonight, as all 4 OVC teams are likely underdogs,
Here’s today’s First Word:
[UT Martin (2-7) at Lipscomb (5-4) 6:30 p.m CST] Lipscomb has already played (and beat) SIU Edwardsville and Austin Peay, and now begins a 3 game tour of the OVC by hosting UT Martin tonight. The Bisons continue to be one of the most up tempo teams in the nation, which is not good news for a Skyhawks team that has struggled defending in transition and with turnovers. So far, there’s no word on Mike Liabo‘s status for tonight’s game: He missed the Skyhawks last game against Ball State after suffering a concussion versus Central Arkansas. They could use him against a team that averages 76 points a game.
[Tennessee State (3-5) at Belmont (5-2) 7:00 p.m. CST] After a rough start, Belmont appears to have gotten things back on track. The Tigers will be challenged by one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, averaging over 85 points a contest. The Tigers don’t have a top-200 RPI win, and getting one on the road tonight against the future OVC members will be a huge undertaking. 6 Bruins average at least 9 points a game, led by junior guard Kerron Johnson. The two areas on offense Belmont hasn’t been amazing in are 3-point shooting and free-throw shooting, but they’re not bad in those categories either. These teams have played each of the past 4 season, with Belmont coming out on top each time.
[North Carolina Central (5-3) at Eastern Kentucky (4-5) 7:00 p.m. CST] Colonels fans, it’s nice to have your team playing at home finally, isn’t it. This is the definition of a game of styles: NC Central wants to run, EKU wants to crawl (the pace that is). But both teams want to shoot the 3, but so far this season the Eagles have been much, much better at it. Despite averaging over 88 points a game, the Eagles aren’t the most efficient offense: their pace help drive their scoring. If EKU can force tempo (it’s easier to slow a team down, after all, than speed one up) they stand a solid chance of getting a win. If not, I don’t see it happening. Three Eagles average better than 16 points a game, so keeping the score manageable is a big challenge.
[Ball State (4-2) at SIU Edwardsville (1-5) 7:30 CST] When you’re a team struggling to score, (which the Cougars are) going up against a defense like Ball State isn’t likely to help your team out any. The Cardinals defense has been especially good against the 3, which is the one area that the Cougars offense has been solid and consistent in any way. Ball State is coming off of a dismantling of UT Martin in Martin, and has one of the best assist to turnover ratios in the nation. They’re not likely to shoot the Cougars out of their gym like they did to the Skyhawks in the 2nd half in Martin, but they’re likely to frustrate an already troubled offense.