I love snow.
If you’re wondering why I’m saying that, it’s because here in Paducah, it’s snowing this morning. It’s likely snowing in Murray as well today, which could affect attendance as the Racers go for a school record 17th straight win to start the season.
Something tells me that’s not going to affect the team much…
Here’s today’s First Word:
[Jacksonville State (6-12, 1-4) at No. 15/14 Murray State (16-0, 4-0), 7:00 p.m. CST] So there’s so many firsts that could happen in Murray tonight. Let me see how many I can list.
- Jacksonville State’s first ever game against a top 15 ranked team since moving to Division I
- If Jacksonville State wins, it will be their first win against the Racers
- If Murray State wins, it will be the best start in school history. Technically, it would be the first time they won their first 17 games, but the best start line sounds better.
An obvious one is that if Jacksonville State wins, it will be the first time the Racers have lost, but I felt that was a bit on the nose.
Ivan Aska will be out tonight again for the Racers, as well as Saturday against Tennessee Tech.
As for the matchup itself, if you’ve read my blog any at all this year, then you pretty much know what I have to say about Jacksonville State’s offense. It’s actually been a bit better of late, especially in their win against Tennessee State.
As for the Racers, remember how much I’ve raved about their ability to force turnovers. Despite still being 13th in the nation, the Racers are 7th in the conference when only taking OVC games in account.
[Eastern Kentucky (10-7, 4-1) at Austin Peay (3-13, 0-3), 7:00 p.m. CST]Austin Peay can’t fall to 0-4, right? Right? …right?
Tonight’s game will mark the first OVC road test for the Colonels, who have only traveled to play a Jacksonville State team that was missing 3 players when they met.
While I think the Colonels win against SEMO last weekend was a good win, let’s remember that SEMO haven’t been road warriors in the slightest, and the Colonels under Jeff Neubauer have been historically strong at home. A win tonight at Austin Peay would put the Colonels in the driver’s seat for the double-bye, and establish themselves as a true team to beat in the OVC.
On the flip side, Austin Peay may be the best 3-13 team in the country. I say that not having seen any other 3-13 teams, but simply because I saw a Governors team on Saturday night that’s talented enough to knock off a Racers squad that was mostly on top of their game. But they can’t take any more OVC losses at this point.
These two teams met just 2 weeks ago, with the Colonels eeking out a 2-point win.
[UT Martin (3-15, 0-5) at Eastern Illinois (8-6, 1-1), 7:00 p.m CST] So for those people that have criticized Eastern Illinois easy schedule remember, they didn’t schedule this matchup, the OVC did.
All joking aside, Jason James once told me that he felt his team played better away from home than in Martin, and being that their only Division I win this season came on the road, maybe he’s on to something. At this point, they need any kind of spark they can get, and if that’s a win on the road, then so be it.
For Eastern Illinois, Zavier Sanders has had 2 solid games back-to-back, averaging 10.5 rebounds. Although Sanders isn’t a reliable scorer by any stretch of the imagination, he’s 2nd on the teams in rebounds. If he can be a good compliment in the front court for Alfonzo McKinnie, it could give the Panthers a much needed lift as conference play continues.
[SIU Edwardsville (5-8, 3-1) at SEMO (8-8, 3-1), 7:00 p.m. CST] Who would have thought this game would be the most intriguing matchup of the day when the schedules were released earlier this season?
I never thought it was possible but the Redhawks have actually been worse at forcing turnovers since conference play began than they were in non-conference play, which is hard when you’re 340th out of 345 teams in the nation. But the defense as a whole as been much improved, as most of the teams in the conference simply don’t have the ability to matchup with SEMO’s frontcourt.
No other fans in the conference are probably more excited about their team outside of Murray than the fans in Edwardsville, as the Cougars have surprised everyone with their 3-1 start. They’re still shooting the 3-point shot at 48% in conference play, a number I just can’t see them sustaining through the 16 game OVC slate, but to go from an offense I once described as inept to one that’s this threatening is a remarkable turnaround.