Another big thanks to Tom Via (@tomviathoughts) for this week’s Power Rankings. Per usual, my comments will be in blue.
This was the week for momentum, and boy some teams took advantage of their opportunities and then there were some that just fell flat. Have some changes based on how the teams have played in their OVC games and I tried not to let the Bracketbusters games influence my decision but for a select few, it did break a tie. Here we go with the power rankings:
1) Murray State 26-1 (13-1) Prev:1
This spot it officially locked up, no matter what!! Racer fans have been waiting for someone to step up, since Canaan only scoring was cause for concern against Tenn St. Well this week we were invited to the Poole Party, as Donte Poole shot 7-11 from beyond the arc this week. Coming into this week Coach Prohm was quoted as saying “He’s due” and Donte delivered. Their bracketbuster game showed that they can compete with longer teams and could come in handy against Tennessee State Thursday.
Baring a complete collapse, the Racers will make the NCAA tournament. (And I’m not arguing with what I said Saturday. A “lock” means no matter what. They’re not there yet) They’ll be focused for Thursday’s game against the only team to beat them, Tennessee State. But will they have that same focus on Saturday against Tennessee Tech?
2) Tennessee State 18-10 (11-4) Prev:2
Well I can say that this spot is locked up as well. This past week they had a scare against a very good Jacksonville State team but once again it was Robert Covington hitting a 3 to force OT. Once in the extra time, Tennessee State seemed to thrive. This week they host Murray State and in which will be possibly the 2nd of 3 meetings, with the 3rd being the most important and in Tennessee State home of Nashville. But this week can TSU disrupt the Racers like they did a few weeks ago or will Murray get revenge.
The Tigers turned the ball over just 9 times in their Bracketbusters win against Miami (OH). They’ve locked up the 2 seed in Nashville, so much like the Racers, how motivated will they be this week, even with hosting the resurgent Racers.
3) Southeast Missouri State 14-13 (9-5) Prev:3
From fighting for the double bye to losing 2 straight things haven’t looked good for the Redhawks but they still have enough time to recover with 2 games this week. However the teams they will be facing will be fighting as they themselves are fighting for seeding (Jax St. and AP). That being said they still have the best bigs in the league, when they are on the floor. So don’t hit the panic meter just yet. Oh and by the way, please think before making signs and bringing stuff for a huge game. Sad that police had to take away whistles, and profane signs for a sellout.
Do they have the best bigs in the league? They have that reputation, but it seems like forever since we saw them take over a game. This fall was somewhat expected over the past few games. This is a team capable of good wins, just not an “elite” OVC team.
4) Tennessee Tech 18-11 (9-6) Prev:5
This is the team that benefited from their Bracketbuster game, in terms of ranking for this week. They have only one game left on their schedule and it could be huge based on how the 5th team does this week. They host Murray State, at home and on senior night. The Racers will be playing their 4th straight senior night by the time they arrive, and based on the past 2 they don’t seemed rattled. If Murphy, Dillard and Swansey get going, they could be celebrating even more on that night.
Tech needs a top-4 seed. But if they lose to Murray on Saturday, they’ll fall to 9-7 in league play. Morehead has a semi-friendly schedule hosting Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville to finish out the season. 2 wins, and a Tech loss, and Morehead will jump Tech. Tech did win their only matchup against SEMO, so could still pass them if SEMO loses both of their final two. If it comes down to a tie between Morehead and Tech, the two schools split the season series. The tiebreaker (assuming as I did in the first sentence that Tech loses to Murray) would go to Morehead. So TTU really, really needs to beat the Racers.
As for a possible 3-way tie between SEMO, Morehead, and Tech. Morehead is 1-2 against the possible tied teams, Tech is 2-1, and SEMO is 1-1. The way I understand the tiebreaker rules (which is weird with uneven schedules) is that Tech would win the tiebreaker and be the 3, SEMO the 4, and Morehead the 5 seed.
5) Morehead State 15-14 (8-6) Prev:4
Beating a slumping team in Peay really didn’t help you and then losing Bracketbuster game to Bowling Green(who shot great) makes you by default drop just one spot. However they have the easier schedule this week with EIU (don’t sleep on them) and SIUe (spoiler again?) so they should be looking good for that last bye.
Personally, I probably wouldn’t have dropped Morehead State, as Bowling Green is a talented team. I do agree, though, that EIU and SIUE probably aren’t as easy as their record would have them appear, although in Edwardsville’s case, especially, they just haven’t played very well away from home.
6) Jacksonville State 12-17 (6-8) Prev:6
Jacksonville State went toe to toe with Tennessee State but came up just short in what would have been a huge win for the program. They finish the season with SEMO and UTM which if they play like they did against Tenn St and finish could be a deadly 6 seed against the 7 (whoever that turns out to be) This team remains my first day team that could make it to the finals.
This is the best record the Gamecocks have had in James Green’s tenure. Their win over the Blue Hose in Bracketbusters really shows how far this team has come. I’ve been saying it for weeks now…Jacksonville State will not be an easy out in Nashville.
7) Eastern Kentucky 15-14 (6-8) Prev: 7
This team continues to puzzle me, much like the rest of the teams from here on out do for many people. They lose fall to Tennessee Tech and someone creates the hashtag on twitter #FIRENeubauer. Personally I don’t have enough information to make a comment on that, but based on the team play, they haven’t quit (cough cough) and will more than likely make the tourney, even though its day 1.
I disagree. There’s no puzzle here. This team has one reliable player. Note, I said reliable. Not great. You can’t win games like that. As for Neubauer, I need to see the contract information. If they can get rid of him without a monetary loss, they will. If not, they haven’t been that bad. They weren’t picked highly, so it’s not like this is an amazingly disappointing season. Now if they fall out of the OVC tournament, my tune may change greatly. As will the fans, I’m sure. EKU gets SIUE and EIU at home this week, just like Morehead State. That EIU game could be big, especially if the Cougars get the best of the Colonels.
8 ) Eastern Illinois 12-15 (5-9) Prev:10
The winning streak continues, and the chance for making Nashville is still a possibility. They need to beat EKU and Morehead and then need Peay to lose all theirs. Based on what I’ve seen this past week, it could actually happen. Don’t quit guys and hope to see ya in Nashville, which im sure the 5 seed would like to see.
I disagree. If the Panthers make the tournament, they’ll enter it as one of the hottest teams. (Seriously) That’s not at all who I want to face. Put their past struggles behind them if they keep winning. That being said…they’re just one game back of 3 teams now. They play EKU in the final game of the season. Let’s talk some tiebreakers, keeping in mind that a 3-way tie breaker changes things.
Eastern Illinois is 0-1 against Austin Peay, meaning they lose that tiebreaker automatically. They are also 0-1 against Jacksonville State. Meaning if either of those teams win one game this week, they’re a lock for the tournament. They’re also 0-1 against EKU, but face them in the final game. If EIU wins out, regardless of what EKU does against SIU Edwardsville, they’ll at least earn a tie. If that happens…EKU would win the tie based on their win early in the season against Tennessee State.
So after that explanation, the short version: EIU must win out, and either AP, EKU, or JSU must lose out for the Panthers to earn the 8-seed in Nashville.
3-way scenarios can get very complicated at this point with 4 teams possibly involved, so I’m not going to do that math just yet. We’ll look at that in another post.
9) SIU Edwardsville 8-16 (5-9) Prev:9
Lost to a very hot team in EIU but did win a bracketbuster game against Northern Illinois. Just look at the conference record and tell me you don’t wish they were available for the tourney in Nashville. Can play spoiler for Morehead this week.
All in all, this has been a successful season for the Cougars. They’ve proven they can play with the conference. Next season, they could be playing for a tournament spot.
10) Austin Peay 10-18 (6-8) Prev:8
Here is the team that has quit. I’m interested to see how their win in their Bracketbuster translates back to conference play, as they play UTM this week. With that win, they clinch a spot in the tourney. Should be easy right against a team with a 0 in their conference win column right? Well if you think of it that way, the players may overlook them and lose.
As mentioned in EIU’s tiebreaker comments above, Austin Peay needs just one win this week to lock up a tournament spot. Just 1. But will it even matter if they make it in. Surprises can happen in March, but you have to question if this team has a win left in them this year.
11) UT Martin 4-25 (0-14) Prev:11
They did win a game this week, even though it was against a team even worse than them, in OT. But it could be momentum as they look for that 1 conference win. This week they play a slumping Austin Peay, and then Jax St. They could spoil huge this week and I will celebrate on twitter, like I did during the Kennesaw St game, if they win.
This team doesn’t want to finish 0-16 in conference. They’ll give both teams this week, including the aforementioned Austin Peay squad everything they have. Will it be enough? That’s yet to be seen.