The final weekend of 2012 was none too kind to the conference, and now the thought of the OVC being a two-bid conference is officially a pipe dream, at least for this season.
But that doesn’t mean the conference isn’t still heading in the right direction. More so, that the conference has taken a small step this year, instead of the giant leap that looked possible just a few weeks ago.
This week, attention turns to conference play in full, and for a few teams, a reprieve from the challenging schedules they’ve played thus far.
Now, wins and losses really matter, with just 8 OVC Tournament spots on the line for 11 eligible teams.
Southern Mississippi 94, Morehead State 58
SIU Edwardsville 41, St Louis 68
Belmont 64, Boston University 48
Valparaiso 66, Murray State 64
Tennessee Tech 62, Jacksonville State 83
Eastern Illinois 59, Tennessee State 67
Austin Peay 74, High Point 76
Belmont 63, Central Florida 66
Eastern Kentucky 67, West Virginia 74
Three Point Shot
- The Colonels loss at West Virginia might be their most impressive game of the season, despite losing. West Virginia is a solid power conference team, (better than say, Auburn) and the Colonels were able to stay in the game thanks to 11 three-pointers while holding the Mountaineers to just 2-12 from behind the arc. If West Virginia didn’t go 32-39 from the free throw line, it might have been a much different result in Morgantown.
- Terence Smith didn’t have a great game in his return to the Skyhawks, but how about UT Martin’s frontcourt. Going up against a great Southeast Missouri frontcourt Jeremy Washington finished with a double-double, and Tobias Dowdell finishes just one point short. The Skyhawks win the battle on the glass by five, even though Tyler Stone pulled down a game high 14-rebounds. Despite all that, this game would have been much less interesting if SEMO hits better than 50% from the free throw line.
- Murray State and Belmont losses make me wonder if this will be a two-horse race in the OVC after all. Jacksonville State can still win a regular season title, and Eastern Kentucky is going to be a challenge. Does one, or both, upstage the Bruins and Racers? Murray has the benefit of a weaker West Division on their side, but Belmont will face both of those teams twice.
Player of the Weekend: Patrick Miller, Tennessee State. With Robert Covington out for 4-6 weeks, someone will need to step up for the Tigers, and Miller did so this weekend, putting up 28 points on just 8 field goal attempts, as Tennessee State survived the best game the Panthers have played all year.
Player of the Weekend in two losses: Anthony Campbell, Austin Peay. Back-to-back 22 and 23 point efforts for the senior, who really seems like he’s finding his game this season. The Governors also seemed to solve their turnover issues, at least temporarily, turning over the ball a total of 18 times in two games. As a reminder, they had back-to-back 27 turnover games earlier this season.
Unsung Hero: Mark Yelovich, SIU Edwardsville. The senior is finally getting back on his feet, playing 16 minutes in the Cougars blowout loss to St. Louis. He didn’t do anything spectacular, but it’s just good to see him getting some minutes, and SIUE needs him healthy to make a run in the OVC.
Team Trending Upwards: UT Martin. They had a chance to win at SEMO, and clearly aren’t the same team that went 0-16 in the OVC a year ago. Tough game tonight at Jacksonville State and Thursday hosting Murray State could by the Skyhawks at 0-3, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a run and make the OVC Tournament this season.
Teams Trending Downward: Murray State and Belmont. Their NCAA Tournament seed, assuming one of the two make it, just took a hit this weekend, and neither look like they’re going to run the table in the OVC, or possibly even get close to doing so. I’d say they’re still the favorites to win their divisions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they take two or three losses in doing so.