Last year, there was just one Saturday with 10 OVC teams in action. This Saturday is the second straight this season, with everyone except Belmont and Jacksonville State on the floor.
So let’s get right to the previews. Here’s the First Word:
Austin Peay (4-4) at Memphis (5-2)
Players to Watch
F Anthony Campbell (12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
F Chris Freeman(7.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
G Joe Jackson (10.4 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg)
G Chris Crawford (9.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.7 apg)
The Matchup: Memphis has won three straight, after a disappointing 2-2 start to the season. Memphis has played a mid-major gauntlet of sorts, playing VCU, Northern Iowa, and Ohio already this season, beating all but the Rams. Memphis other loss was to ranked Minnesota.
Austin Peay is coming off a win against Division II Oakland City, but is struggling to find their rhythm this year with so many new players in the lineup. The Governors have alternated wins in losses over the last six games.
The Governors have the edge: from deep. Austin Peay is shooting 37% from 3-point range this season led by Betran and freshman Corey Arentsen. Memphis’ defense has been friendly to three-point shooting teams this season, unlike Austin Peay’s defense, which is holding opponents to 29% from behind the arc this season.
Another area could be the free throw line. Memphis is a great free throw shooting team, but Austin Peay has been very good this year at defending without fouling. If the Governors keep Memphis off the line, and can draw some fouls, they might be able to keep the game tight.
The Tigers have the edge: about everywhere else. Memphis doesn’t turn over the ball, forces turnovers, (both of which have been troublesome for the Governors this year) have great rebounders, and can score. Memphis has played a lot of really good mid-major programs, (and UT Martin) and likely won’t overlook Austin Peay.
Memphis has six players, at least, that can score, and they’re extremely balanced on offense as a result. Memphis isn’t a big team, but they use their length well.
The game hinges on: turnovers. This game can get a way from Austin Peay in a hurry if they can’t hold on to the basketball. It still could get away from Austin Peay if they don’t, but they can’t lose the turnover battle and expect to win.
Indiana State (4-2) at Morehead State (4-5)
2:00 p.m. EST
Players to Watch
F Manny Atop (9.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
The Matchup: It’s a Bracketbusters return game in Morehead, with Indiana State seeking revenge for last year’s loss. The Sycamores are off to a 4-2 start, with losses to New Mexico and UCLA, but they haven’t beaten a team in the top-200 of the RPI. Morehead State is ranked 207th.
After a strong start, Morehead State has hit a speed bump, losers of three straight. The Eagles are coming off their worst shooting performance of the season, shooting just 31% from the floor in a loss to North Dakota State at home.
The Sycamores have the edge: if they can control the pace. Indiana State’s defense is solid in the half court, holding opponents to under 40% shooting from the field. The Sycamores don’t turn over the ball, and have a solid inside game. They’re not going to want to get into a up and down game like Morehead State.
The Eagles have the edge: if they foul. It’s been a sore point for the Eagles all season: putting teams on the line. But Indiana State is just 65% from the line this season, and it could actually work in Morehead State’s advantage this time. Of course, the Eagles have similar problems shooting free throws, hitting just 62% on the season.
Morehead State has been able to dictate their style often lately, forcing turnovers against the stingiest of offenses, but they turn over the ball almost just as often, pretty much cancelling themselves out. Indiana State doesn’t force many turnovers, which should work in Morehead State’s advantage.
The game hinges on: defense in the paint. Neither team shoots the three well, (and both defend the arc well) meaning the game is likely to be won inside, to which the advantage goes to the Sycamores. Morehead State can use their guards to drive, and will need to make the most of their turnovers to pull out a tough win at home.
Central Arkansas (3-3) at Southeast Missouri (6-5)
5:30 p.m. CST
Players to Watch
F Jarvis Garner (13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
F Jordan Harks (12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
F Nino Johnson (11.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg 2nd in OVC)
G Corey Wilford (14.3 ppg, 2.2 apg, 3.4 rpg)
The Matchup: It’s the third straight games against Ohio Valley Conference opponents for Central Arkansas, with the Bears coming off close wins at Eastern Illinois and at home against UT Martin. Those are the only Division I wins of the season for Central Arkansas.
The Redhawks lost to Missouri this week, after holding a 10-point halftime lead. The loss snapped a 3-game winning streak for the Redhawks. In an odd pattern, following a opening loss to Kansas, SEMO has alternated 3-game winning and losing streaks.
These teams last matched up 367 days ago, with Central Arkansas running away with a win
The Bears have the edge: in a shootout. Central Arkansas is average almost 79 points a game, and is shooting 47% from the field, 42% from the behind the arc on the season. The Bears aren’t sound defensively, and have allowed every Division I opponent to score at least 70 points. Given how few turnovers the Redhawks force, Central Arkansas could have an edge in a high possession game.
The Redhawks have the edge: in the paint, where they almost always have the edge. With two of the top three rebounders in conference, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. SEMO is also much better on defense as a result, allowing opposing teams to shoot 36% from the field on the season.
The game hinges on: guard play. UCA is twelfth in the nation in three-point shooting, SEMO sixth in the nation in three-point defense. On the flip side, SEMO is shooting 39% from behind the arc, and the Bears allowing just 30%. Something’s got to give.