Another week and another shuffling at the bottom for the rankings as it seems that everyone wants to be considered for the final seed in the tournament. This season the question is who will get in, not where will they finish. The bottom of the east is a 3 tie, with one of the teams down majorly in tiebreakers. With that said one of our top teams will face redemption and a chance to prove themselves in the East. So lets rank them!
They are the best team in conference, they have faced the best teams in the league and won them both almost going buzzer to buzzer once again this week. Bruins now have the back to back OVC Player of the Week in Ian Clark who once again is making a case for player of the year in the conference. However what we saw was flaws do exist and that would be turnovers. The Bruins are aggressive on offense and it shows in the turnover numbers. That being said, they limit the amount of points they allow off turnovers. They go on their first Death Valley trip this week at Morehead and Eastern Kentucky.
The Colonels gave the Bruins their biggest test this season and came very close to being the only undefeated team in the conference. They made runs when they were down, which is what you need come clutch time. For all the commentary on guard Mike DiNunno, Corey Walden has been great filling in for the injured Cosey. He is a total hustle player, the total role player that contributes in all facets of the game. In six conference games, he has only missed one free throw line and has set a new high for points in three of them. The Colonels are on a mission for redemption and as they host the Bruins on Saturday but before that they face our number three team on Thursday.
Cold shooting returned its ice face this week in the Tigers big game at Belmont, but they just like the Colonels made runs to get it close. The Tigers certainly have the athletes to compete on any given night and show it night in and night out. Tigers are susceptible to turning the ball over, which is something alot of teams do in this conference, and it cost them against the Bruins. The Tigers will have a chance to take a firm lead behind Belmont with a game on the road up in Richmond Thursday night as they too are on the Death Valley Swing concluding with Morehead State on Saturday.
Less than focused first half performances from the Racers were the standouts this week in front of their home crowd. The Racers couldn’t buy a basket, then would rack up a tab in the second half. The glaring mistake is the defense, which the players and head coach have continued to say in postgame conferences. Allowing easy layups on defensive breakdowns is ok early in the season, but its mid January and Racers are lucky that there are divisions this year. That being said the Racers were 2-0 this week and the fans will let that be that. I really do think this team could be a top team in the conference, but they have to show it and focus, something we haven’t had to say in the past. Racers go on the road to struggling Tennessee Tech then to the Gamecocks.
The Eagles go 2-0 against the west, which everyone from the east seems to do, on the road to maintain their position this week. The real test comes this week as they face two of the top three. The Eagles have lost when their big men haven’t be able to produce and that is something that will be tested against high powered offense and a defense. The Eagles do have the home crowd and head coach Sean Woods who I’m sure will have a great gameplan, but can the Eagles execute it hosting Belmont and Tennessee State.
Reason for the big move is the return of Mark Yelovich for the Cougars as he seemed as close to 100% as we have seen in quite some time. It was no fluke the first half the Cougars had in Murray, Saturday night (then again most teams seem to do that against Murray now) shooting 57% in the opening half. The second half they got on a cold spell which was caused by key role players picking up fouls. The Cougars are good, very worthy of easily making the tournament if they play like they are capable of. Coach Forrester said after the game that we could see the return of Yelovich to that starting lineup if he practices. Cougars host SEMO and UT Martin this week.
The Gamecocks are showing us truly who are good teams in the OVC and who simply aren’t as they have yet to beat a top three team this year. That being said they were close in both of their games this week, especially making a late game run against the Colonels in the final five minutes thanks to Brian Williams hitting 3 triples in that span. The Gamecocks are a good team and would easily make the tournament this year, but they can’t making it sadly a wide open race below them for the final two spots. Gamecocks host Austin Peay and Murray State this week.
Last week I harped on this but I guess it needs to be said again, foul trouble costs this team since they rely on just two front court men to do everything consistently for the Redhawks. That being said, they should be able to rebound this week but with their recent play, who knows how SEMO will do.They got excellent production in their this week against TTU with Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson scoring in double figures, Stone got a double double. All these teams (8-12) are the same but on pure talent I’m giving the Redhawks the best chance to out of them all. They go to SIUE, which will be a battle of the paint (more like which guards step up) and then go to Eastern Illinois. We will be able to reshuffle these teams after this week.
They went 0-1 and get to move up in the rankings? Well yes as you will see below I have too. But the Golden Eagles are bad, as they scored 23 points in their first half against SEMO. Jud Dillard is the player, the everything for this team and scored 16 points and will continue to put up numbers that look good stat wise, but basketball is a team game. This team might sneak into March but it seems highly unlikely with their schedule. They host Murray State then Austin Peay this week.
I’m making up my own rules when it comes to this one, but these two teams are tied for the next to last spot. What do they have in common to share this new creation? They have both beaten the team below them, giving them their only conference win. Both teams are led by paint scorers, Myles Taylor for UTM and Sherman Blanford for EIU. One of these two teams has a very high likelihood of making the tournament as an 8 seed, as long as they sweep their head to head against each other. The Skyhawks face off against the Panthers on Thursday before heading to SIUE. The Panthers will stay at home and host SEMO.
One week after pulling them out of the conference basement, I’ve sent the Governors back after a loss to Eastern Illinois. They are a Travis Betran jumper away from being 0-6 in the conference and have lost games they just can’t afford to lose especially in the much weaker West division. Being able to split with the teams at 11 won’t make this team March eligible and I really do feel sorry for Dave Loos how has a bit of talent on the team. They have pieces, but not the whole pie. Govs go on the road to face Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech in order to salvage a month of asking will Loos retire