This past weekend shook us all to our core and made us think who is good and who is bad. It seems that this year more than I can remember that on any given night, there will be what we consider an “upset” based on the team’s name. This concept is really old, but it’s hard to break bad habits. When each team is playing up to their potential, there really isn’t upsets in my eyes. That’s what we saw on Saturday, teams playing up to their potential. With that,this week’s ranking session as difficult as determinating all the playoff scenarios. Let’s rank them
The Bruins took complete control for the number one seed this week, with a last minute basket at Morehead, then a tough road win at Richmond and what is called “The OVC’s only hope”. The problem of rebounding is there for this team, but it could be argued that they shoot so well, 49% ,that they don’t have to rebound. While Ian Clark will probably win player of the week once again, it was his other guards Kerron Johnson and JJ Mann going off up in Richmond to put daggers in the Colonel faithful. Only way to beat them is to pretty much hope they have a bad shooting night. Belmont hosts Morehead and TTU this week.
While I won’t comment on Jeff Neubauer’s comments, Catlin did that already, the Colonels are still the second best team in the conference. As their broadcast team said on Saturday night, if it wasn’t for the Bruins joining the conference they would still be perfect in OVC play. The Colonels are without two keys players, but once again Corey Walden has been a huge contributor in his starts. They shot the ball great and in a normal game they win Saturday, but the just allowed the Bruins to hit shot after shot, some were just luck to be honest. Colonels go on the road to UT Martin and SEMO this week.
Almost upsetting the top team then topping another contender as the Eagles right back in the discussion for second best team in the conference. If not for a crazy shot in Clarksville, they would have quality losses to EKU and Belmont. That being said, this team still finds a way to foul in terrible situations like we saw against Belmont. They depend heavily on their forwards on both ends to score and thus need them to stay out of foul trouble. The Eagles go to Belmont then Jacksonville State this week.
Tough week for the Tigers who went 0-2 on their death valley road swing. While they are playing without their best player, who isn’t due back til mid February, the Tigers just simply couldn’t hit big shots when they needed to in the second half in both games. Their athleticism is very well known but for a team with such size and length you would expect them to cause better matchup problems, but teams have found ways to overcome that. The Tigers are still in the running for a single round bye, but they need pick up some key wins against the tough east. Only one game for TSU this week as they host rival TTU on Thursday.
Racers have been playing with fire all season and once again it burned them, this team they didn’t fall too far back, but when you can’t make a shot, its a deeper hole. I have posed this question to numerous people when I’m asked what is their problem, “When was the last time they were in control?’ My answer is their first round game against Auburn where everything was clicking. While their individual stats look nice and scouts awe at individual talent, they need another consistent scorer in the starting lineup. Right now I see Canaan and Daniel scoring, and their other two scorers come off the bench, Mushatt and Moss. Racers will look to rebound against rival Austin Peay on Saturday.
For the first time in their history, the Gamecocks defeated the OVC powerhouse that is Murray State. It was the typical game for the Gamecocks, who were shorthanded as guard Darion Rackley was injured. They used their team effect to score and it was Brian Williams coming through at the end as he scored a team high 17. I, and their fans, really really do wish that Jacksonville State was eligible this year for the tournament in order to add some more intrigue to matchups. The Gamecocks host Morehead State this week where we could see once again the Gamecocks put a twist on the race for the bye.
Timeout, timeout (sorry Cougar fans) but the roller coaster of a season continues as controversial calls put the Cougars in a tough situation. I still see them as the second best team in the western division, so celebrate on that if you wish. The return of Mark Yelovich has paid dividends not only for himself, but has allowed Jerome Jones even more opportunities as he no longer gets the double team looks from opposing defenses. SIUE is starting to play like we expected, but losses like this happen. That’s how its been for everyone this season. SIUE hosts EIU on Saturday for a battle of second place.
It certainly feels weird putting the Panthers up this high especially after their non conference struggles but they deserve it. With wins over Austin Peay, UT Martin and SEMO they own all the major tiebreakers at the moment against the teams that will be fighting for those last few spots. The emergence on Sherman Blanford has been amazing for the Panthers who really needed a banger down low. They have that now and can set their sights on second place going to Edwardsville.
Just like the Gamecocks, the Skyhawks played up to their potential in the win against SIUE Saturday. Mike Liabo was on fire, Terrence Smith got into the action looking healthy and making some very difficult shots, and Myles Taylor was his usual self. When this combination happens, they really do deserve to win as it seems to happen very rarely. The one bad note was their loss to EIU really does put them behind for a shot at Nashville, but with another team falling too, they have a chance. The Skyhawks will host EKU on Thursday and we will have live coverage of that one.
The wheels have fallen off for the Redhawks as they have lost now 6 of their last 7 games. The issue we have seen has been the mental mistakes, as was seen in overtime against Eastern Illinois. The fouls in certain situations have been the problem, along with the need for a guard which has been harped on enough. You have to wonder if they can make it to Nashville on the backs of two big men who must stay out of foul trouble in order to have a shot, which they have their last few games. The Redhawks look to end the streak as they host Eastern Kentucky, anything can happen on a Saturday in the OVC.
My first reaction to the ESPNU game was, “I bet the network wishes they had planned a better matchup.” That game was ugly but there were positives for the team that we saw have a carry over effect for the Golden Eagles. That being said their two wins in conference play have been against the west. Now they must face the dogs in their own division and that will push the Eagles out of a title shot. Just like I questioned with SEMO, can TTU make it with just one man? I suspect not. The Golden Eagles go on the road to face TSU and Belmont. You have to play the schedule you are dealt sadly.
Its pretty safe to say that this team is the first official team eliminated from the OVC tournament, or making it at least, in my opinion. Losing to UTM, EIU, SEMO, SIUE, and TTU puts you way way back in scenarios. They have some very good pieces in Travis Betran, Anthony Campbell and Chris Horton. However they are missing the driving piece to the puzzle and head coach Dave Loos knows that. The Govs will go on the road and must win at Murray State in order to stay away from their conference tournament hopes flat lining.