Its safe to say after this past week of games which division is the cream of the crop, its the East who are 14-2 in matchups against the west. This is seen also in the power rankings as the top is dominated by the West and this week we get to see how explosive the top dog in the conference is. Both divisions are close from top to bottom, but one is a level above at the moment. Lets rank them!
The Bruins faced off in what we assumed was a contender in SEMO this past week and we saw how dominant Belmont was. Back to back blowouts that allowed the bench to get valuable playing time, which the Bruins have as their only weakness. This week was dominated by Ian Clark, who posted back to back 30point games. This upcoming week they face EKU and TSU in what could be the Bruins rise to a potential at large bid with these wins.
The Colonels went to Murray and dominated that Racers from the tip. It is a bit concerning though as they were dominating both games this week and let their opponents make comebacks, something we saw last week. This is a bit concerning but Eastern has made shots in the end. This starts with Mike DiNunno, who was on fire in Murray, but the biggest step up was Corey Walden who is starting in place for Glenn Cosey. Will be interesting to see if Cosey can play against Belmont this upcoming week along with the JSU game.
I really do believe this team is better than the team last year. It seems that their brutal schedule is paying dividends for the Tigers who took care of business against a struggling SEMO team. Patrick Miller is the facilitator of the offense and did get a little banged up last game, but he did finish. Kellen Thornton continues to impress for the Tigers and it makes you not really miss you he who shall not be named. The Tigers host Jacksonville State this upcoming week and then take the trip to the Bruins in which the Tigers could vault all the way to the top spot.
The injuries on this team is an easy blame, but the glaring problem for this team is the defense. In the past the Racers built their team around their strict and aggressive man to man defense. We saw how that turned out in a gutcheck loss to the Colonels. Even against Austin Peay, who is a talented bunch, we saw moments that made you go what? Its mid January and they shouldn’t be tested for awhile and this will let the team get healthier. They return home, which used to be intimidating, to host Eastern Illinois and SIUE.
The Gamecocks bounced back after good losses to team above but they responded with two wins on the road. Tarvin Gaines scored 22 points in their game at EIU but as we have seen trends I have found the Gamecock trend. Slow starts are this team like I hinted at last week. The defense is where they rest their hat, the offense will come around. Keep in mind, their four wins this season will be the reason a few of those teams miss out in March.
The Redhawks have been able to bounce back since their second half collapse to Murray State. That being said they showed life in the second half on the road at Tennessee State. Lets look at the facts, when Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson are on the floor, the Redhawks are very good. Problem is they can’t seem to stay out of foul trouble which happens when teams know you are likely to foul. The guards need to relive the pressure of these guys. Redhawks host Morehead and TTU this week.
The Eagles lost back to back tough games on the road this week. But their are positives for the Eagle Empire. They overcame a huge deficit in Clarksville only to fall on a buzzer beater. They came out hot against a top team and hated rival, but then fell cold and couldn’t fight all the way back. The Eagles are till turning over the ball and are losing the turnover battle, fouls have gone down thus limited the free points. They go to SEMO and UT Martin this week.
The Govenors let another lead slip but were finally able to get their first conference win against Morehead. They followed that up with what I’m sure will be another OVC Newcomer of the week with Travis Betran who almost single handly came back against Murray State. Austin Peay is a very talented team, they are just missing a true point guard just like Morehead. I still think the Govs will get in as long as they can hold off the team below them. The Govs host SIUE and Eastern Illinois this week.
The Cougars got their first win in the OVC but barely defeating a struggling Golden Eagle team led solely by one player. The Cougars are healthy now and could be huge as they go on the road in what could be a huge game come March. The Cougars go on the road to Austin Peay and Murray State. Its not hard to stress how big the Cougars need a 1-1 week if they want to be Nashville bound.
I really like what Catlin said, they are the Tennessee Tech Golden Dillards. We saw it in Edwardsville as clutch time the Eagles kept trying to feed Jud Dillard and that led to turnovers. We will have to wait and see how bad point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas. If he is out for an extended amount of time, it seems the combination of this and their tough division will keep them out of Nashville. Golden Eagles have some time to get healthy as they play Saturday at SEMO.
I think the fact that they were 26 point underdogs to the top team says alot about both teams. The Skyhawks need Myles Taylor to lead the team, which he does in scoring. But what they really need is him on the floor. Back to back games the big man has gotten in foul trouble. The Skyhawks have already played six conference games, and they need some wins if they want a chance. They have a shot with to make some noise at home against Morehead.
The Panthers are now Austin Peay in a sense, they just seem to not be able to finish over the hump. Eastern Illinois isn’t expected to go winless in conference play, but I personally wouldn’t be surprised if they do. The Panthers were led by bigman Morris Woods who scored 25pts against TTU. The Panthers go to Murray State and then to Austin Peay this week.