Now is the definition of crunch time. Four games today, three of which hold a fair bit of significance.
Game of the Day
Eastern Kentucky 22-7 (11-3) at Tennessee Tech 11-16 (4-10)
7:30 p.m. CST
This matchup gets game of the day status for what it means to each team. Tennessee Tech needs a win to stay in the race for an OVC Tournament spot, (although a loss doesn’t necessarily eliminate them) while an EKU wins keeps them in the hunt for a shared OVC regular season title, and perhaps more importantly the three-seed in the tournament, avoiding Belmont until the OVC finals.
When these teams met two weeks ago in Richmond, it was a much closer game than many anticipated. Tennessee Tech led nearly midway through the second half, before the Colonels pulled away late for an 11-point win. EKU only committed six turnovers in the win, a number that TTU will need to be much bigger to pull off a needed upset today.
Morehead State 13-16 (7-7) at Tennessee State 16-12 (10-4)
6:00 p.m. CST – ESPNU
Tennessee State is also in the hunt for the 3-seed in next week’s OVC Tournament, but they need some help to get there. This is a preview of a possible quarterfinal matchup, as currently TSU is the four-seed, and Morehead State the five.
The Eagles pulled off the upset earlier this year, but this time they must travel to Nashville where the Tigers are 10-1 on the season. Morehead State also may be dealing with a bit of fatigue, as they’ve played a total of three overtimes in the past week in a pair of losses.
Depth is becoming a surprising issue for Tennessee State as of late. The finally healthy Tigers have only gone 7-deep in the past few games, and seemed to run out of steam Saturday in their loss to Loyola (Md.) I’m not sure why they’re playing so close to the vest now, (with Robert Covington playing all 40 minutes on Saturday) but the shorter bench has been a theme the past few games
A win for Tennessee State would tie the school record for single-season wins.
Southeast Missouri 14-15 (6-8) at Austin Peay 7-22 (3-11)
7:00 p.m. CST
Southeast Missouri is in the tournament, Austin Peay is out. With some help, SEMO could still rise to the 5-seed, (although one could argue the 6-seed is a better place to be to make a four day run in Nashville) but would need a pair of Morehead State loses to finish the season.
You could argue that the biggest thing the Redhawks need heading into the tournament is momentum. SEMO has lost back-to-back nailbiters and finishes the season at Murray State. A loss tonight could put the Redhawks in the OVC Tournament with a four-game losing streak.
Austin Peay’s season may be all but over, but you have to give them credit for effort. Yet another overtime loss on Saturday in the final Bracketbusters matchup only seems fitting, as the Governors have been on the wrong end of many more close finishes than wins.
UT Martin 8-19 (4-10) at Murray State 20-7 (10-4)
7:00 p.m. CST
Murray State has had a few stumbles this season, but they’ve never stumbled against UT Martin at home. That might factor in to why the Racers are 20-point favorites on their home floor tonight.
Isaiah Canaan appears to peaking at just the right time for the Racers. Coming off back-to-back great performances, the senior appears to be getting his touch back in time for a Tournament run. Also credit head coach Steve Prohm who has found some ways to get Cannan the ball coming off of screens for some catch-and-shoot threes.
UT Martin needs a win badly. A loss tonight, and they’ll be scoreboard watching before tip on Saturday, needing a EIU win over SIU Edwardsville to keep their OVC Tournament hopes alive. They’ve won four of their last seven.