Game of the Day
Belmont 20-5 (11-1) at Tennessee State 14-11 (8-4) – ESPNU
All-in-all, it’s not a great slate as far as important games for March. But after the Bruins loss at Murray, one more loss by Belmont could knock the Bruins out of the one-seed line they’ve held all season long.
In their first meeting, the Tigers fell behind early, but were able to use a big second-half run to close the gap, before running off of steam. Not only is the game in their gym this time around, but the Tigers also have Robert Covington back in the lineup. The senior forward is coming off his best rebounding game since returning, and could be a big factor for the TIgers’ chances.
The Bruins bounced back after their loss in Murray, but now there are question as to how stout they really are. Rebounds have been a serious concern for a few months now, and Tennessee State is one of the teams that could expose that weakness.
Rest of the Slate
Jacksonville State 15-8 (7-5) at Morehead State 11-14 (5-6)
A few weeks ago, Morehead State was 5-3 in the conference, and appeared they could possibly break into the top-4. Now, the Eagles are sliding, and aren’t yet a lock to make it to Nashville. (Although likely just one win away) Jacksonville State will be without head coach James Green, suspended one game for making contact with an official on Saturday
Austin Peay 5-20 (1-10) at Eastern Illinois 7-18 (4-8)
Eastern Illinois is coming off their second loss in the past three games, and appear to be cooling off a bit after their three-game win streak put the Panthers in contention for the OVC Tournament. A win today against the Governors would be a big help to their cause. Austin Peay fans can lament close and overtime losses, but it’s just not been their year.
Murray State 18-5 (9-2) at SIU Edwardsville 8-13 (4-7) – ESPN3
The Racers are playing their best basketball of the year, and coming off an impressive homestand over the past week. Now attention turns to whether they have the meddle to win on the road. SIU Edwardsville did themselves no favors last week with two road losses, and needs a big win at home this week to keep from falling out of the race for the final spots in Nashville.
Tennessee Tech 9-14 (3-8) at Eastern Kentucky 19-6 (8-3)
The Golden Eagles win over Jacksonville State on Saturday may have been a season saver, but they now need to pull a big upset to get back in the race for the 8th seed. Murray State’s win over Belmont could keep the Colonels alive in the East, but they can’t afford any more losses to get the coveted double-bye.
Five Notes For The Day
- The last time Eastern Illinois won two straight against Austin Peay? 2001. EIU edged Austin Peay at home in February, and then beat them in the OVC Tournament the same year. The Panthers won at Austin Peay just over a month ago.
- It would benefit a non-Belmont OVC champ for Tennessee State to win tonight. The Tigers are just outside the RPI top-100, and a win over the 18th ranked Bruins could likely give every team that’s beaten TSU a top-100 RPI win. (Namely, EKU and Murray State) Of course, it wouldn’t help the Bruins RPI any…
- The idea of two-bids seems to be popping up again, and I don’t know why. EKU’s RPI? 66. Murray State’s RPI? 82. Neither are getting an at-large. And I’m not certain Belmont can either, although if they win out until the OVC Tournament finals, they might have a chance. But that’s the only path.