In the end, there proved to only be one game of consequence today when it comes to the OVC Tournament, but that doesn’t mean others weren’t important. As many people want to talk about it “being a new season” and everyone has a chance, what happened today, and in the weeks previous are important to the outcome.
But for eight teams, it’s now win-or-go-home, with four possibly wild days, given how this season has gone, standing between them and a highly coveted NCAA Tournament Birth. In case you missed it earlier, here are the seeds:
- Murray State (by virtue of winning the West Division)
- Eastern Kentucky
- Tennessee State
- Morehead State
- Southeast Missouri
- Eastern Illinois
- UT Martin
UT Martin and Morehead State will open the tournament on Wednesday. The winner faces Tennessee State, with Belmont on deck.
EIU and SEMO will play the night cap on opening day, with the winner getting Eastern Kentucky on Thursday. The survivor of this threesome gets Murray State in the semi-finals.
Jacksonville State 71, Belmont 78
Recap | Belmont earned the outright Ohio Valley Conference title, thanks in part to a career scoring night from senior Kerron Johnson.
SIU Edwardsville 46, Eastern Illinois 61
Recap | SIU Edwardsville came out flat, as Eastern Illinois jumped out to a huge first half lead. This game wasn’t really this close, with the Panthers going long periods of the second half without scoring.
UT Martin 58, Austin Peay 91
Recap | Looking at the score alone, you’d be hard pressed to explain why UT Martin is in the OVC Tournament, and Austin Peay not. UTM goes scoreless for first 8-minutes in blowout loss.
Southeast Missouri 84, Murray State 65
Recap | Ever since Murray State beat Belmont and Tennessee State, their season has turned into a nightmare. SEMO is rolling heading into Nashville, winning two straight on the road.
Eastern Kentucky 81, Tennessee State 85 OT
Recap | If this was an OVC Tournament preview, it was a fun one. EKU misses two chances to win the game in regulation, and can’t get hardly any shots to fall in the extra five minutes.
Morehead State 66, Tennessee Tech 72
Recap | Dennis Ogbe has a career night for the Golden Eagles, whose season ends just short of an OVC Tournament birth.
Three Point Shot
- And the favorite to win the OVC Tournament is…Well, it has to be Belmont right? The Bruins are rolling, and it doesn’t hurt the tourney is in their backyard. But much like Tennessee State last year, Belmont students are on Spring Break. I’m not saying the Bruins are a lock to win, just that with Murray State limping into the Tournament, Belmont is the odds-on pick. Tennessee State in the semis could be an early stumbling block, though. If the Tigers can find a way past Morehead State.
- The SEMO / EIU matchup is intriguing. Both teams have finished the season with solid wins, and both are playing great basketball. It’s also a complete contrast in styles, with the up-temp Redhawks and the methodical Panthers.
- Last year, the tournament was pretty chalk. No team won two straight, except for the Tourney champions. I expect that to change this year.
Player of the Night: AJ Jones, Southeast Missouri. Not only did the guard score 20 points in just 23 minutes of play, he did it on perfect 6-6 shooting from the field.
Player of the Night in a Loss: Nick Cook, Jacksonville State. Cook finished with just 10 points, but pulled down 10 of JSU’s 26 rebounds in a loss to Belmont.
Very loudly sung Unsung Hero: This didn’t exactly fly under the radar, but is without a doubt worthy of the “Hero” part:Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan gave up his starting spot to fellow senior and walk-on Jordan Burge tonight, who hasn’t scored a single point in his four-year career. Too bad the Racers night didn’t end on such a high note.
Team Trending Upward: Eastern Illinois. Not only did the Panthers get into the field, they did so emphatically. A great turnaround in just one year from head coach Jay Spoonhour.
Team Trending Downward: Murray State. Two losses at home this week put an explanation mark on an often unexplainable, and disappointing regular season. If there is a “switch” to flip, they need to find it, fast.