1. We’re starting our OVC Outlooks today, where we try to predict the best and worst case scenarios for all 12 conference teams. (Eastern Illinois’ outlook is here. TSU’s here.) So where do I have everyone? Here’s my newly updated predicted final standings, with projected OVC Tournament seed
(2) Murray State
(5) Southeast Missouri
(6) Austin Peay
(8) UT Martin
(–) Eastern Illinois
(3) Eastern Kentucky
(4) Morehead State
(7) Tennessee Tech
(–) Jacksonville State
(–) Tennessee State
In the West, it’s really close between the top two teams. Murray State is playing better right now, but still winless on the road. But SEMO has struggled too much at home to have continued confidence in the Redhawks. It could go either way, and I wouldn’t be surprised, as I don’t think either is dominant.
In the East, it comes down to consistency. Fully healthy, I think Belmont is more consistent offensively. They’re not going to go 15-1 like last year, and as many as three or four losses could win the division and the conference. Morehead is the least consistent of the big three, which is why I have them behind the Bruins and EKU.
I am certain these will be totally wrong come March, and I’m okay with that. Feel free to have at me in the comments.
2. I get why Houston called up former OVCer Isaiah Canaan, and why he remains on their roster despite Jeremy Lin being healthy again. But part of me wonders if they’re doing Canaan a disservice. He hasn’t played, with the exception of 22 seconds, in his three games with the Rockers, three games in four days for that matter. And now, he’s set to miss games with the NBDL Rio Grande Vipers, where he was soaring. You need your second round pick to play to get better. Sitting on the bench because you’re worries that one of your two guards might get injured doesn’t help him, and really doesn’t help you as a team either.
3. While there still are some non-conference games left, the OVC’s fate is pretty much sealed. With the possible exception of Belmont running away from the conference, they OVC is almost certainly a 15-seed at best in this year’s NCAA tournament. It’s a shame, really, given the OVC’s success over the past five years, but the back-end, especially, has struggled so much that everyone’s RPI will take a hit just for playing each other. When it comes to rising among the ranks of the mid-major conferences, it’s not just the Murray State’s and Belmont’s we need to look to. The MVC, in their heyday, had five or six, or more, NCAA tournament quality teams, and a conference full of teams capable of big wins. The OVC doesn’t have that.