As we enter conference play, we’re looking at the best, worst, and most likely scenarios that could play out for every OVC team.
There is no team in the OVC looking for a fresh start more than the Tigers. We’re past the point where you can take solace in the toughest non-conference schedule in the OVC, especially after losing at home to you former coach, and previously one-win Miami (OH) team. Does the fresh start mean a fresh outlook?
Best Case Scenario: Here’s what we know: Patrick Miller is really good. He leads the conference in scoring, plays 37 minutes a game, is 7th in the OVC in assists. He’s a conference player of the year caliber player, and a team with that kind of player isn’t going to miss the OVC tournament. M.J. Rhett finds more success against the OVC, and Jacquan Nobles can return to his sophomore year success, or at least figure out what he did against Auburn. Other good signs: their three-point defense is the best in the league, and they’re hitting nearly 70% of their free-throws. It might not be pretty, but they win just enough to squeak into the OVC Tournament.
Worst Case Scenario: We have historical context here, and it’s not good for Tennessee State. Two years ago, UT Martin entered OVC play with one Division-I win (one more than TSU) having played the toughest non-conference schedule. They then went 0-16 in conference play, finishing the season 4-27. One man can only lead you so far, and playing in the tougher East division is too much for this team to overcome. They’ll pull a win or two, but their miserable season ends as badly as it began.
Most Likely Scenario: This trends more towards the worst case, in my view. You have to really try to talk yourself into this being a solid team, and put a lot of faith in players that simply haven’t produced on a consistent level this year. Even when they’ve been in games that they’ve had chances to win, they simply couldn’t find a way, and their win against Division II Fisk was far, so very far from being dominant. They’ll pull a win or two you don’t expect, but they’re out of the race just to make the OVC tournament entering the final week.