1. Welcome to the first Daily 3 of the new year, and the first full slate of OVC games. It’s also tempo-free Thursday, so let’s look at some non-temp stats for all six of today’s matchups.
|RPI||SOS||Offensive Points Per Possession||Defensive Points Per Possession||TO +/- Per 100 Posessions||Rebounding %|
|Southeast Missouri||197||315||1.084 (+0.134)||1.054 (-0.019)||-2.4||56.2%|
|Austin Peay||306||314||0.968 (+0.019)||1.047 (-0.066)||-1.1||50.6%|
|Morehead State||132||205||1.009 (+0.040)||1.005 (-0.127)||+0.8||59.0%|
|Eastern Kentucky||127||274||1.069 (+0.208)||1.013 (-0.069)||+7.6||48.1%|
|Tennessee Tech||290||312||0.996 (+0.074)||1.071 (-0.021)||-1.9||58.3%|
|Belmont||58||44||1.076 (+0.080)||1.093 (-0.019)||-0.4||48.5%|
I was actually amazed how lopsided nearly every game is on paper. Every matchup’s theoretical better offense is also the theoretical better defense. What makes tonight interesting: four of those theoretical “favorites” are on the road.
Another item I found interesting was the relationship between a team’s RPI and their SOS. Quite often, we see numbers like Tennessee State’s: Low RPI’s but high SOS. It makes sense that if you’re losing a lot of games, your opponents are probably winning often. But that’s not the case for most of the 300+ RPI teams. It’s not a case of a so-so team playing good opponents. It’s…you know what, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there…
2. Our game of the week is Southeast Missouri at Murray State, and presents a great chance for one team to take early control of the West division. I’ve been down on both teams throughout the non-conference campaign, so I’m really hard pressed to pick a winner here. Both teams show flashes of great play, followed by 30 minutes of mediocrity. Without a doubt, the Redhawks will hope to take advantage of the weaker (and often foul-happy) Racers frontcourt, but does SEMO have the backcourt to stop Cameron Payne and T.J. Sapp? The matchup I do want to see: Sapp versus Jarkeious Bradley. They likely won’t play man-to-man often, but I’m highly curious to see who can help his team rise up.
In a way, SEMO should probably feel fortunate to be playing Murray State so early in the conference season. The Racers students are still on break, and Murray State is almost assuredly only going to get better as their very young team continues to gel. When they travel to Cape Girardeau, the Redhawks fans should be out in full force, so a win today could go a long way for Southeast Missouri in conference play.
3. UT Martin at Austin Peay is another intriguing matchup in the West. The Skyhawks are already off to an 0-1 start after losing a halftime lead against the Gamecocks (seriously, this is really an epidemic this year) and could use a road win to help kick start their OVC campaign. Austin Peay has played well at times, but can partially thank a soft schedule. The turnover battle is really what could get the Governors in trouble at home. Both teams are among the top in the OVC at forcing turnovers, but the Governors also have the dubious distinction of losing the ball quite often themselves. If they’re minus five or six in that category, that could cause some major problems.
I’d be somewhat surprised if any game involving East Division is a single-digit affair. Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State are facing one of their longest road-trips of the year, and we all know that sometimes strange things happen when you’re five hours away from home, but EIU and SIUE haven’t exactly shown a lot on either end of the floor to give a serious thought to an upset. Tennessee Tech gets their first chance to prove they’re for real at lowly Tennessee State, who is coming off a horrific loss at Eastern Illinois, and Jacksonville State gets the defending champs at the Curb Events Center.
…now watch all four of those games be close.