Independently covering the OVC since 2011. To learn about us, click the button below.

Daily 3 1I saw one sportswriter last night ask if Austin Peay’s double overtime lost at Austin Peay was “something they could build on.” It’s February 20th. A team shouldn’t be so much building as refining at this point of the year.

But it does bring up a interesting point worth noting: every OVC team has a glaring weakness with the OVC Tournament a month out. I’m not talking about small, somewhat troublesome, nitpicky problems; I mean big gaping holes that are ripe for exploitation. Don’t believe me? Here’s a full list:

  • Belmont: Rebounding
  • Murray State: Free-throws
  • Morehead State: Half-court offense, turnovers
  • Eastern Kentucky: Defending in the paint, rebounding (size in general)
  • SIUE: Defending in the paint
  • TTU: Offense (just that entire side of the basketball)
  • Eastern Illinois: Three-point shooting (maybe the least “exploitable” of the bunch)
  • Austin Peay: Free-throws, turnovers
  • Southeast Missouri: Turnovers, forcing turnovers, three-point defense
  • Jacksonville State: Half-court offense
  • UT Martin: Defense (when they don’t get steals…)
  • Tennessee State: Too many to mention

Again, in my view, these are big problems, and every OVC teams has at least one. That’s what could make this OVC Tournament so interesting: there’s not a team that feels like a “sure thing” to make the finals. (Let’s be honest, most people knew Belmont and Murray State were making the finals a year ago. Same thing with the Racers two years ago) But this year, you could make a case for every team to lose every game.

It’s why, in my opinion, the byes are as important as ever. And why, if you’re Eastern Kentucky, you want to hold onto that four-seed with all your might.

Daily 3 2After some…lackluster crowds for recent television games, I’ve had the same discussion with a few people: are TV games special anymore? Five, or especially ten years ago, when ESPN came to an OVC arena, it was a big deal. Fans came out in droves. That still happens on occasion when there’s an especially big matchup, but it kind of feels like TV games have lost their prestige.

There are a few reasons I can think of for this being true: there are more TV games than there used to be, so they’re not unique experiences. They also seems to be consolidated among just a few teams, instead of spread out across the conference. There’s also the OVC Digital Network, which makes every game televised, even if just on the internet.

Whatever the reason, there’s little doubt it’s impact: fans don’t get excited for them like they used to. There are far too many empty arena’s on television, which doesn’t give others a great impression of the conference.

Daily 3 3

Another issue that’s come up in the past: should the OVC allow all 12 teams into the OVC Tournament?

No. They really shouldn’t. This season is a great reason why.

My problem doesn’t have anything to do with a “bad” team winning the OVC Tournament: it’s not often a sub-four seed even makes the finals, much less wins. But one of the things making this part of the season so exciting is that there are six teams playing for something: a bid to Nashville.

Sure, they would be playing for seeds now. But that’s no where near as exciting as playing to extend your season. It’s part of what makes the tournament so exciting in the first place: that you’re one loss away from the year being sent home. That’s the kind of atmosphere that we’ll have tonight in Cape Girardeau, in Belmont with Eastern Illinois…one that wouldn’t exist if everyone got in.

That’s why we should keep things the way they are. This is one area the OVC has right, that a lot of other conferences do not.

  1. Jonathan Shank:
    I had been big time on the side of everyone should get in until last year. Also, the first year SIUe could get in so that might be part of it. I do like the excitement that the games matter and you have something to play for. If there wasn't that then like you said who cares about some of these final games. I do however wish they didn't have it all in Nashville but that's for a different day.
  2. Evan:
    Any chance the OVC moves back to the previous format of holding the first four matchups at the higher seed's arena? Or the possibility of not holding the tournament in Nashville every year? I love Nashville, but I don't like TSU and Belmont being right down the road.
    • ovcball:
      Likely no on both counts. With the OVC centered in Nashville, it makes the most sense to hold it there. They went away from the home / away first round to a) create the double-bye system to give a greater advantage to higher seeds and b) to increase profits from the tournament. (More games in Nashville = more $$$, and hopefully eventually more TV $$$ if they can get more of the tourney televised because it's in a central location) TV is another reason why Nashville makes sense: TV crews can get there easily.
  3. The Racer Hobo™:
    I do miss the first round home games. I still love the TV games, if it was ESPN or ESPN2 I think it would be a bigger deal over ESPN U, NBC SPORTS network, CBS SPORTS NETWORK. May even Fox Sports 1 would draw in more.
    • ovcball:
      I miss them to...and those were ALWAYS packed. (Unlike the first round games in Nashville. Which aren't...
  4. Daniel Porter:
    I've been against all teams in conf. tournaments too, and you bring up a good point of why, but I also think the other reason of a bad team getting in is my main point. A tourney spot should be somewhat of a reward, even in conf. ones, at least not be the bottom 20% of your conf. Plus I think it's unfair to force the top team to have to play a game against a bad team rather than getting to rest on a bye.
  5. Allan Lewis:
    I just want a traditional 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5 tournament. Things will always work themselves out, you just need to make the top seeds sweat a little.
    • ovcball:
      Haha. I didn't mind the old format, either.
  6. semosupporter:
    Just one time I would like a decision in college sports to be made in favor of the kids that play the game. They all play for one reason. The opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. The top four seeds could still get a bye with 5-12 playing the first round and then re-seed the next round playing the top four. The OVC does the way it is now for one reason only and that's money. They want one of the top two seeds to advance to the NCAA tournament. So they make it as hard as possible for a lower seed to advance.
    • ovcball:
      I think you should give some advantage to the regular season, though. It's much harder to win over a 16-same season than it is to win over three or four games. I don't mind the seeding as much, and you're right, it's about money.
OVC Ball
Final Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.

2017-18 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 0-0 2-0
Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
Murray State 0-0 1-1
Southeast Missouri* 0-0 1-1
Belmont 0-0 1-1
Eastern Kentucky 0-0 1-1
Tennessee State 0-0 1-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SIUE 0-0 0-1
Austin Peay 0-0 0-2
Morehead State 0-0 0-2
UT Martin 0-0 0-2

*Ineligible for postseason (APR)