So my (unexpected) week-long vacation is over, so welcome back everyone. So what did everyone miss over the past week? Quite a bit.
- Belmont was knocked off in the NIT quarterfinals by a late Clemson rally, leading to one of the oddest court storms in college basketball history.
- Athletics Director Barbara Burke is leaving Eastern Illinois.
- Murray State is still dancing in the CIT. They’ll host Pacific on Tuesday for a spot in the finals. The Racers fans over the past two games have gotten quite a bit of praise from CollegeInsider.com folks. (Murray opened as a five-point favorite over Pacific, for what it’s worth) Also, the Racers are the first ever OVC team to play an April basketball game. They’ve also won more CIT games this year alone than the rest of the conference in the tournament’s short history.
- Spring Football practice has started, but teams are split on whether or not to host a Spring Game this year. Blame the NCAA, who counts it against the three practices that teams are allowed to have full contact.
- We’ve launched our OVC Basketball transfer list. It’s worth a bookmark.
If this year’s NCAA Tournament has had one major storyline, it’s been “experience versus talent.” The four-year schools like Dayton and Wichita State, and Wisconsin against the one-year schools like Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke.
Here’s what I’ve noticed: when it comes down to it, in March, talent often wins out, with Kentucky especially providing the proof. The Wildcats had a terrible year (by their standards) but over the past month, they’ve been one of the better teams in the nation. This even works at the OVC level.
At the end of the season, the four best teams in the conference were: Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Belmont, and Southeast Missouri. They’re also the four teams picked atop each division at the start of the year. Why were they picked there? Simply, they were perceived to have the most talent. While three of the four teams struggled throughout the season, when it came down to it, crunch time, where everyone if focused and ready to play, the talent rose to the top over the last two weeks of the season, and into the OVC Tournament.
Murray State is proving that now in the CIT, as well.
Fivethirtyeight.com, which uses advanced statistical analysis for their NCAA Tournament predictor, uses the AP preseason poll as one of it’s five factors for this very reason.
We often say preseason polls don’t mean anything, and they don’t for the season as a whole. But for March? Maybe they do. At the very least, they provide a snapshot as to what teams athletic directors and coaches deem the most talented.
They seemed to get it pretty right this year.
- Losin’ Out: Our look at who teams will be losing, and the impact it will have on the 2014-15 season. These have already started, and will continue this week (Read: Eastern Illinois, Austin Peay)
- Later this month, we’ll launch an OVC Ball tradition: Our Ridiculously Early 2014-15 previews.
- We’ll also have comprehensive season in reviews for all 12 OVC Ball teams, likely starting next week.
- Later this summer, we’ll relaunch a new OVC Ballcast. (Note: I’m looking for a co-host!)
We’ve also got a few long-term projects we’re working on that we’ll announce when we have a few more details. Either way, we’ll be around all six months of the college basketball “summer”!