Over the 7 or so years I’ve been covering the OVC on this site, (seriously. This is year No. 8) a lot of things have changed. I’ve redesigned the site at least four times, I’ve moved halfway across the country, and at one point I asked a coach if he was going to retire…only about six years before he decided to “retire.”
But through all of those years, there has been one constant: me griping over a team somehow going an entire month without playing at home or a team that somehow has a schedule filled with more cupcakes than my kitchen. Yes everyone, it’s time once again to compare the basketball schedules of the OVC, using my own special criteria.
UPDATE: UT Martin was kind enough to send me their tentative schedule for the season, which they’re expected to make official soon. I’ve updated the numbers below using what was provided — but am not mentioning any teams not officially announced (by other schools, in this case) due to the fact that other opponents aren’t finalized. When UTM’s official schedule is released, I’ll update this again with their information.
OPPONENT KENPOM AVERAGES (Using 2016-17 KenPom Rankings)
Lower numbers = tougher. Rank in ()
- (1) Austin Peay: 131.4
- (5) Belmont: 165.1
- (7) Eastern Illinois: 184.3
- (12) Eastern Kentucky: 215.1
- (11) Jacksonville State: 214.8
- (3) Morehead State: 152.4
- (10) Murray State: 191.1
- (9) SIUE: 188.6
- (8) Southeast Missouri: 187.75
- (4) Tennessee State: 159.3
- (2) Tennessee Tech: 145.3
- (6) UT Martin: 169.7
- Austin Peay (4): @ Vanderbilt, @ Virginia, @ Oklahoma State, @ Illinois
- Belmont (4): vs Vanderbilt, at Middle Tennessee, at Providence, at TCU
- Eastern Illinois (2): at San Diego State, at Marquette
- Eastern Kentucky (1): at Ole Miss
- Jacksonville State (2): at Richmond, at Mississippi State
- Morehead State (3): at Xavier, Virginia Tech, Butler
- Murray State (3): vs Middle Tennessee, at Illinois State, vs Auburn
- SIUE (2): at Purdue, at Creighton
- Southeast Missouri (2): at Louisiana Tech, at Kansas State
- Tennessee State (4): at Kansas, vs Middle Tennessee, at Texas, at Purdue
- Tennessee Tech (3): at TCU, at Dayton, at Indiana
- UT Martin (2): at Illinois, at Mississippi State
- Austin Peay (2): vs Alabama A&M, vs Miami (OH)
- Belmont (3): vs Seattle or Detroit Mercy, vs Milwaukee, vs Pepperdine
- Eastern Illinois (2): vs/at Western Illinois, (home-home series)
- Eastern Kentucky (5): vs Prairie View A&M, vs Jacksonville, at Oregon St., at Charleston Southern, vs Norfolk State
- Jacksonville State (5 or 6): vs Savannah State, (in Chattanooga) vs Alabama State, vs Louisiana Monroe, at Oregon State, vs Howard. JSU could also play Alabama State a second time in Chattanooga.
- Morehead State (2): vs/at Central Arkansas (home-home series)
- Murray State (4): vs Florida A&M, at Saint Louis, vs Marist, at Detroit Mercy
- SIUE (3): at Stetson, vs Western Illinois, vs Chicago State
- Southeast Missouri (2 or 3): vs Cal St. Northridge, (in Cancun) at Saint Louis. SEMO could also play Binghampton in Cancun.
- Tennessee State (2): at Alabama State, at North Carolina A&T
- Tennessee Tech (1): Either Jackson State or Eastern Maryland Shore (in Destin, FL)
- UT Martin (2): vs Southern, unannounced opponent
LONGEST STRETCH WITHOUT A HOME GAME
- Austin Peay: 17 days (Dec. 2 – Dec. 19)
- Belmont: 19 days (Dec. 16 – Jan 4)
- Eastern Illinois: 25 days (Nov. 24 – Dec. 19)
- Eastern Kentucky: 17 days (Dec. 18 – Jan. 4)
- Jacksonville State: 20 days (Nov. 10 – Nov. 30)
- Morehead State: 18 days (Dec. 17 – Jan. 4)
- Murray State: 14 days (Dec. 2 – Dec. 16)
- SIUE: 32 days (Dec. 19 – Jan. 11) — 4 straight road games to start OVC play.
- Southeast Missouri: 16 days (Nov. 10 – Nov. 26)
- Tennessee State: 33 days (Dec. 2 – Jan. 4) — AGAIN? Seriously?
- Tennessee Tech: 18 days (Nov. 29 – Dec. 17)
- UT Martin: 15 days (Nov. 26 – Dec. 10) — subject to change, but based on tentative schedule
NON-DIVISION I OPPONENTS
- Austin Peay (2): Oakland City, Bethel (TN)
- Belmont (0)
- Eastern Illinois (2): Fontbonne, St. Francis (IL)
- Eastern Kentucky (2): Kentucky State, Asbury
- Jacksonville State (1): Tennessee Wesleyan
- Morehead State (2): Alice Lloyd, Kentucky Christian
- Murray State (2): Brescia, Harris Stowe
- SIUE (0)
- Southeast Missouri (2): Missouri Baptist, Hannibal-LaGrange
- Tennessee State (2): Reinhardt, Fisk
- Tennessee Tech (2): Midway University, Boyce College
- UT Martin (2): Both unannounced opponents
- Austin Peay: Nov. 19th vs UNC Asheville. Austin Peay has quite a schedule. It’s starts with road game against two top-35 teams in KenPom a season ago, before the Governors come back home against Oakland City. UNC Asheville is a good team falling just outside the top-100 a year ago. If AP wants to compete against the top-tier of the OVC, teams like the Bulldogs are who the Govs’ are going to need to beat in January and February.
- Belmont: Nov. 13th vs Vanderbilt. Forget being a benchmark. Belmont is hosting Vanderbilt in the Curb Event Center. Not only is it an SEC team, is a cross-town SEC team. At Belmont. In the Curb Event Center. That place better be packed.
- Eastern Kentucky: Nov. 22nd vs either Eastern Washington or Georgia State (in Las Vegas). So, it’s not the sexiest game on the schedule, nor is it one you’re likely to watch unless you catch a web stream while at work, but we’re looking for solid challenges and those are not all that frequent on the Colonels’ slate. NKU and Marshall in December are other opponents likely to be in that 150-200 KenPom range that will usually make you a top-4 team in the OVC.
- Jacksonville State: Dec. 3rd vs Samford. While I’m looking forward to JSU making the trip to Buffalo, (come say Hi!) former OVC foe Samford heads to familiar territory when they play in Pete Mathews Coliseum in early December. Samford was a 20-win team last year, so they should put up a solid challenge for the defending OVC Tournament champs.
- Morehead State: Take your pick? Lipscomb, Marshall, IUPUI, and NKU are all likely solid opponents mid-major opponents for the Eagles, whose overall schedule is really quite solid, including trips to nearby Xavier and drivable Butler.
- Murray State: Nov. 13 vs Middle Tennessee. Contrary to popular belief, Auburn should not be the showcase game this season in the CFSB Center. They’re a middling SEC team that have had one winning season since 2009. (Okay, that was last year. But still.) MTSU is one of the best mid-majors in the nation, coming off back-to-back years with an NCAA Tournament win. That’s the game to watch if you’re a Racer fan.
- SIUE: Dec. 6 vs IUPUI: The Jaguars are one of the teams the Cougars beat last season, so the rematch could be interesting. It’s weird how much, we’ll call it ‘better,’ the Cougars have been in non-conference play the last two years: 8 of their combined 12 wins came against non-OVC teams.
- Southeast Missouri: Nov. 16 at Evansville. While the Aces sure missed them, I doubt the numerous OVC teams that play Evansville really missed the absence of DJ Balentine or Egidijus Mockevicius last season, but without them Evansville finished under .500. They’re still an upper tier MVC team, and the trip gives the Redhawks a game at this year’s OVC Tournament host arena.
- Tennessee State: Nov. 18 vs Middle Tennessee. I already talked up MTSU in the Murray State section above, so instead I’ll simply point out that TSU lost four overtime games last year, including two in conference play and one in the OVC Tournament. They were a weird, weird team with great wins and baffling losses all year long. So, the true benchmark for TSU is probably their conference opener at UT Martin on Dec. 28th, and the 17 conference games after that. Great analysis, I know. You’re welcome.
- Tennessee Tech: Nov. 29 vs Lipscomb. TTU was swept in a home-home series with the Bisons last season, including giving up 104 points in their first meeting. I like that Lipscomb plays so many local teams: makes for a good non-conference environment.
- UT Martin: Nov. 18 at Akron. If the schedule stays the way it is now — UTM opens the season with four interesting games, including at Marshall, at Illinois and at Akron. All are good teams, so the fourth of those games is the most interesting to me, as the Skyhawks will have a bit more experience under their belt. Honestly, the whole schedule has a lot of tough-but-winnable games, and weirdly, LSU is one of the “easier” teams on it, based on last year’s KenPom standings.
FULL SCHEDULE LINKS:
- Austin Peay
- Eastern Illinois
- Eastern Kentucky
- Jacksonville State
- Morehead State
- Murray State
- Southeast Missouri
- Tennessee State
- Tennessee Tech
- UT Martin — Coming soon