2009-10 Conference Primers: #24 – Ohio Valley

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2009

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James D. Horne is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.  He covers Austin Peay for The Leaf-Chronicle and co-hosts The Afternoon Blitz from 4-6 p.m. on AM 540 in Clarksville, TN.  Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Morehead State (13-5)
  2. Murray State (13-5)
  3. Austin Peay (12-6)
  4. Eastern Kentucky (10-8)
  5. Eastern Illinois (9-9)
  6. Jacksonville State (9-9)
  7. Tennessee Tech (8-10)
  8. UT Martin (6-12)
  9. Tennessee State (4-14)
  10. Southeast Missouri State (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • Wes Channels (G), Austin Peay, 6’3, 210, Sr, 16.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 71 3-pts
  • Romain Martin (G), Eastern Illinois, 6’3, 185, Sr, 15.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 74 3-pointers
  • Maze Stallworth (F), Morehead State, 6’4, 215, Sr, 12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 38.0 3-pt%
  • Danero Thomas (F), Murray State, 6’4, 190, Sr, 12.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 spg, 41.8 FG%
  • Kenneth Faried (C), Morehead State, 6’8 215 Jr, 13.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 56.0 FG%

6th Man. Anthony Campbell (F), Austin Peay, 6’6, 185, So, 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 50.0 FG%

Breakout Player.  Ivan Aska (F), Murray State, 6’7, 230, So, 10.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 51.6 FG%

Coach of the Year. Donnie Tyndall, Morehead State

Player of the Year. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State

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What You Need to Know:

  • The OVC loves its basketball as much as the ACC, Big 12 and Big East do; they just play on a much smaller scale.
  • The OVC is the eighth-oldest NCAA Division I conference and expanded in 2008 with the addition of SIU-Edwardsville.
  • This year the most dominant player in the league will be Morehead State junior center Kenneth Faried, a big man who could play in any league, and whose coach, Donnie Tyndall, is building a power on the footsteps of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Murray State and Austin Peay just may have the fiercest rivalry in all of college basketball, at least those not in a power conference, and have been at the top of the league for over a decade.  Senior guard Wes Channels will lead the Govs and senior forward Danero Thomas leads the Racers.

Predicted ChampionMurray State (NCAA Seed: #16).  The Racers have been on the verge of returning to their perch in the OVC and this should be the year they get back. But if they don’t in Billy Kennedy’s fourth season a change could be made.

Top Contenders:

  • Morehead State.  The Eagles win because of center Kenneth Faried, the most dominant player in the OVC hands down. Maze Stallworth’s and Demonte Harper’s play are key to the season
  • Austin Peay.  The Govs win because of the team’s experience in the OVC and making it to the NCAA Tournament three straight years. All the returners have played in at least one, while Wes Channels and Ernest Fields have played in all three. 

Top 6 RPI Boosters:

  • Nov. 9, 2009 - Murray State at California
  • Nov. 13, 2009 - Morehead State at Kentucky
  • Dec. 19, 2009 – Austin Peay at Kentucky
  • Dec. 22, 2009 - Murray State at Western Kentucky
  • Dec. 23, 2009 – Morehead State at Utah State
  • Dec. 27, 2009 – Austin Peay at Missouri

 Key Conference Games:

  • Dec. 5, 2009 and Feb. 25, 2010 – Morehead State at Murray State and return game.
  • Jan. 2 and Jan. 30, 2010 – Austin Peay at Morehead State and return game.
  • Jan. 9 and Feb. 6, 2010 – Murray State at Austin Peay and return game.
  • Jan. 14 and Feb. 13, 2010 – Eastern Illinois at Eastern Kentucky and return game.
  • Jan. 21 and Feb. 2, 2010 – Tennessee State at Jacksonville State and return game.

Digging Deeper.  Austin Peay is the OVC’s most decorated bridesmaid. The Govs have won the OVC Tournament four times, but have been in the championship game a total of 13 times. Murray State on the other hand has the OVC high with 13 titles, but the Racers haven’t made it to the finals since 2006 after winning it in 2002 and 2004.

Fun With KenPom.  The OVC is an offensively-focused league, with three teams last season (UT-Martin, Austin Peay and EKU) in the top 105 offenses in America.  EKU was actually #47 (although their defense was a horrific #312).  Defense on the whole clearly isn’t stressed, because only AP and Morehead St. finished among the top half in the nation in that regard. 

NCAA Tournament History.  The OVC has a long and distinguished history with the NCAA Tournament, sending its first team to the Dance in 1953 and winning a total of 20 games over the next thirty-five years.  The last twenty or so haven’t been as kind, with the only win since 1989 coming in last year’s Play-In Game (Morehead St. over Alabama St.).  The league’s overall record (21-60, .259) belies that its teams haven’t truly been competitive in its first round matchups with major conference teams through most of the 90s and 2000s. 

Final Thoughts.  The OVC has the same problems all small conferences have – not enough money to truly compete – and consequently will be awarded a #14, #15 and #16 seed annually in the NCAA Tournament. Until Morehead State beat Alabama State in the 2009 Play-In Game, the OVC had not won an NCAA Tourney game in 20 years.  But the league plays a fast, defensive-oriented style of basketball that purists will enjoy.

rtmsf (3774 Posts)


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