Conference Tournament Primer: Ohio Valley ConferencePosted by Adam Stillman on March 5th, 2014
It’s day three of Championship Fortnight and with three more conferences tipping off today, what better way to get you through the next two weeks of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s conference tournaments. Today, the Big South, NEC and OVC get started.
Dates: March 5-8
Site: Nashville Municipal Auditorium
What to expect: A battle royale between top-seeded Belmont and second-seeded Murray State. Belmont earned the OVC’s automatic bid in the Bruins’ inaugural season in the league last year, while Murray State took those honors the year before. They look to be on a title-game collision course, and either could be a threat to advance in the Big Dance.
Favorite: Belmont. Move over Murray State, Belmont is the new king of the Ohio Valley. The Bruins won the regular season title for the second straight season, thanks to a 14-2 league mark. Murray State finished at 13-3, and remember, Belmont won AT North Carolina in mid-November.
Darkhorse: Eastern Kentucky. The third-seeded Colonels have been a pain in Belmont’s side all season long. They beat Belmont and home and played the Bruins to within three points on the road. Glenn Cosey scores 18.8 PPG and could lead Eastern Kentucky to a surprise title.
Who wins: Belmont. The Bruins advertise as an offensive juggernaut, ranking first in the nation by connecting on 57.6 percent of its two-point shots. The Bruins aren’t much worse from beyond the arc, connecting on 39.4 percent of their threes, good for 12th in the country. Belmont topped Murray State by three at home in the teams’ only meeting this season. It would be quite a treat to see the match-up again in the finals.
Player to watch: J.J. Mann, Belmont. Mann has really stepped up his senior season, upping his scoring average from 10.5 PPG to 18.4 PPG from a year ago. The 6’6″ forward connects on 39.5 percent of his three-pointers and also grabs 4.8 rebounds per game.
Bubble Implications: None.