Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings: (as of 2/7)

Team of the Week –  Rivals Murray State and Morehead State share the honor this week as both teams played admirably in their games.  Murray continued its reign of dominance over the OVC, squeaking past hated rival Austin Peay 65-63 in the Regional Special Events Center while Morehead roared to a 84-75 win over Tennessee Tech to sweep the season series and capture 13 of their last 14 games. The two teams will square off on Feb. 25 in Morehead, Ky., in a game that could determine conference supremecy.

Player of the Week – In a closely contested battle, Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried edges Tennessee-Martin guard Marquis Weddle for the title of Player of the Week in this edition. Although Weddles’ play (24 ppg and 6 rpg) over the week was superb, Faried claimed the award by showcasing an all-around game more suited for the NBA than the OVC, notching a dominant performance over the weekend against Tennessee Tech to raise his averages for the week to 19 points and 14 boards. During the stretch Faried recorded his 17th and 18th double-doubles of the season including his ninth straight.

Game of the Week – Murray State 65, Austin Peay 63. When rivals collide, crazy things tend to happen. This edition’s game of the week was just another example as it took every ounce of magic the Racers had to keep the team’s conference mark unblemished for one more game, edging the Govs on a last second shot by junior guard Isacc Miles. Although Miles provided the heroics, Danero Thomas provided the steady hand as the senior forward from Louisiana paced the Racers with 23 points and 11 rebounds. On the other side, Anthony Campbell played well for Austin Peay, nearly recording a double-double with 20 points and eight boards. 

League Notes

ESPN released its schedule of games for its Bracketbuster series on Feb 1.  All 11 OVC schools will participate in for the fifth straight season with games taking place on Feb. 19 and 20. OVC schools are 16-29 all-time in the event, including a 3-7 record last season.

  • Oral Roberts at Austin Peay
  • Northern Illinois at Eastern Illinois
  • Winthrop at Eastern Kentucky
  • Presbyterian at Jacksonville State
  • Morehead State at Illinois State
  • Morgan State at Murray State (TV – ESPNU)
  • Southeast Missouri at Miami (Ohio)
  • SIU Edwardsville at Cal State Fullerton
  • Tennessee State at Central Michigan
  • Tennessee Tech at Appalachian State
  • UT Martin at Ball State

Team Roundups

  • Murray State.  The Racers continued their unbeaten streak through conference play, knocking off Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay in dramatic fashion.  Against Tech, MSU started off slow but a second half surge allowed them to pull away easily behind B.J. Jenkins’ 17 point outburst. Jenkins also added five rebounds in the rout.  The Austin Peay game was a different story altogether though as the Racers struggled to put together any rhythm and fell behind early.  Isacc Miles, who struggled to score the entire game, put the team on his back in the final two minutes, scoring seven points including a dagger at the buzzer to knock off the Govs.  Danero Thomas was a workhorse throughout the game for Murray State, recording 23 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Morehead State.  This past week was a good one for the Eagles as they swept the season series against Tennessee Tech while also extending their win streak to 13 of their last 14 games.  Kenneth Faried was a monster down low for Morehead State as the forward from New Jersey did everything but get the team water.  Against the Golden Eagles he was especially dangerous, cleaning the glass for 17 rebounds while adding 26 points, but the game before was a relataively pedestrian one for the big man as he recorded only 12 points and 11 boards. Teammate Maze Stallworth picked up the slack though, dropping 26 points and 11 rebounds.  Farried’s two double-doubles push his season total to 18 and nine straight.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The past week was also good for the Colonels and Papa Oppong as they jumped out to two wins behind the guard’s stellar play.  In the games Oppong put on a shooting clinic for the opposition dropping two games of double-digit scoring in which he recorded 20 and 19 points respectively.  The highlight of the week as the Colonels knocked off Jacksonville State on a Justin Stommes layup with 21 seconds remaining.  EKU escaped to play another, notching their seventh straight home win against the Gamecocks.
  • Austin Peay.  Despite dropping the heartbreaker to Murray, the week wasn’t all that bad to the Governors.  Forward Anthony Campbell lit up the nets for 20 points on six of 10 shooting against the Racers while adding eight rebounds.  He was equally impressive from the floor in Austin Peay’s win over Tennessee Martin and he notched 13 points and 10 boards.  Center John Fraley had his way with the Skyhawk defense in the win as he cleaned the boards for 14 rebounds and added 13 points as well.
  • Tennessee Tech.  And now to the bad…  Very few things went right for the Golden Eagles this week as they dropped tow straight games.  Kevin Murphy was one of the lone bright spots in the 76-58 shellacking at the hands of Eastern Kentucky as the guard netted 16 points.  There are no moral victories in conference play so although the margin against Morehead State was a little smaller, a loss is still a loss in the books. Jud Dillard did everything he could to help Tech in the Morehead game, but sometimes that not enough as his 25 points and 12 rebounds just couldn’t get them over the jump. Maybe next week.
  • Jacksonville State.  Another 0-2 week for the Gamecocks was made a little bit worse by a close loss at the hands of EKU on Saturday.  Nick Murphy was a monster in the first game, a 94-75 loss to Morehead State but the problem is he was the only one to show up, his 22 points and 12 rebounds just not enough to offset the point differential.  Jacksonville State rebounded nicely against EKU but ran out of gas in the end as a crucial play by Eastern’s Justin Stommes put them down one and a timely charge call on the next possession ended their chances at a W. Trenton Marshall scored 19 points and added five boards in the loss.
  • Eastern Illinois.  They fall in the bottom part of this list because they only played one game this week.  That one game was a win, but coming against one of the weaker teams (SEMO) in the league doesn’t help.  Jeremy Granger roughed up the Redhawks for 19 points on nine of 15 shooting and James Hollowell added 10 points and 5 rebounds for the victors.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  Things got worse for the Redhawks as their only win this week came against a team technically not even in their league…literally.  After a loss to the Panthers, SEMO took on lowly SIU-Edwardsville, currently 3-20 overall, to claim an ugly win. Sam Pearson scored 11 points and added four rebounds in the loss while Marland Smith netted 17 points and five rebounds in the win.
  • Tennessee State.  Tennessee State doesn’t fall this low because of a lack off effort, just a lack of production.  Despite Robert Covington’s outburst of 19 points and eight rebounds the Tigers failed to match up with Murray State, and squandered an early lead before falling by 22 (76-54).  Jacquan Nobles and Will Peters did everything they could against Tennessee- Martin and their combined 39 points (Nobles-20, and Peters-19) helped TSU squeak past Martin 74-68.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle is an animal; his team…not so much.  Despite two 20-point games (23,25) against quality opponents in Austin Peay and Tennessee State the Skyhawks just couldn’t pull off a win in the end. The loss of a player like Lester Hudson would hurt any team but Martin must find a way to help out Weddle if they expect do anything come tournament time.  
  • SIU Edwardsville.  SIU- Edwardsville is doing a valiant job despite the odds stacked against them.  The talent on their team will get better and better in future seasons but they aren’t there yet and it’s no ones fault.  Nikola Bundalo did his best against SEMO, notching nine points and 13 rebounds, but Edwardsville found itself overmatched in every facet of the game and went home with a tough 68-49 loss.
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

James Horne of the Clarksville (TN) Leaf-Chronicle is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Current OVC Standings (as of Jan. 2, 2010)

  1. Murray State 2-0 10-3
  2. Austin Peay 2-0 8-6
  3. Jacksonville State 1-0 5-6
  4. Eastern Kentucky 1-1 8-5
  5. Eastern Illinois 1-1 7-5
  6. Morehead State 1-1 6-6
  7. Southeast Missouri State 1-1 4-8
  8. Tennessee Tech 0-1 6-6
  9. Tennessee State 0-2 3-10
  10. UT Martin 0-2 2-9
  11. SIU Edwardsville% 0-0 2-12

% – SIU Edwardsville joined the OVC in July 2008. The program is reclassifying to Division I and not playing a full OVC schedule until 2011-12. They are not eligible for the OVC Championship or postseason play until 2012-13.


PRIME-TIME BATTLE. The New Year begins with a top-notched showdown in the OVC and it will all be televised on ESPNU when defending tournament champion Morehead State (6-6, 1-1 OVC) welcomes in Austin Peay (8-6, 2-0 OVC) for a game at 8 p.m. (CST) Saturday night.  It’s not lost on anyone involved that the Eagles upset the Govs 67-65 in two overtimes to win the 2009 OVC crown last March.  And it helps that Morehead State and Austin Peay were picked to finish first and third (by the conference and RTC) in the preseason.  Morehead State junior center Kenneth Faried, the Preseason Player of the Year, continues to dominate the league by averaging 16.5 points (third in the OVC) and 12.2 rebounds a game (tops in the OVC).  He will be challenged by the Govs senior guard Wes Channels, whose 15 points a game is sixth in the league.

ONLY ONE? By the time Tuesday rolls around Murray State (10-3, 2-0 OVC) could be the last unbeaten left.  The Racers don’t play Saturday and, while not an easy task, face OVC-winless UT Martin at 7 p.m. (CST) Monday.


Monday, December 28

  • Morehead State 66, @South Dakota 64
  • UMKC 63, @SIU Edwardsville 54

Tuesday, December 29

  • Eastern Kentucky 76, Morgan State 62 (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
  • @#16 Ole Miss 90, Jacksonville State 75
  • @Saint Louis 60, Eastern Illinois 42

Wednesday, December 30

  • @UT Martin 71, Westminster 59
  • Chattanooga 68, Eastern Kentucky 54
  • Murray State 82, @SIU Edwardsville 51
  • @Tennessee Tech 95, Union College 46
  • @Alabama 77, Tennessee State 65


Saturday, January 2

  • Jacksonville State at Eastern Illinois, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee State at Eastern Kentucky, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee Tech at Southeast Missouri, 7:45 p.m.
  • Austin Peay at Morehead State, 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday, January 4

  • Austin Peay at Eastern Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
  • Tennessee State at Morehead State, 6:30 p.m.
  • UT Martin at Murray State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee Tech at Eastern Illinois, 7:30 p.m.
  • Jacksonville State at Southeast Missouri, 7:45 p.m.

Tuesday, January 5

  • Milwaukee at SIU Edwardsville, 7:00 p.m.


  • Austin Peay at Morehead State: Rematch of 2009 OVC Tournament Championship Game won b y Morehead 67-65 in two overtimes.
  • UT Martin at Murray State: Racers could end up as lone OVC undefeated so early in New Year.


OVC. APSU’s Wes Channels and UT Martin’s Marquis Weddle were named Co-OVC Players of the Week.

  • AUSTIN PEAY GOVS (8-6, 2-0 OVC). Govs went 5-2 in December with losses at No. 3 Kentucky and Missouri. Govs lead series with Morehead State 48-47.
  • EASTERN ILLINOIS PANTHERS (7-5, 1-1 OVC). Panthers 5-2 on road in non-conference.
  • EASTERN KENTUCKY COLONELS (8-5, 1-1 OVC). Leads OVC in 3-point field-goal percentage at 41.4 percent (137-of-331 in 13 games)
  • JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS (2-4, 0-1 OVC). First-place Gamecocks went 0-3 on road in non-conference
  • MOREHEAD STATE EAGLES (6-6, 1-1 OVC). Looking to beat APSU fourth straight time.
  • MURRAY STATE RACERS (6-1, 1-0 OVC). Could be lone league undefeated by Tuesday.
  • SOUTHEAST MISSOURI REDHAWKS (4-8, 1-1 OVC). The Redhawks broke a 27-straight conference game losing streak, then longest active streak in the nation, with a 74-66 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 5, 2009. Still only one home win.
  • TENNESSEE STATE TIGERS (3-10, 0-2 OVC). Only OVC team with one win at home, on road and at neutral site.
  • TENNESSEE TECH GOLDEN EAGLES (6-6, 1-0 OVC). Only team to win at least three at home and on road in non-conference (Murray State five at home, three on the road is the other)
  • UT MARTIN SKYHAWKS (2-9, 0-2 OVC). Skyhawks 0-6 on road in non-conference.
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009


James Horne of the Clarksville (TN) Leaf Chronicle is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Current OVC Standings (as of Dec. 4, 2009)

  1. Murray State  (1-0, 6-1)
  2. Eastern Illinois  (1-0, 4-2)
  3. Austin Peay  (1-0, 4-4)
  4. Morehead State  (1-0, 2-3)
  5. Tennessee Tech  (0-0, 3-5)
  6. Jacksonville State  (0-0, 2-4)
  7. Eastern Kentucky  (0-1, 5-2)
  8. Southeast Missouri State  (0-1, 2-6)
  9. UT Martin  (0-1, 1-4)
  10. Tennessee State  (0-1, 1-7)
  11. SIU Edwardsville  (0-0, 0-6)


LOOS ASCENDS: Undoubtedly the biggest story in the OVC this week is about a coach.  Austin Peay’s Dave Loos just won the 400th game of his 24-year career in the Govs’ 76-71 overtime win over Southeast Missouri on Dec. 3. That made him 400-318 all-time.  With a victory over EIU on Dec. 5, Loos would tie would tie Cal Luther – former coach at Murray State and UT Martin – for the most victories in OVC history with 319. Loos has been with Austin Peay for 20 seasons and owns a 318-265 record. Loos is already Austin Peay’s all-time winningest coach.

EAGLES VS. RACERS: The two teams picked to win the OVC this year meet for the first time in Murray, Ky., on Dec. 5.  Both defending champion Morehead State and Murray State were the preseason choice to win the league as both gained 10 first-place votes and 154 points.  The Racers have actually won six in a row since a season-opening loss five-point loss to No. 12 California. Murray State has won those five games by an average of 32.2 points.  Morehead State junior Kenneth Faried had his third double-double in four games this season, scoring 12 points and pulling down 15 rebounds in 34 minutes of play in a loss to Kent State on Nov 29. Faried has had a double-double in every game except the team’s season-opening loss at No. 4 Kentucky.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #24 – Ohio Valley

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2009


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

ovc logo

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.

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OVC Season Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2009

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC.  The OVC Tournament begins at on-campus venues on Tuesday before moving to Nashville, TN, for the final two rounds.

Regular Season Wrap-Up

How can you not be happy for UT Martin’s Bret Campbell?  After years and years of finishing at the bottom of the OVC, Campbell has led the Skyhawks to the top of the OVC.   Martin’s 79-65 win over Morehead State on Saturday night clinched the school’s first-ever OVC title and just the second 21-win season in school history (first-ever in Division One.)

Campbell is really one of the good guys in college coaching.  He’s paid his dues and at times really struggled to get the UTM program growing.  He caught a real break when he was able to land a talent like Lester Hudson and caught another break when Hudson decided to return for his senior season.  Campbell was able to go out and find a great supporting cast and now UTM is on the verge of making their first-ever NCAA Tournament if they can capture the OVC Tournament title this week.

That will be much easier said than done.

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Championship Week is Actually Two Weeks, Starting Tomorrow

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2009

We all know that the calendar turned to March a little over 36 hrs ago, but did you know that we’re already on the verge of conference tournament season?  ESPN’s ballyhooed Championship Week doesn’t start for another seven days, but some of the smaller conferences are ready to tip it off and crown a champion.  Immediately, as in…  Tomorrow. 

Yes, the Big South, OVC and Horizon are all playing elimination games within the next 24 hours, and we’re quite sure that you weren’t aware of that.  The Patriot League begins Wednesday, and there will be ten other conferences that will start their tournament extravaganzas this week, with five of those finishing before Saturday is through.  In order to keep up with it all, we produced this schedule for our own internal use that might as well be made public for you guys also. 


Also keep in mind that RTC Live will be attending the festivities this week in St. Louis, Richmond and Las Vegas for the MVC, CAA and WCC Tournaments, respectively.  Should be a blast at all three of those high mids.

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Checking in on the… OVC

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2009

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and OVC Conferences.

Ohio Valley Conference Standings

  1. Austin Peay     5-1      9-7
  2. Morehead St.     5-1      8-9
  3. Eastern Illinois     3-2      6-9
  4. Tenn-Martin     3-3      10-6
  5. Eastern Kentucky     3-3      9-7
  6. Tennessee St.     3-3      5-11
  7. Jacksonville St.     2-3      8-6
  8. Tennessee Tech     2-3      8-7
  9. Murray St.     2-3      7-8
  10. SE Missouri St.     0-6      3-14

OVC league play is in full-swing and things couldn’t be more muddled.

At this point, here is what we know:

SEMO is the league’s worst team.  There’s no question about it.  EIU went to SEMO and won by 20 over the weekend.  Now let’s not come down too hard on the Redhawks.  They do only have seven scholarship players and went through an absolute mess with the whole Scott Edgar situation.  Zach Roman is doing a marvelous job just keeping this program’s head above water.  After understanding SEMO, this league is as up in the air as any league in the country.

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Checking in on the… OVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2008

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC and MAC Conferences.

On paper, this might seem like the same old Ohio Valley Conference.  But the league, in fact, is actually off to a pretty good start.  In Thursday’s RPI, the OVC had three teams in the top 116.  Last season, only two teams in the OVC finished in the top 200 (Austin Peay #64 and Murray State #179.)  I know it’s VERY early in the season, but Jacksonville State (#65) and Murray State (#93) are both top 100.  It might not be much to most mid-majors, but it’s a sign that OVC is moving in the right direction.  Baby steps.  But the reality check is Eastern Illinois is #343.  That’s #343 out of 343.  Dead last in case you’re still a bit confused.  Tennessee State is not much better at #333.  Like we said, baby steps.  As a league, they’re hovering around #23 in the RPI, which is a major upgrade from last year’s #28 finish.  In case you were wondering, the best the league has finished in the past decade was #18 in 2000 and 2001.  Murray State has had the highest RPI finish this decade at #58 in 2004, which was also the last year the league had two teams finish in the top 100 (Austin Peay #94).  Enough with the RPI, here are some quick hits from the past couple weeks in the OVC.

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Checking in on the… OVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and Ohio Valley Conferences. 

(ed. note – this post was originally scheduled for publication on Friday 11/28, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to delay publication until today.  Please accept our apologies.)

Hard to believe, but OVC conference play begins next Thursday.  That’s right, less than a month into the season, we’ve already got conference play!
Not a lot of time to get a handle on how this league is shaping up, but here are some quick hits from the first few weeks:

Tennessee State (advanced to OVC Finals last year) lost their opener to Cumberland University, an NAIA school.  Not the start Cy Alexander was hoping for.  If there was a bright spot, sophomore Gerald Robinson, Jr. (one of league’s best young players) tallied 31 points.  He’s leading the league at 25.0 points per game so far.  Good news, TSU rebounded to win their last two over Northern Illinois (last-second layup) and Miles (Robinson scored 36 in that win.)  The Tigers will get Belmont on Monday before opening league play next weekend.  Coming up in mid-December is a brutal four-game stretch where they face Alabama, Kentucky, Marshall and Georgia Tech, all on the road, in 13 days.  Yikes!

UT Martin is off to an auspicious start.  The Skyhawks torched Maryville, lost to Tennessee, beat Elon and then lost to Arkansas State.  This is supposed to be a team that will challenge for the league title, mainly thanks to the play of All-American Lester Hudson and All-OVC guard Marquis Weddle.  Hudson is averaging just about 25 points per game, but in the two losses he and Weddle have been dreadful with their shooting.  Against Tennessee and Arkansas State, the two are a combined 26-85.  That’s barely 30%.  They rest of the team is 17-53 in those two losses.  It’s obvious that how Hudson and Weddle go, so go the Skyhawks.  UTM better hope these two are on a lot more than they are off or they better find another source of offense.  UTM will be tested at USC Friday night before opening league play with a trip to Death Valley (Morehead State and EKU).

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A Brief Conference Primer Interlude…

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2008

We’ve made it through eighteen of our thirty-one season conference primers so far, and our correspondents continue to top each other with their breadth of knowledge and coverage of the one-bid leagues.  So we want to thank them and once again highlight their fantastic work over the past few weeks by anchoring their primers in one post here, so that you (and we) can easily access them.  Going forward, we’ll primarily be dealing with the traditional multiple-bid conferences or conferences that should expect to see multiple bids this season.  Conference #13 will go up tonight, and we’ll be counting down to tipoff on Nov. 10, when the #1 conference primer will be unveiled. 

Also, keep in mind that our correspondents will continue to bring RTC comprehensive coverage of each league throughout the season.  Each of the above leagues will have an update post every two weeks, beginning in mid/late November. 

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Conference Primers: Single Bid Conference Recap

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

So we figure we’ll be done with these conference primers by Christmas 2008 Thanksgiving, which is about the time most people start keeping an eye on college hoops anyway.  In the meantime, we thought we’d take a moment to recap the seventeen single bid conferences we’ve already reviewed.  Keep in mind, our definition of a single bid league is a conference that does not regularly compete for multiple NCAA bids (even if they occasionally get multiple bids).

31.  SWAC
30.  MEAC
29.  Northeast
28.  Atlantic Sun
27.  Ohio Valley
26.  Southland
25.  America East
24.  Big South
23.  MAAC
22.  Ivy
21.  Patriot
20.  Sun Belt
19.  Big Sky
18.  Summit
17.  Southern
16.  Big West
15.  MAC

Some brief Single Bid Conference superlatives while we’re at this point:

  • Best Team. Davidson (#9 Seed NCAA) – this team has a shot at the Sweet 16 this year
  • Possible Spoiler. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt) – everyone loves WKU in the Sun Belt, but ULM has an excellent team returning
  • Low Major All-Americans.
    • Stephen Curry (Davidson) – POY
    • Bo McCalebb (New Orleans)
    • Kyle Hines (UNC-Greensboro)
    • Jason Thompson (Rider)
    • Alex Harris (UCSB)
    • Hon. Mention – Courtney Pigram (ETSU), Arizona Reid (High Point), Courtney Lee (W. Kentucky), Tim Pollitz (Miami (OH))
  • Conference We Wish Were on TV More Often. America East. We dunno why, other than we’ve enjoyed watching teams like Albany, Vermont and BU over the past few years.  Seems like a fun conference.
  • Conference We Wish Would Re-Organize (or Implode). Sun Belt.  Despite a long and proud history, there are simply too many teams (13) located in too many places (from Denver to Miami).  This conference has lost its bearings.
  • Conference Champ You Can Count on to Cover the Spread in NCAA Tourney 08Big West.  Although Ivy league champs tend to stay close, Las Vegas knows that, so we like the Big West instead, where teams not named Long Beach St. have lost by an average of only 7 pts during the 2000s.
  • Conference Champ You Can Count on to NOT Cover the Spread in NCAA Tourney 08Summit.  In its last nine first round games, the Summit champ has lost by an average of 22 pts.

And here’s how our Consensus Conference Picks are shaping up (RTC choice in red):

Consensus Conf Picks 11.07.07

Since last time, we added the CBS Sportsline picks as well as the conference media days selections for each league.  We had three more leagues came on with a full consensus (Patriot – Holy Cross; Sun Belt – W. Kentucky; Southern – Davidson) to join the OVC (Austin Peay), while the Big Sky (Montana) was only one vote short.  The Big West (UCSB) and MAC (Kent St.) were solidly in one team’s corner, while the Summit (IUPUI) and Ivy (Cornell) weren’t far behind.   We’re still not buying that Ivy selection of Cornell, though.

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Conference Primers: #27 – Ohio Valley

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish.

  1. Austin Peay (20-9) (16-4)
  2. Eastern Kentucky (17-11) (14-6)
  3. Murray St. (17-10) (13-7)
  4. Tennessee Tech (17-13) (12-8)
  5. Southeast Missouri (15-14) (11-9)
  6. Eastern Illinois  (13-14) (10-10)
  7. Samford (12-16) (9-11)
  8. Tennessee St. (10-17) (8-12)
  9. Morehead St. (9-18) (8-12)
  10. Jacksonville St. (10-17) (6-14)
  11. Tennessee-Martin (3-23) (3-17)

OVC Logo

WYN2K.  The OVC is a league that has been incredibly up-and-down depending on a given year.  In the last five years its RPI has hovered between the 19th and 25th best conference, and its Sagarin rating between 16th and 26th.  As a testament to its herky-jerkiness, no league champion has received the same seed as the prior year’s champion for the last eight years (13/15/14/13/12/15/14/16).  But if there is one trend worth noting, it is that the league’s overall profile appears to be dropping.  After a seven-year period from 1998-2004 where the league champion averaged a #12.7 seed, the last three seasons have resulted in an average of #15.0.   This is supported by the reality on the court, as no OVC team has won an NCAA Tourney game since the 80s, when Austin Peay (1987), Murray St. (1988), and Middle Tennessee St. (1989) comprised a three-year string of first round upsets. 

Predicted Champion. Austin Peay (#15 Seed NCAA).  This was the easiest pick of the previews yet.  “Let’s Go Peay” returns all five starters (including OVC POY Drake Reed) from a team that was the regular-season champion in 2007, but who lost on a buzzer beater to Eastern Kentucky in improbable fashion.  6’5 forward and resident muscle man Fernandez Lockett is likely another first-team all-OVC selection.   

Others ConsideredEastern Kentucky was the second-best team in the OVC last season, and Jeff Neubauer’s methodical style (310th in tempo nationally) led to EKU rankings near the top of the nation in effective FG% (18th) and two-point FG% (8th).  In other words, the Colonels consistently take and make good shots.  If any team is ready to supplant Austin Peay again, it’s likely to be EKU.  Murray St. is always in the mix in this conference (20 straight winning seasons), and we expect this year to be no different.  The Racers finished strong in 2007 winning eight of their last ten, and return many of their key players from last season.  Another team that finished very strong last year was Tennessee Tech, who won twelve of their last fifteen games as their coach Mike Sutton continued to arduously work his way back from Guillain-Barre Syndrome.       

Games to Watch.  If they OVC Championship game is anything like last year’s, then it should most definitely be on your March viewing calendar. 

  • OVC Championship Game (03.08.08). ESPN.

RPI Booster Games.  Last year the only BCS opponent that the OVC managed to defeat was Northwestern (by Tennessee Tech) at a neutral site.  Otherwise, the league was 0-20 against BCS teams.  We’ve identified several opportunities for an OVC squad to pull an upset this year to help the league’s overall RPI. 

  • Tennessee Tech @ Rutgers (11.09.07)
  • Austin Peay @ Vanderbilt (11.10.07)
  • Georgia Tech @ Tennessee St. (11.11.07)
  • Murray St. @ Mississippi St. (12.01.07)
  • Samford @ Florida St. (12.02.07)
  • Tennessee Tech @ Oregon St.  (12.16.07)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids.  Absolutely no chance. 

Neat-o Stat.  Reigning OVC Player of the Year Drake Reed was the first sophomore to win the honor since Popeye Jones did so back in 1990 at Murray St.   It’s unclear whether Reed is related to Jones (see below). 

Popeye Jones family 2

64/65-Team Era.  The OVC has gone 3-24 (.111) over the era.  As mentioned above, the glory days were the late 80s, when the OVC won a first round NCAA game each year from 1987-89.  The league hasn’t won a game since, although it has had a couple of very close calls (#2 Duke 81, #15 Murray St. 78 – 1997; #1 Michigan St. 75, #16 Murray St. 71 (OT) – 1990).   

Final Thought.   The OVC is definitely a top-heavy league this year.  There are three or four teams that can realistically win the NCAA bid, while the others are fairly noncompetitive.  Even with the lack of a balanced league, there is likely only one team with the experience and talent for us to consider it as possible first round upset material – Austin Peay.  But as we saw last year, even with the best team in the OVC, there’s no certainty that the Governors can win the conference tournament in its own back yard (47 miles from Clarksville, TN, to this year’s site again, Nashville, TN).   

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