This is part 6 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country. We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.
Morehead St 10-6
Jacksonville St 9-7
Tennessee Tech 8-8
Tennessee St 8-8
Eastern Kentucky 5-11
Southeast Missouri St 9-7
Murray St 8-8
Austin Peay 7-9
Eastern Illinois 6-10
What a mess. First, even though they have east and west divisions, that doesn't impact tournament seeding. And while the league has 12 teams, only 8 make the conference tourney.
And then the format itself. Top 2 teams have a double bye to the semis, 3rd and 4th have a single bye to the quarterfinals. Convoluted structures! At least this tournament is 4 straight days, from Wednesday March 1 to Saturday March 4, at a neutral site in Nashville
1) Belmont vs. 4/5/8) Jacksonville St/Southeast Missouri St/Tennessee St
2) Tennessee-Martin vs. 3/6/7) Morehead St/Tennessee Tech/Murray St
OVC is RPI 23. However, Belmont is powering a lot of that, all the way up to 21-5, RPI 58. There's no Top 100 win, though, so don't get any ideas that they're at-large relevant. In fact, their best win is RPI 148. Much like Vermont, they'll be a test case for the selection committee on how much RPI matters compared to other metrics in the room when it comes to seeding. And I think they're a half-step behind Vermont. This feels like a 14 seed, doesn't it?
The rest of the league has been merely mediocre at best. They barely have one team (TSU) in the RPI Top 150. I think there's a fair chance for a different team in this league to avoid Dayton, but it's a possibility that it happens. It'll depend what other unexpected winners emerge. What doesn't help is 2nd place was just 10-6 in conference, so no one established themselves as a quality team.
As for the CIT, Jax State, Tennessee St, and UT-Martin are over .500. (Morehead has the 3 seed and is just 14-15!). I'd project TSU and UT-M in the CIT if I were still doing that kind of madness.