Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ohio Valley conference tournament preview

This is part 4 of a 32-part series.

Murray St 16-2
Belmont 15-3
Austin Peay 12-6
Jacksonville St 11-7
Tennessee Tech 10-8
Tennessee St 10-8
Southeast Missouri St 8-10
Eastern Illinois 7-11
Eastern Kentucky 5-13
Tennessee-Martin 5-13
Morehead St 4-14

This one gets a bit weird. Only the top 8 play in the conference tournament, and SEMO got APR'd this year.  So SIUE won the tiebreaker for the 8th spot.

They play for four days, February 28 to March 3.  Why 4 days?  The double bye system is in place, top 2 teams with a double bye to the semis, 3 and 4 seeds with a single bye to the quarterfinals.  They also share sites with the women.  Evansville is the host city.

1) Murray St vs. 4/5/8) Jacksonville St/Tennessee Tech/SIUE
2) Belmont vs. 3/6/7) Austin Peay/Tennessee St/Eastern Illinois

The stakes:
Both Murray and Belmont are sporting decent RPIs, and Belmont actually owns a signature win at Middle Tennessee.  And at Western Kentucky.  Belmont is ceremonial CUSA champs this year.  Either of these teams could be 12, 13, or 14 seeds depending on what happens everywhere else.  Probably 13 with normal attrition in other conference tourneys.  (if you're wondering, Belmont has only 6 wins outside of Group 4, so put away those at-large thoughts)

Murray St has the better RPI and the league title, but the worse overall resume, for those scoring at home.  Belmont might actually make an intriguing NIT at-large candidate, if you're into those sort of things.

Further down, teams like Austin Peay and Jax State are in good shape for CIT/CBI bids, and even TTU and TSU are eligible for it.

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