The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament is officially underway, as it opens two games this March 1, 2017. The fifth seeded SE Missouri St. Redhawks take on the eighth seeded Tennessee St. Tigers, while the sixth seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles lock horns with the seventh seeded Murray St. Racers.
Despite the Ohio Valley Conference having twelve teams, only eight get a chance at getting to the big dance. Also, the top two teams in conference play get handsomely rewarded, as they don’t play until the semi-finals. In other words, they only have to win one game to make it to the tournament finals.
The schedule are as follows:
Wednesday, March 1 (first round), OVC Digital Network
Game 1: No. 5 Southeast Missouri vs. No. 8 Tennessee State, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: No. 6 Tennessee Tech vs. No. 7 Murray State, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 2 (quarterfinals), OVC Digital Network
Game 3: No. 4 Jacksonville State vs. Game 1 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: No. 3 Morehead State vs. Game 2 winner, 9:30 p.m.
Friday, March 3 (semifinals), ESPNU
Game 5: No. 1 Belmont vs. Game 3 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 6: No. 2 UT Martin, vs. Game 4 winner, 10 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 (championship)
Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Prediction: This is the Belmont Bruins tournament to lose. They are clearly the best team in the OVC, although I will admit that it’s been fairly competitive this year. However, the Bruins have been a juggernaut, going 15-1 in conference play. There only blemish came at the hands of the sixth seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles by 13 points on the road.
I can’t say that the Bruins have any real marquee wins, but they did test themselves out of conference. They played the likes of the Vanderbilt Commodores (14 points), Florida Gators (17 points), Middle Tennessee St. Blue Raiders (13 points) and Rhode Island Rams (9 points).
Anyways, according to Ken Pomeroy, the Belmont Bruins have the conference’s number one offense and defense. In nine of the sixteen conference games, the Bruins put up over 80 points, which means the three ball was thriving. The Bruins also held opponents in nine of the sixteen conference games to 70 or less points.
The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament games are taking place in Nashville, which is essentially home court advantage for Belmont Bruins who play in Nashville, Tennessee. And they’ve been dominant at home, going 12-1, only losing to a very good Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders squad. If the Bruins can hit the three ball, then this tournament will be a breeze. However, since they live and die by the three, a team with solid perimeter defense can absolutely contest them. Anyways, I got Bruins roaring back into the NCAA Tournament!