March Madness is here! As some of the power 5 conference teams finish up their regular season, postseason play begins for some of the mid-majors. Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
#5 Tennessee State vs. #8 Morehead State
#6 Eastern Illinois vs. #7 Jacksonville State
#4 Eastern Kentucky vs. #5 Tennessee State/#8 Morehead State
#3 Austin Peay vs. #6 Eastern Illinois/#7 Jacksonville State
#1 Belmont vs. #4 Eastern Kentucky/#5 Tennessee State/#8 Morehead State
#2 Murray State vs. #3 Austin Peay/#6 Eastern Illinois/#7 Jacksonville State
Who will win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament?
Aram: #1 Belmont (24-7, 15-3 in the OVC)
Dylan Windler and Belmont were upset in the Conference Championship game by Ja Morant and Murray State last year. This season, Belmont will be seeking their revenge. Nick Muszynski and company have been fantastic this season. Expect them to make some noise in the OVC and NCAA Tournaments.
Pat: #1 Belmont (24-7, 15-3 in the OVC)
The Bruins are scorching hot heading into March, and I see no reason for them to slow down. Belmont averages more than 80 points per game and lead the nation in assists. With their unselfish style of play and a plethora of shooters to rely on, the Bruins are a safe pick to take home the OVC title.
TJ: #1 Belmont (24-7, 15-3 in the OVC)
Why is Belmont going to win? They’ve won their last 10 heading into the tourney and you never want to play a hot team in the postseason. They also own an 11-5 winning road record proving they can play anywhere, something other favorites Murray State and Austin Peay State lack. The Bruins are led by sophomores Adam Kunkel and Nick Muszynski and you best believe they have last year’s conference tournament final loss to Murray State running around in the back of their minds
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #3 Austin Peay (20-11, 14-4 in the OVC)
They are ranked 3rd in the Ohio Valley Conference, but given the playoff format, they are definitely a dark horse candidate. I’m looking for Terry Taylor, who has nine 25+ point games this season, to light it up and cause havoc once they meet Murray State in the Semis.
Pat: #6 Eastern Illinois (16-14, 9-9 in the OVC)
The sixth seeded Panthers are quite a long shot to cut down the nets in Evansville, but they know how to score the rock. They’ve also pulled a few upsets and have thrived in the underdog role this season. If they start hitting shots, no one is going to want to face them in this tournament.
TJ: #4 Eastern Kentucky (15-16, 12-6 in the OVC)
Look at the way Eastern Kentucky is progressing throughout the year. You watch this team in December and you think yikes, but they’ve rallied around Coach Hamilton this year. They play hard and fight for every conference game that has led to a 12-6 record. The Colonels could shock some teams and can change the minds of those that believe this is a three team race.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Nick Muszynski, Sophomore C/F – Belmont
Since Pat and TJ will be talking about Brown and Taylor, I’ll bring up Muszynski. He has a nice touch around the rim and has slowly been progressing that outside shot. He projects as a great college player for four years, but there’s definitely some potential for an NBA look down the line.
Pat: Terry Taylor, Junior G – Austin Peay
Terry Taylor is a very talented player with a unique skill set. The 6’5 guard leads the conference in both scoring and rebounding, averaging a double double. Taylor is very strong and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He’ll have to have a big tournament for Austin Peay to win a title.
TJ: Tevin Brown, Sophomore G – Murray State
Take a look at Tevin Brown. The 6-5 Guard for the Racers has put up 17 ppg on 44.8% shooting from the field and 41.5% from three. Brown is a little light at 175 pounds and may not possess elite quickness, but he is a sharpshooter from deep who does a lot of damage off ball. He excels at getting his feet set for many C&S opportunities and possesses NBA range.