2012 Conference Tournament Breakdown: The Ohio Valley Conference

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2012 Conference Tournament Breakdown: The Ohio Valley Conference
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Steve Prohm has been a BIG winner in 2011-2012

The Shakedown

The Ohio Valley Conference tournament is one that people with definitely want to keep on eye on. Last year Morehead State took the automatic bid by winning the conference tournament and went on to defeat Louisville in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year, the Ohio Valley boasts one college basketball's best stories, the Murray State Racers. With Murray State being a lock, this conference could get two bids if someone is up to the challenge to knock of the Racers in the conference tournament. Who could that team be? Let's take a look!

The Breakdown

1. Murray State 28-1 (15-1 Ohio Valley)

If you have followed college basketball this year, you know a thing or two about the Murray State Racers. They started off a season's best 23-0 before dropping a game to Tennessee State. The Racers also played in critical bracket buster game last week in which they knocked off No.16 St Mary's in convincing fashion. Despite the Racers dominance during the regular season, this will still be a great tournament to watch. Murray State has seven conference games decided by single digits which means they will be challenged in the tournament. 

2. Tennessee State 19-11 (11-5 Ohio Valley)

Tennessee State earned the second seed in the OVC. A very strong 2011-12 campaign has the Tigers sitting in great shape as they will have a two-round bye. Tennessee State appears to be the top contender of Murray State. The Tigers knocked off the Racers 72-68 on February 7. Tennessee State has won 11 of its past 13 games and looks to junior forward Robert Covington (18.1 ppg) to take it deep into the conference tournament. While there are no guarantees in conference tournaments, I would love to see a Tennessee State vs Murray State rematch for the title.

Who Will Win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament

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3. Morehead State 17-14 (10-6 Ohio Valley)

Morehead State also comes into the Ohio Valley tournament on a roll. Morehead has won five out of its last six conference games. The Eagles were a top story in last year's NCAA tournament as they knocked off the fourth seed Louisville Cardinals before losing to Richmond in the round of 32. Morehead benefited from only having to play Murray State (lost by six) and Tennessee State (lost by five) once this season. It has proved over the course of those two games that it is ready to compete with anyone in the conference. I like Morehead going far in the conference tournament but am interested to see if it can win three games in three days.

4. Tennessee Tech 18-12 (9-7 Ohio Valley)

Tennessee Tech is the fourth seed for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. The Golden Eagles have also been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season. They knocked off Tennessee State and Morehead State in January but recently got blasted against Eastern Illinois, a team that failed to qualify for the conference tournament. Depending on which team shows up to play, Tech could win a game or two in the conference tournament but will struggle to win four games in a row.

5. Southeast Missouri State 14-15 (9-7 Ohio Valley)

Southeast Missouri State is in free fall mode. Just two weeks ago the Redhawks were third in the conference and challenging for the double bye. Just two weeks later, they are loses of four straight and six of their last eight. The Redhawks face off with Eastern Kentucky in the first round, a team that beat them earlier this season. With the down hill trend and a tough first round opponent, I don't think Southeast Missouri State will be playing in March.

Morehead State Looks to Dance again in 2012

6. Austin Peay 12-19 (8-8 Ohio Valley)

Austin Peay could summarize its season as a season of streaks. The Governors grabbed the sixth seed in the Ohio Valley tournament but is a real threat to do some damage. Austin Peay lost its first nine games of the season before going on a three game win streak. After the win streak, it lost four in a row and followed that up with another four game win streak. After trading wins and losses in its next two, it lost five straight, followed by three more wins. The good news for the Governors is that they are currently on that three game win streak, its just a matter of how far they can extend it.

7. Jacksonville State 14-17 (8-8 Ohio Valley)

Jacksonville State sneaked into the Ohio Valley tournament with an 8-8 league record. Having won four of their last five, the Gamecocks went from being on the outside looking in, to the seventh seed in the tournament. Since January 19, the Gamecocks are 8-3 and are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Their first round game against Austin Peay could be a thriller as these two teams both look to carry their current momentum into March.

8. Eastern Kentucky 16-15 (7-9 Ohio Valley)

Eastern Kentucky grabbed the last bid in the conference tournament. The Colonels are a long shot in the OVC, but are just as capable as any of these teams of winning a few games. They may be the last team in, but I wouldn't be shocked if they were the last team standing. The Colonels get a good draw in Southeast Missouri State for their first round game before having to play Tennessee Tech, a team that beat them twice this season. I'm not sure what it is, but my gut says look out for the Governors.

Will Steve Prohm Stay at Murray State after this Season?

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9. SIU-Edwardsville 9-17 (6-10 Ohio Valley)

* Did not qualify for Ohio Valley Conference Tournament

10. Eastern Illinois 12-17 (5-11 Ohio Valley)

* Did not qualify for Ohio Valley Conference Tournament

11. Tennessee Martin 4-27 (0-16 Ohio Valley)

* Did not qualify for Ohio Valley Conference Tournament

The Takedown

Here is how I see the OVC tournament playing out.

First Round

No. 8 Eastern Kentucky over No. 5 Southeast Missouri

No. 7 Jacksonville State over No. 6 Austin Peay

Second Round

No.8 Eastern Kentucky over No. 4 Tennessee Tech

No. 3 Morehead State over No. 7 Jacksonville State

Semi-Finals

No. 1 Murray State over No. 8 Eastern Kentucky

No. 2 Tennessee State over No. 3 Morehead State

Championship

No. 1 Murray State over No. 2 Tennessee State

Champion: Murray State Racers (30-1 4 Seed in NCAA Tournament)

The Final Buzzer

I am very interested to see how the double bye effects a lot of the conferences that are choosing to use them. However, in the OVC, I don't see it being too much of an issue as I believe we will get the rematch of Tennessee State and Murray State. It's also important for you fans of the bubble teams, as a Tennessee State win would most certainly take away an at large from a bigger conference team. This tournament is one that people need to keep their eye (Texas, Northwestern, Miami and USF) on in hopes that Murray State takes the only bid in the Ohio Valley Conference.

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