Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Preview

With seven teams finishing within three games of each other at the top of the standings, there are obviously several squads capable of running the table and getting the Ohio Valley Conference's automatic bid. Tennessee Tech is on a 4-game winning streak after losing four of their previous six. They got the first seed in the tourney with a 12-4 record. The Golden Eagles have the best player in the league in 6-6 Willie Jenkins, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and is second in assists and steals. His post partner is Derek Stribling, who is the only other player to score in double figures. On the perimeter, Milone Clark, Keyon Boyd, and Anthony Fisher provide a little bit of everything. 6-7 Amadi McKenzie leads the conference in field goal shooting. Eastern Kentucky is also on a 4-game winning streak and received the second seed in the tournament at 11-5. The Colonels may have the most talented frontcourt in the league with two of the top three rebounders in the OVC in forwards Alonzo Hird and Michael Haney, who combine for almost 25 points and 16 rebounds per contest. They also both shoot over 63 percent from the field. Point guard Matt Witt is second in the league in assists at over 6 a game; he also leads the team in scoring at almost 15 per game. Zach Ingles provides double figure scoring from the wing. Murray State tied Eastern Kentucky at 11-5 but got the third seed in the tourney. The Racers have won 5 of 6 and have the deepest club in the conference. They have a lot of balance, which explains only two double figure scorers, but two guys in the conference top 5 in assists. Keith Jenifer (Virginia) and Trey Pearson (Mississippi) are both transfers from major conference schools and form a dynamite backcourt, along with scorer Darnell Hopkins. Isiah Redding and Shawn Witherspoon give decent scoring and rebounding on the interior. Samford had the conference lead until they lost four of their last six. That's not the best way to enter a conference tournament where most of the teams are on a hot streak. 6-6 J. Robert Merrit leads the way for the Bulldogs, pacing the team in scoring at 16.1 per game, rebounding at 4.1 per contest (how can someone lead a team in rebounding at four per game? that's atrocious), steals and blocks. Randall Gulina gives more scoring from the perimeter. With no consistent production from a big man, Samford will get knocked out by anyone with a solid post player. Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay, and Tennessee State all finished at 9-7 but that does mean they are all playing equally as of now. After winning 7 in a row, SEMS has lost three of their past four. They still have some of the most explosive players in the league with Dainmon Gonner leading the league in scoring and Reggie Golson leading the OVC in rebounding. Three other players are also scoring in double figures for the Indians. Austin Peay received the 5 seed but have lost three straight games entering the tournament. Anthony Davis, Maurice Hampton, and Zach Schalder form a very potent trio on offense, but other than those three, no one else has been producing lately. Tennessee State got the #7 seed but might give Eastern Kentucky a tough game. The Tigers have won three of their past four, including one over Murray State and also own a win over Eastern Kentucky already. Cincinnati transfer Rod Flowers and St. John's transfer Eric King form a very tough forward combo. King has been averaging 20 points per game over the last four. They combine for 23 points and 15 boards every night. Bruce Price is the scorer from the outside, while Kareem Grant, Wayne Arnold, and Roshaun Bowens can all step up when they need to. They are my sleeper pick in this conference. Eastern Illinois is the only team in the tournament without a realistic chance of winning the conference. Josh Gomes and Emmanuel Dildy are an explosive duo, though.
Prediction: Tennessee Tech has not lost to either of the top 3 seeds, and has only lost two games to the teams in the conference tournament. My money is on them, although the winner of #2Eastern Kentucky and #7Tennessee State can make a run. You also can't count out Murray State, although I would go with Tennessee Tech.

No comments:

Post a Comment