Author: Matt Fargo - Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament kicks off on Tuesday, one of two tourneys getting underway early. The OVC regular season was won by Murray St. who ran away with the crown by three games over Samford as the Racers put together a ten-game winning streak to lock up the title. They are clearly the hottest team coming in but the other seven teams finished the season separated by just five games with the 2nd through 7th seeds separated by only three games.
The logjam in the middle means that anyone could challenge the Racers but the big question is whether or not anyone can actually create that challenge. One of Murray St.?s losses came at Eastern Illinois, a team that didn?t qualify for the postseason, leaving only Samford and Tennessee Tech as the other two teams to hand the Racers a conference loss. Samford closed the season with losses in four of its last six games so there is not a whole lot of momentum behind the Bulldogs.
Tennessee Tech was in the hunt midway through the season but the Golden Eagles also limped in with losses in six of their final 10 games. With the exception of Murray St.. Jacksonville St. is the hottest team entering the postseason with seven wins in its final 10 games. The Gamecocks locked down the 4th seed and in this tournament that is huge since the top four seeds all host the first round games on their home courts. The problem with Jacksonville St. is that of the four home teams, it has the worst home record.
Eastern Kentucky travels to Jacksonville to take on the Gamecocks and could be the most dangerous road team on Tuesday as it had the best road mark of the four traveling squads. Tennessee St. and Austin Peay finished close behind with their road records but those two will be facing Samford and Tennessee Tech who went 9-3 and 11-3 at home respectively. The Racers are the only double digit favorite in the opening round and that is no surprise as the other three games involve the six teams who can win on any given night.
Murray St. was the only OVC team to go undefeated at home in conference games but after Tuesday, that won?t be a factor. However, what will be a factor is that the Racers had the best road record of the conference teams as well. Samford, Jacksonville St. and Tennessee-Martin are the only three teams that finished in the black against the number with the Skyhawks being the only team getting points on Tuesday.
The four Tuesday winners head to Nashville on Friday for the semifinal round followed by the championship game on Saturday. It?s a neutral court for all teams as the final three games will be held at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.
Tennessee-Martin is 14-28 ATS as a road underdog of 10 or more points since 1997.
Murray St. is 5-16 ATS off a home win over the last 2 seasons.
Eastern Kentucky is 17-6 ATS in road games after a loss by 10 points or more since 1997.
Jacksonville St. is 12-3 ATS after a game where they covered the spread this season.
Tennessee St. is 15-4 ATS in road games revenging a home loss vs. opponent since 1997.
Samford is 9-2 under in home games after scoring 55 points or less over the last 2 seasons.
Austin Peay is 0-6 ATS after scoring 80 points or more this season.
Tennessee Tech is 16-6 ATS after one or more consecutive overs since 1997.
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