There's no obvious best team in the Ohio Valley Conference this March.
Belmont finished with a 12-4 conference record and the top seed in this week's league tournament, but are the Bruins obviously better than the rest of the field? Not necessarily.
They won the OVC East and the top seed in the playoff by virtue of beating Tennessee Tech in their second-to-last game, but Belmont's NCAA Tournament dreams came crashing down in dramatic fashion on Friday. Austin Peay snuck into the tournament as the eighth and final seed, but the Governors went blow-for-blow with Belmont, eventually coming out on top in an overtime thriller.
This continues the running theme of unpredictable OVC tournaments -- last year, Murray State ran the table in the regular season, only to be upset by the final round. Austin Peay took out second-seed Tennessee-Martin for the conference's auto-bid on Saturday.
The OVC Tournament is a somewhat exclusive affair. The conference has 12 teams in two six-school divisions, but just eight in total qualify for the playoff. Once they're in, the tournament favors the top seeds, with Nos. 1 and 2 getting double byes into the semifinal round and only needing two victories to take the whole thing. Nos. 3 and 4 get a bye into the quarterfinals, while 5-8 and 6-7 games determine who else rounds out the quarters. The tournament site is the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
2. Tennessee Martin
3. Morehead State
4. Tennessee State
5. Tennessee Tech
6. Murray State
7. Eastern Illinois
8. Austin Peay
The entire bracket is here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, March 2 (First Round)
Game 1:. No. 8 Austin Peay 92, No. 5 Tennessee Tech 72
Game 2: No. 6 Murray State 78, No. 7 Eastern Illinois 62
Thursday, March 3 (Quarterfinals)
Game 3: No. 8 Austin Peay 74, No. 4 Tennessee State 72
Game 4: No. 3 Morehead State 75, No. 6 Murray State 66
Friday, March 4 (Semifinals)
Game 5: No. 8 Austin Peay 97, No. 1 Belmont 96 (OT)
Game 6: No. 2 Tennessee-Martin 83, No. 3 Morehead State 70
Saturday, March 5 (Championship)
Game 7: No. 8 Austin Peay 83, No. 2 Tennessee-Martin 73