by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I’m using my ratings and Bill James’ log5 formula to estimate the chances of each participating team advancing to a particular round of its conference tournament.
Ohio Valley Conference
Location: Nashville (Municipal Auditorium)
Dates: March 5-8
Chance of bid thief: zero
Current kPOY: J.J. Mann, Belmont
Qtrs Semis Final Champ 1 Belmont 100 100 77.6 53.1 2 Murray St. 100 100 52.5 20.1 3 E. Kentucky 100 74.4 39.9 16.6 4 Morehead St. 100 69.2 18.1 7.9 6 SE Missouri St 64.0 18.8 6.1 1.5 5 Tennessee Tech 57.0 19.0 2.9 0.8 8 SIU-E 43.0 11.8 2.2 0.5 7 E. Illinois 36.0 6.8 1.4 0.2
Belmont and Murray State are in rebuilding years after losing Ian Clark and Isaiah Canaan, respectively, among others. But both have still been good enough to win their respective divisions of the OVC. The Bruins are still no slouch as they successfully defended their national two-point shooting title, even improving on last season’s mark by making 57.6 percent of their shots inside the arc against D-I foes, which included a whopping 58.9 percent in conference play. Likewise, the Racers specialize in offense which is why the regular season meeting between these two titans resulted in 195 points (Belmont won 99-96 in regulation).
However, even with the double-byes for the division champs, there’s about a 60 percent chance the final is not Belmont and Murray State. The most likely party-crasher is Eastern Kentucky who took VCU to overtime earlier in the season. The Colonels’ aggressive defense has continued to force turnovers with regularity (fourth-highest TO% in the country) but has felt the effect of the new rules interpretations (tenth-highest foul rate).
As with the Big South, you can expect scoring in this event. The OVC was the most offensive-minded conference in the nation and the third-fastest. Eastern Kentucky scored 1.18 points per possession in conference play and didn’t even lead the league! Or finish second! Murray State and Belmont each scored a tick more. I’m giving Belmont semi-home status since the Bruins are playing so close to campus.