Starting tonight in Nashville, tournament play begins in the Ohio Valley Conference. Three Kentucky teams are vying for the OVC title. This year’s competitors include frontrunner Murray State, the veterans of Morehead State, and Eastern Kentucky University, which just squeaked into post season play. EKU goes into the OVC tournament, fresh off a victory over Eastern Illinois. Colonel’s coach Jeff Neubauer says that must-win game had a tournament feel. “I think it could be good thing when you stare the end of the season right in the eye and then play really well, I think that can be really healthy for a basketball team,” said Neubauer
A team that’s been pretty healthy all year is Murray State, ranked nationally for weeks, with just one loss this season. Still, Murray first year head coach Steve Prohm realizes each team in the tournament is striving to play its best ball.
“They all worry me. They all worry me because they each bring their own certain advantages and disadvantages to playing them,” said Prohm.
If Murray wins this week’s OVC tournament, Prohm believes his team will have earned a number four seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Morehead State is the defending Ohio Valley champ. The Eagles ended the regular season with four straight league wins. Morehead coach Donnie Dyndall says they’ve developed a winning attitude.
“Our program is to the point now where we expect to win. That’s not being brash or arrogant, but when you’re at a place six years and been to two of the last three NCAA tournaments and won a couple games, your guys expect to win and certainly our coaching staff expects to win,” added Dyndall.
Eastern Kentucky opens the tournament tonight in a contest against Southeast Missouri State. The Colonels beat the Skyhawks earlier this season. Morehead awaits the winner of the Austin Peay -Jacksonville State game. Murray plays Friday.
The Ohio Valley Conference represents the fourth oldest Division One basketball championship. The University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville begin post season play next week.