Sports, Thrill of Victory

OVC Tournament Preview: Can anyone take down Belmont?

The 2016 Ohio Valley Conference men’s tournament will take place March 2-5 at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville.

Eight teams are set to clash for the ultimate prize of claiming an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, and if the regular season taught us anything, it’s that there are several teams that have a great chance to lock up the OVC’s bid.

Let’s jump right into what you need to know heading into this year’s tournament.

Craig Bradshaw will look to lead Belmont to another OVC tournament title this week in Nashville. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Craig Bradshaw will look to lead Belmont to another OVC tournament title this week in Nashville. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

What to Know

In what should come as a surprise to no one, the Belmont Bruins enter the OVC tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Rick Byrd’s team captured the OVC regular season title yet again and is looking to make the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years.

But that will be much easier said than done.

UT Martin grabbed the No. 2 seed in this year’s tournament after an eight-game winning streak down the stretch. The Skyhawks did lose to Murray State to end the regular season, but it’s still clear that UT Martin seems to be playing its best basketball at the right time.

And having a double-bye into the semifinals doesn’t exactly hurt your chances.

Another team that heads into the tournament on a hot streak is Morehead State, with the Eagles winning straight entering the postseason. That streak was enough to allow them to lock up the No. 3 seed, as they’ll await the winner of the first round game between Murray State and Eastern Illinois.

Perhaps the most intriguing teams entering the tournament are Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

These two teams both knocked off Belmont during the regular season, and there’s a good chance that the Tigers and Golden Eagles will square off in the first quarterfinal game on Thursday. That’s exactly what will happen if Tennessee Tech can knock off Austin Peay in the first round.

After that? The winner of TSU/Tennessee Tech gets Belmont in the semifinals. That one could be fun.

So while the Bruins are undoubtedly the favorite heading into this year’s OVC tournament, there’s definitely several teams that could dethrone them.

Get your popcorn ready.

Tahjere McCall and TSU will be one of several teams trying to take down Belmont. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Tahjere McCall and TSU will be one of several teams trying to take down Belmont. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

How to Watch

All seven games of the OVC men’s tournament will be available for viewing.

The first round and quarterfinal games can be watched for free on the OVC Digital Network. The semifinals will be live on ESPNU, and the tournament final will air on ESPN2.

Of course, you can also head over to the auditorium and check out the action in person. Here’s all the ticket information that you need.

Also, the OVC women’s tournament will take place during the day. You can view the full bracket at OVCSports.com.

The Bracket

First Round (March 2)

No. 5 Tennessee Tech vs. No. 8 Austin Peay – 6 PM CT (OVC Network)

No. 6 Murray State vs. No. 7 Eastern Illinois – 8 PM CT (OVC Network)

Quarterfinals (March 3)

No. 4 Tennessee State vs. Game 1 Winner – 6 PM CT (OVC Network)

No. 3 Morehead State vs. Game 2 Winner – 8 PM CT (OVC Network)

Semifinals (March 4)

No. 1 Belmont vs. Game 3 Winner – 6:30 PM CT (ESPNU)

No. 2 UT Martin vs. Game 4 Winner – 8:30 PM CT (ESPNU)

Championship (March 5)

Semifinal Winner 1 vs. Semifinal Winner 2 – 5 PM CT (ESPN2)

Sports and Entertainment Nashville will be live at the OVC tournament all week. Follow us on Twitter (@SENashville and @theblakelovell) to stay updated on all the action!