NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two of the three teams from the Ohio Valley Conference who have never appeared in the NCAA Tournament will square off on Saturday night in the conference championship.
The winner will advance to their first-ever NCAA Tournament, and will get to experience the joys of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday as a part of the field of 68.
Inside the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday night at 8:00pm EST, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks will take on the regular season West Division leaders, the UT-Martin Skyhawks. It’s a slightly unexpected final pairing, as the Gamecocks eliminated the top-seeded Belmont Bruins in the semifinals.
Both teams have been playing some of their basketball at the right time. But, outside of the hardcore basketball fan, many won’t know much about the two teams taking part in the finale.
With the exhibition season in full swing, and coming to a close early this week, that can mean only one thing.
The 2016-17 college basketball regular season is just around the corner!
Things get underway Friday, November 11th at Noon EST with the first regular season game of the season, and there will be a plethora of talent on display across all 32 conferences all season long.
Before the season gets started, we decided to hand out some preseason hardware, in the form of our Conference Player of the Year award and All-Conference Teams.
Along with that, we have the College Court Report All-Americans, and the Mid-Major Player of the Year Preseason Watch List. Links to all of the conference awards and the Watch List can be found at the bottom of each article.
No 8-seed has ever won the OVC tournament title, but the Governors looked like a team that couldn’t be stopped.
Against the UT-Martin Skyhawks on Saturday, the Governors found themselves as the underdogs once again. The Skyhawks looked impressive in their tournament run, and knocked off the Morehead State Eagles in their semi-final showdown on Friday.
Only one of the two could represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament, and the Governors continues their Cinderella run to the big dance with another impressive performance.
After a 2-7 start to the season, people were starting to write off the UT-Martin Skyhawks before they gave them a fair shake in 2015-16. Yes, they lost four straight to open the year, and then had another three-game losing streak to their name, but things can turn around in a heartbeat. That is especially true in the college basketball world, and the Skyhawks entered Tuesday afternoon’s tilt riding a four-game winning streak.
They were looking to extend their streak when they went on the road to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls. The Owls entered with a 2-10 record, and were stuck in a five-game losing streak. Florida Atlantic was searching for answers, and they were hoping they could put an end to their streak on Tuesday afternoon against the Skyhawks.
On the heels of a successful 2014-15 season, the Tennessee-Martin (UTM) Skyhawks have found themselves on the wrong end of some close game to open the 2015-16 campaign. Three of their four losses have come by 7 points or less, including a four-point defeat at the hands of Oral Roberts.
Sunday night brought forth another opportunity for the Skyhawks to take home their first victory of the season, this time taking on the James Madison Dukes. The trend of close-games would continue, as the game was tied with under 10 seconds to go.
On Sunday, the Skyhawks would come out on the right side of the final score, thanks to some late-game heroics from their star senior.
Coming off a year where a team wins just 8 games, very rarely does that team come back the next year and pass the 20-win mark and make a deep post-season run.
Nobody told the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks that it was tough to do, and they proved pretty well everyone wrong in showing us all that it can indeed be done.
Last season, the Skyhawks went 21 – 13 overall, a 13-win improvement from the season prior. They advanced to the semi-finals of the CIT, thanks in large part to newcomer Twymond Howard.
This season, fans are hoping for more of the same from the Skyhawks. They got a taste of post-season play, and are hungry for another appearance and run by their team. With a roster full of experience and talent, the Skyhawks could be the beneficiaries of a certain conference powerhouse taking a step back this season. Time will tell as to how they handle the opportunity in front of them.