Long Island is the three-time defending tourney champ but a 9-20 regular season record gives them a bleak outlook for the tournament.
Predicted Champ: Belmont (23-8, 14-2 OVC)
The Bruins won 11 of their final 12 to finish the regular season as East Division champ. They should have a lot of confidence if they end up facing the West Division champ due to a three-point home win over Murray State in February and a two point overtime win over the Racers in last year’s conference title game. Belmont won back-to-back Atlantic Sun tourney titles in 2011 and 2012, then won the OVC title last March in their first year in the league. Playing tourney host in Nashville gives them the home-court advantage they will need to continue their amazing postseason streak.
Murray State (18-10, 13-3 OVC) Murray State is no stranger to punching their ticket to the Big Dance but the Racers haven’t been able to solve the Belmont puzzle since the Bruins come into their conference. Expect the Racers to put up a fight in what appears to be a two team tournament on paper.
Projected Tournament MOP: JJ Mann, Belmont
All Tournament Team:
G – Cameron Payne, Murray State (15.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.6 apg)
G – Craig Bradshaw, Belmont (15.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 31. apg)
F – JJ Mann, Belmont (18.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
F – Tyler Stone (19.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg)
F – Jarvis Williams, Murray State (14.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg)