Ohio Valley Conference Championship
#1 Belmont vs. #3 Eastern Kentucky
March 8, 7 PM
Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Conference championships are always the best, but they're even better when they feature a rubber match.. Thus is the case in tonight's Ohio Valley Conference Championship between the conference's one seed Belmont and the three seed Eastern Kentucky.
These two teams first met on January 16 in Richmond where the Colonels came away with a 74-63 win over Belmont thanks to 18 points from Corey Walden. The Bruins didn't need to wait long for revenge though as they beat the Colonels 84-81 on January 25. J.J. Mann went off in that one for 34 points and 8 boards.
Combined in the first two match ups this year Belmont out-rebounded EKU 65-46. On the offensive end the Colonials are a team that likes to take one shot and make it count. Usually Jeff Neubauer's squad is trying to bomb it from three and set up their defense early. Despite their general philosophy the Colonels may need a big night from Eric Stutz who grabbed 11 boards versus the Bruins in Nashville earlier this year. In tournament wins over Southeast Missouri State and Murray State this week Stutz has posted 18 points and 11 rebounds, Neubauer will need more from him tonight.
Thus far in the tournament Corey Walden has been the man for the Colonials. Walden has 41 points and 9 steals in Eastern Kentucky's two wins. OVC First Teamer Glenn Cosey has also been having a solid tournament with 32 combined points in the Colonials' wins. EKU will need both guys to be firing on all cylinders to pull off a victory tonight.
Belmont has four main things going for them coming into this game. The Bruins have the OVC Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, are more fresh, and are playing a de facto home game in Nashville. Belmont only had to win one game to get in the championship game. They had no problem in dispatching the Morehead State Eagles 86-63 behind 16 points and 5 assists from OVC Player of the Year J.J. Mann. Five Bruins ended up in double-figures in Friday's game.
This game will tip-off at 7 PM tonight and can be seen on ESPN2. Will the Bruins be making their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament or can Eastern Kentucky get back to dancing for the first time since 2007?