The Austin Peay Governors and Eastern Kentucky Colonels meet in the first-round of the Ohio Valley Conference on Thursday night. This will take place at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. It will take place on a neutral court, so neither will get to enjoy any advantage in this one.
Speaking of court advantage, I think we can put to bed that fans make a difference when it comes to college basketball and sports in general. It’s more about routines being disrupted, and having to travel putting visiting teams at a disadvantage more than the fans doing anything. Most teams struggled on the road this season, just like is the case during a normal year.
With conference tournaments firing up in March, home court is going to be thrown out the window for neutral courts. A lot of wacky stuff can happen in these smaller conferences. A long shot winning isn’t totally surprising. There are six teams left in the tournament after Belmont eliminated SIUE, 78-61, and Morehead State edged out Southeast Missouri State by a score of 61-54.
So, the notion of one of the longest shots in the conference winning the tournament is dead in the water. The No. 8 and No. 7 seeds are gone from the Ohio Valley Tournament. Our first upset of the tournament would be No. 6 Austin Peay against No. 3 Eastern Kentucky. If Eastern Kentucky can fend off Austin Peay, then No. 8 to No. 6 are all out of the tournament quickly.
I’m going Austin Peay a reasonable opportunity to win this game. The oddsmakers agree with me, because they have the Governors as just a two-point underdog. That would not constitute much of an upset if the No. 6 seed wins in this spot. The Governors finished with a record of 14-12 in the regular season.
They closed out the season on a three-game losing streak, so this wasn’t the right time to go cold, though. Austin Peay is coming off a 75-67 loss against Jacksonville State on February 27, which came after an upset as a 8.5-favorite against Tennessee Tech, 81-76. They are going to have to want to get up and down the floor against an Eastern Kentucky team that can shoot. Head below for our free Austin Peay vs. Eastern Kentucky pick on March 4, 2021.
Austin Peay Governors vs. Eastern Kentucky Colonels NCAA Betting Odds:
Austin Peay vs. Eastern Kentucky Prediction:
Eastern Kentucky was a dangerous team to tame for defenses all season in the OVC. If the Colonels get into a groove, they can be very difficult to throw off. They have been consistent in that regard as well. Through their 21-6 run in the conference, Eastern Kentucky has scored an average of 82.9 points per game for tenth in the NCAA. In their last five games on the road, the Colonels averaged 84.8 points per game, so a neutral court shouldn’t bother them much.
Through their last five games, Eastern Kentucky has netted 83.6 points per game. They’ve pretty well scored in that 80-90 point range consistent this season. I can’t see much changing for them against Austin Peay in their opening game in the OVC Tournament. Austin Peay beat Eastern Kentucky at their own game on February 4. The Governors shot the lights out for 94 points in a 94-79 win. They knew that it was going to be necessary to play fast and not let up offense.
That’s exactly what the Colonels were able to do with authority. On a neutral court in a tournament game, I could see Eastern Kentucky responding nicely offensively, though. Their defense has been beatable, which Austin Peay was able to discover in the regular season meeting exactly a month ago. Eastern Kentucky allowed an average of 74.2 points per game through the season.
That was good for 272nd in the NCAA. In the first meeting this season, Eastern Kentucky won by a score of 80-75 on January 2, so they took a split in the regular season. This is likely another highly entertaining contest that could go either way. Despite Austin Peay as the No. 6 seed, they could get hot from the field again and knock off the Colonels. I lean towards a high-scoring game in this one, with the OVER getting there.