The Ohio Valley Conference released their 2014-2015 preseason poll on Tuesday, and you should not be surprised by the two teams sitting atop the rankings: Belmont in the East and Murray State in the west.
Belmont has consistently been one of the best mid-major programs in the country over the course of the last decade under Rick Byrd. They’ve won a regular season title in each of the last five seasons — the latter two of which have been in the OVC after Belmont changed leagues — and seven of the last nine years. It’s not quite Bill Self-ian, but at this point, you don’t bet against Byrd or Belmont.
In the west, Murray State once again has climbed to the top of the conference thanks to the play of freshman point guard Cameron Payne, who was one of the best mid-major players in the country last season. The Racers brings back just about everyone of significance from last season’s West Division title. The Racers were also picked to be the outright OVC champs.
Oh, and Payne? He was named OVC Preseason Player of the Year. Again, that’s not a surprise.
Anyway, here’s the list of the full preseason poll and all-OVC teams:
2014-15 Preseason OVC Men’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Belmont (16 first-place votes) – 125 points
2. Morehead State (4) – 103
3. Eastern Kentucky (4) – 102
4. Tennessee Tech – 71
5. Jacksonville State – 52
6. Tennessee State – 40
1. Murray State (22 first-place vote) – 132 points
2. Southeast Missouri (2) – 109
3. SIUE – 77
4. Austin Peay – 70
5. Eastern Illinois – 64
6. UT Martin 40
Overall OVC Champion: Murray State (15 first-place votes)
- Other Teams Receiving Overall First-Place Votes: Belmont (7), Eastern Kentucky (1), Morehead State (1)
Preseason OVC Player of the Year: Cameron Payne, Murray State
2014-15 Preseason All-OVC Men’s Basketball Team
- Jarekious Bradley, Southeast Missouri
- Craig Bradshaw, Belmont
- Reece Chamberlain, Belmont
- Chris Horton, Austin Peay
- Cameron Payne, Murray State
- T.J. Sapp, Murray State
- Myles Taylor, UT Martin
- Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky
- Angelo Warner, Morehead State
- Jarvis Williams, Murray State