Nashville, Tenn. - In a vote of Ohio Valley Conference head men's basketball coaches and sports information directors, Tennessee State University men's basketball was predicted to finish seventh in this year's preseason poll.
The Tigers received 81 points finishing ahead of three conference teams. The announcement came during the 2010 OVC Basketball Media at the Municipal Auditorium this afternoon.
OVC Commisioner Beth DeBauche unveiled the basketball championship's logo and announced that the Municipal Auditorium, located in downtown Nashville, will serve as the site of the 2011 OVC Basketball Championship. Previously the first round had been played on campus sites and this year all eight teams will play in the venue.
The tournament has also switched to a merit-based format where the No. 1 and 2 seeds will receive a double bye to the semifinals while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will receive a single bye to the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be carried live on ESPNU with the championship game being broadcast to a national audience on ESPN2.
In the preseason polls, Murray State received 18 first-place votes and was picked as the favorite for the 2010-11 season. Last season Murray State won OVC-record 31 games on its way to the OVC regular season and tournament championship as well as a NCAA Tournament first round victory over No. 4 seed Vanderbilt.
Murray State received 162 total points and was followed next by Morehead State (2 first-place votes, 146 points), who was a consensus No. 2 pick. Eastern Illinois was picked third (123 points) and was followed by Austin Peay State (107), Eastern Kentucky (92), and Tennessee Tech (85). Jacksonville State (51), Southeast Missouri (41) and UT Martin (20) rounded out the poll.
It marks the 14th time in the last 22 years that Murray State has been picked the preseason favorite and third in a row (they were tabbed co-favorites with Morehead State last season).
Morehead State's Kenneth Faried was named OVC Preseason Player of the Year as there were no Tigers named to the All-OVC Preseason Team. The last time TSU did not post a player on the preseason squad was 2007.
For the second-straight year the Tigers return just four players who saw action the previous season. This season the four returners are a strong core, which includes sophomores Robert Covington (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds/game) and Jacquan Nobles (11.2 points, 68 3-pointers), who were each OVC All-Newcomer selections last season.
Also back is junior guard Wil Peters (9.6 points, 3.1 assists/game) and sophomore guard Tashan Fredrick (3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds/game). Head coach John Cooper did bring in six newcomers who will be eligible to play this season, along with three transfers who will sit out this season, to help bolster a team that was 6-12 (eighth place) in the OVC last season.
The 2010-11 season kicks off with two exhibition contests when the Tigers host Trevecca Nazarene on Nov. 2 and Carson-Newman on Nov. 8. The regular season begins on Friday, Nov. 12 with the Tigers matching-up against Mississippi State from the SEC in Starkville, Miss. The first OVC game will take place on Thursday, Dec. 2 at Eastern Illinois.
2010-11 Preseason Predicted Order of Finish
1. Murray State (18 first-place votes) - 162
2. Morehead State (2) - 146
3. Eastern Illinois - 123
4. Austin Peay - 107
5. Eastern Kentucky - 92
6. Tennessee Tech - 85
7. Tennessee State - 81
8. Jacksonville State - 51
9. Southeast Missouri - 41
10. UT Martin - 20
2010-11 All-OVC Preseason Men's Basketball Team
Ivan Aska, Murray State
Anthony Campbell, Austin Peay #
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State *
Demonte Harper, Morehead State
B.J. Jenkins, Murray State *%
Tyler Laser, Eastern Illinois *
Isacc Miles, Murray State *
Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
Nick Murphy, Jacksonville State
Justin Stommes, Eastern Kentucky
Preseason OVC Player of the Year: Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
* - 1st team All-OVC team in 2009-10
# - 2nd team All-OVC team in 2009-10
% - OVC All-Newcomer team in 2009-10