Belmont at Austin Peay
Winfield Dunn Center - Clarksville, TN
8:00 PM EST
One crisp spring Saturday in Nashville, we shuttled between two Music City arenas to watch two conference champions crowned -- first, the Austin Peay hoopsters took out Tennessee State to win the OVC crown, then two hours later Belmont destroyed Jacksonville to win its third straight Atlantic Sun title -- an incredible accomplishment considering the Bruins have played just 11 full seasons at the Division I level. Once in the Big Dance, both were granted pinky-toe-in-the-door No. 15 seeds. Belmont beat Duke without really beating Duke
, and Peay was laid out
Now that the season is about six weeks old, how are our champions faring? Austin Peay has already begun its title defense with two OVC road wins at Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri, and took their lumps in the games they were supposed to lose, like those at Louisville and Arkansas. Drake Reed
, the league's preseason player of the year, has lived up to the high expectations of SID's and local media by posting 20.4 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Like last year, however, the Govs' offense is definitely ahead of the defense... take a look at this ugly 39-point loss
to Stephen F. Austin over the weekend.
On paper, Belmont looks like a shoo-in for a fourth straight NCAA trip, what with all those seniors. Four fourth-year players, led by guard Alex Renfroe
(13.5 ppg), are scoring in double figures, and the Bruins split their first two A-Sun games before another BCS heartbreaker against Tennessee
on Saturday. And, as Tennessee mid-major fans know, these two teams have already played once this season. We here at TMM love the in-season home-and-home as a way to combat guarantee games, and the Peay's and B's put on a doozy of an opener back on Nov. 17 at the Curb. Austin Peay won a controversial
game of runs by two, the final margin being a foul call with .2 seconds left and the game tied, which gave APSU's Reed the opportunity to claim the game from the line.Basketball State Preview/Box
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