(KFVS) - The Murray State men's basketball team was picked as the preseason favorite for the West Division of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Southeast Missouri State University was ranked fourth in the West Division.
Belmont was picked as the preseason overall favorite for the 2015-16 season in a vote of Ohio Valley Conference head men's basketball coaches and sports information directors
Belmont is the defending OVC Tournament Champions.
A year ago Murray State became the fifth team in OVC history to complete an undefeated Conference season as they were a perfect 16-0, according to the OVC. The Racers won 25 games in a row, breaking into the Top 25 polls in the process, before losing on a last second shot in the OVC Tournament championship game. The team missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament but won two games to advance to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) before losing to Old Dominion on a desperation half court shot at the buzzer. The Racers lost four starters from that team including NBA Lottery Pick Cameron Payne who is now with the Oklahoma City Thunder. First-year head coach Matt McMahon (who was an assistant coach with the program for the last four years) does return senior forward and preseason All-OVC selection Jeffery Moss (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists/game last season) and welcomes several key newcomers including Texas transfer Damarcus Croaker and junior college point guard Bryce Jones.
Rick Ray, who was the head coach at Mississippi State for the past three years, takes over as the head coach at Southeast Missouri State this season. Ray has seven players returning from last year's team including preseason All-OVC selection Antonius Cleveland. The junior averaged 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists/game in 30 contests a season ago. Isiah Jones is the lone senior on the Redhawks team for 2015-16. Jones averaged 9.8 points and 3.1 rebounds/game last season. The Redhawks have qualified for the OVC Tournament field in each of the past five years but have not advanced past the quarterfinals during that time period.
The 2015-16 season kicks off with an exhibition contest on November 2. The first regular season games will be played on Friday, Nov. 13.
The 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament will be held March 2-5 at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
2015-16 Preseason OVC Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
Overall OVC Champion: Belmont (21 first-place vote)
Other Teams Receiving Overall First-Place Votes: UT Martin (2), Murray State (1).
1. Belmont (22 first-place votes) – 132 points
2. Morehead State (1) – 105
3. Eastern Kentucky – 88
4. Tennessee Tech – 67
5. Jacksonville State – 52
6. Tennessee State - 48
1. Murray State (15 first-place vote) – 125 points
2. UT Martin (9) – 115
3. Eastern Illinois - 88
4. Southeast Missouri - 72
5. Austin Peay - 57
6. SIUE - 35
2015-16 All-OVC Preseason Men's Basketball Team
The 2015-16 OVC Preseason Men's Basketball team is headlined by Belmont senior Craig Bradshaw who was named the OVC Preseason Player of the Year.
Murray State and Southeast Missouri each had one selection.
Southeast Missouri State junior guard Antonius Cleveland (10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds1.8 assists/game) and Murray State senior forward Jeffery Moss (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists/game) made the All-OVC Preseaon Men's Basketball Team.
2015-16 Preseason All-OVC Men's Basketball Team
- Alex Anderson, UT Martin
- Trae Anderson, Eastern Illinois
- Brent Arrington, Morehead State
- Craig Bradshaw, Belmont
- Evan Bradds, Belmont
- Antonius Cleveland, Southeast Missouri
- Chris Horton, Austin Peay
- Twymond Howard, UT Martin
- Cornell Johnston, Eastern Illinois
- Jeffery Moss, Murray State
Preseason Player of the Year: Craig Bradshaw, Belmont