Belmont picked to win the Ohio Valley again; Bradshaw preseason POY

Rick Byrd has a veteran team chasing another 20-win season. (USATSI)

The Ohio Valley Conference is once again, seemingly, Belmont’s for the taking.

The league has announced its preseason awards, and Rick Byrd’s Bruins took in 21 out of the 24 first-place votes and is predicted to win the league. Belmont has proven to be one of the best and most consistent mid-major programs over the past decade, and this year could see Byrd’s team reach its eighth NCAA Tournament in 11 years.

Belmont is led by Craig Bradshaw, who appears on our list of the top 100 (and one) players in college hoops; Bradshaw was named the OVC’s preseason Player of the Year.

Belmont went 22-11 last season, 11-5 in league play and fell as a No. 15 seed to No. 2 Virginia in the first round of the NCAAs. This year’s group features four guys who started in the Big Dance.

Tennessee-Martin and Murray State also received first-place votes. Murray State lost its coach, Steve Prohm, to Iowa State. Matt McMahon is now running the Racers’ program.

2015-16 Preseason OVC 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).

East Division

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

West Division

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

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