Ohio Valley Conference basketball teams will play 18 conference games in 2017-18 and beyond. The OVC is yet to officially announce the change, but multiple sources confirmed the move on Monday to WPSD Sports.
The OVC has been playing 16 conference games since the 2010-11 season. When the conference moved to 12 teams with the addition of Belmont in 2012-13, the OVC moved to a pair of six-team divisions. Moving forward, divisions will be eliminated and conference standings and tournament seedings will now be listed one through 12.
While the divisions are no more, division principles will still be applied to conference scheduling. In the past, the OVC West Division included Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, UT Martin, Southeast Missouri State, and SIU Edwardsville. The OVC East Division included Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Tennessee State, and Tennessee Tech.
In the new scheduling format, teams will still play home-and-home games with their former division rivals. They will also play two home-and-home series with teams from the opposite division on a rotating basis. For example, Austin Peay could have a home-and-home series with Belmont and Eastern Kentucky in 2017-18 and play the other four East Division teams one time; in 2018-19, APSU could play Jacksonville State and Morehead twice and the other four teams once; and then in 2019-20 it could be Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech twice with the other schools once. With seven home-and-home series in conference, this is as close to round-robin scheduling as the league would get right now.
Most significantly, this move will eliminate two non-conference games OVC schools need to find and will guarantee one more Division I home game for the 12 member schools.
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