The field for the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Championship Presented by Kentucky Wild has been set on the final day of the regular season.
Prior to the start of the season, due to the fluid nature of the pandemic, contingency plans were put into place if full conference schedules could not be completed for men's and women's basketball this season. Therefore this year's bracket is a traditional format (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc.) as opposed to the merit-based bracket (involving byes for the top four seeds) which had been used since 2011. This was a one-year measure only.
Belmont will be the No. 1 seed after finishing OVC play 18-2 and winning its seventh OVC regular season championship in the nine years they have been members of the league. Belmont, 24-3 overall on the season, set the OVC record for consecutive conference victories (28) this season. The Bruins will open play on Wednesday against No. 8 seed SIUE.
Morehead State is the No. 2 seed after winning the most Conference games (17) in program history. The Eagles are 20-7 overall and earned their highest tournament seed since also being No. 2 in 2010-11 (when they won their last tournament crown). MSU will open up on Wednesday against No. 7 seed Southeast Missouri.
Eastern Kentucky also set a program record with 15 OVC victories this season. The Colonels are 21-6 overall and ended Belmont's 28-game OVC winning streak on Thursday. EKU will open OVC Tournament play on Thursday against No. 6 seed Austin Peay.
Jacksonville State earned a Top 4 seed for the fourth time in the past five years. The Gamecocks are 17-8 overall and 13-6 in OVC play. They open play on Thursday night against No. 5 seed Murray State.
The field is rounded out No. 5 Murray State, No. 6 Austin Peay, No. 7 Southeast Missouri and No. 8 seed SIUE.
This year marks the fourth-straight year the event has been held at the Ford Center, which opened in 2011 and is located in the core of Evansvilleís downtown district. The event is scheduled to be at the venue through at least 2023.
This event marks the 58th time the OVC Men's Basketball Championship has been held; it is the fourth-oldest Division I basketball championship tournament.
This year's first round can be seen on ESPN+, the industry-leading sports streaming service that offers fans in the U.S. thousands of live sports events, original programming not available on ESPNís linear TV or digital networks and exclusive editorial content from dozens of ESPN writers and reporters. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ has grown to more than 10.3 million subscribers. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for $5.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) or as part of a bundle with Disney+ and ad-supported Hulu ($12.99/month). Games aired on an ESPN network will also be available through the ESPN App, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider. All events will be available for replay on the ESPN App.
The semifinals will air live on ESPNU while the championship game will air live on ESPN2 and live nationally on the Westwood One Radio Network.
This year the OVC has followed guidance from the NCAA and the OVC Medial Advisory Group and worked extensively with the Mayorís Reopen Evansville Task Force, the Vanderburgh County Health Department, Deaconess Hospital and the Ford Center to put into place additional health and safety protocols to keep the participants, workers and fans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the protocols are masks being required for all attendees in addition to spectator seating being limited and divided into socially-distanced pods. For complete details visit www.OVCSports.com/Protocols.
Additionally, as part of an ongoing commitment to safety and security, aligning with the best practices at major entertainment and athletics venues, there is now a "Clear Bag Policy" in effect at the Ford Center. Fans are encouraged to visit www.OVCSports.com/ClearBag for complete details on the policy.
2021 OVC Men's Basketball Championship Presented by Kentucky Wild (Ford Center - Evansville, Ind.)
First Round - Wednesday, March 3
Game 1 - #1 Belmont vs. #8 SIUE, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
Game 2 - #2 Morehead State vs. #7 Southeast Missouri, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
First Round - Thursday, March 4
Game 3 - #4 Jacksonville State vs. #5 Murray State,
7:00 p.m. (ESPN+)
Game 4 - #3 Eastern Kentucky vs. #6 Austin Peay, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Semifinals - Friday, March 5
Game 5 - Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 7:00 p.m.
Game 6 - Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Championship - Saturday, March 6
Game 7 - Semifinal Winners, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2/Westwood One)
All Times Central