Belmont preseason favorite to win 3rd straight OVC title

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The Belmont Bruins are the preseason favorite for a third straight year to win the Ohio Valley Conference title in a vote by the league's coaches and sports information directors.

Belmont, winner of four of the past five OVC regular season championships, earned 18 of 24 first-place votes in balloting released Tuesday. The Bruins received 235 total points ahead of Jacksonville State, the defending OVC tournament champs, with 213 points and three first-place votes.

Murray State finished third with 212 points and the other three first-place votes ahead of Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State, UT Martin, Morehead State, Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay and SIUE.

The OVC eliminated divisional play for the upcoming season after five years and returned to an 18-game conference schedule last used in 2010-11.

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