(OVC) - The field for the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Championship Presented by Visit Evansville has been set after the final day of the regular season.
Belmont will be the No. 1 seed after finishing OVC play 16-2 after sharing the OVC regular season championship with Murray State. It marks the fifth regular-season crown for the Bruins in seven years as members of the OVC. Belmont, 25-4 overall on the season, earned a double bye to the semifinals and will open play on Friday night.
Murray State also finished the regular season 25-4 and 16-2 in the OVC, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bruins and will be the No. 2 seed. The Racers did earn a share of the regular season crown, marking its record 26th OVC title. As the No. 2 seed MSU will open play on Friday night after earning a double bye to the semifinals.
Jacksonville State is the No. 3 seed (its highest-ever seed after being the No. 4 seed each of the past two years) while Austin Peay earned the No. 4 seed. Both of those teams receive a single bye to Thursday's quarterfinals.
The top four seeds represent the last four OVC Tournament Champions: Belmont (2015), Austin Peay (2016), Jacksonville State (2017) and Murray State (2018).
The field is rounded out No. 5 seed Morehead State, No. 6 seed Eastern Illinois, No. 7 seed UT Martin and No. 8 seed SIUE.
Since 2011 the men's bracket has used a merit-based system that gives the No. 1 and 2 seeds a double bye to the semifinals while the No. 3 and 4 seeds get a single bye to the quarterfinals. The first round will match up the No. 5/8 and No. 6/7 seeds.
This year marks the second-straight year the event has been held at the Ford Center, which opened in 2011 and is located in the core of Evansville’s downtown district.
This event marks the 56th 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 and quarterfinals can be seen on ESPN+, the first multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company Direct-to-Consumer & International segment. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year). ESPN+ is an integrated part of the completely redesigned ESPN App and also available on the web, iPhone, iPad, tvOS, Android Handset, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and FireTV.
The semifinals will air live on ESPNU while the championship game will air live on ESPN2.
2019 OVC Men's Basketball Championship Presented by Visit Evansville (Ford Center - Evansville, Ind.)
First Round - Wednesday, March 6
Game 1 - #5 Morehead State vs. #8 SIUE, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Game 2 - #6 Eastern Illinois vs. #7 UT Martin, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Quarterfinals - Wednesday, March 7
Game 3 - #4 Austin Peay vs. Game 1 Winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Game 4 - #3 Jacksonville State vs. Game 2 Winner, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Semifinals - Wednesday, March 8
Game 5 - #1 Belmont vs. Game 3 Winner, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 6 - #2 Murray State vs. Game 4 Winner, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Championship - Wednesday, March 9
Game 7 - Semifinal Winners, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2/Westwood One)