Men's Basketball

Murray State comes up big in OVC pre-season voting

Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (3) shoots as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier (10) pursues in the second half of an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, March 15, 2012. Murray State won 58-41. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (3) shoots as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier (10) pursues in the second half of an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, March 15, 2012. Murray State won 58-41. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) AP

Murray State and Belmont were chosen as division favorites, and the Racers' Isaiah Canaan was picked pre-season player of the year in voting announced Tuesday by the Ohio Valley Conference's men's basketball coaches and sports information directors.

Murray State, the league's defending champion, got 22 of a possible 24 first-place votes to top the West Division. OVC newcomer Belmont was picked best in the East with 21 first-place votes.

This will be the first season for divisional play in the OVC, which now has 12 teams.

Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky were picked to finish fourth and fifth respectively in the East Division.

Last season, Murray State was 31-2, won both the OVC regular-season and tournament championships, advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the country.

After 11 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Belmont officially became a member of the OVC on July 1. The Bruins have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in five of the past seven seasons, including the past two.

Morehead State has a new head coach, Sean Woods, who led Mississippi Valley State to the NCAA Tournament last year. Eastern Kentucky enters its eighth season under Coach Jeff Neubauer and has eight returning letter winners.

Canaan, who was joined on the All-OVC team by teammate Ed Daniel, was named the 2012 OVC Player of the Year and 2011-12 OVC Male Athlete of the Year after ranking 24th nationally in scoring (19 points per game), sixth in three-point percentage (45.6) and 13th in three-pointers made per game (2.97).

EKU women picked second in East

Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin were picked to win the OVC East and West Divisions, respectively, in women's basketball voting announced Tuesday.

Eastern Kentucky got six first-place votes and was second in the East. Morehead State was picked to finish fourth.

UT-Martin senior guard Heather Butler was voted pre-season player of the year.

Junior guards Marie Carpenter of EKU and Erica Burgess of Murray State were named to the All-OVC team.

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