When you think of the Ohio Valley Conference, what comes to mind?
You might think of the legendary coaches like Rick Byrd and Dave Loos, or you could think of the elite programs within the conference like Murray State, Belmont, Austin Peay, and Morehead State.
Better yet, you could automatically think of the great players like Ja Morant, Popeye Jones, Kenneth Faried, Ian Clark, or any combination of the legends that have made there way through the OVC.
Over the years, the OVC has turned into one of the elite mid-major basketball conferences in the country. From the days of Municipal Auditorium in Nashville to the brand new Ford Center in Evansville, the OVC has been a college basketball fixture since 1948.
So what is a typical Saturday like, in the OVC, you might ask?
That's a good question, a question that I sat out to answer. On Saturday, I made my way to the heart of OVC country to see two of the founding members square off in a battle for the Bluegrass between the Murray State Racers and the Morehead State Eagles.
The very first thing that I quickly noticed about life in OVC country was the hospitality by all the people I encountered. It started with a pit stop in Hazel, Kentucky, to explore and grab a bite to eat.
While in Hazel, I went to an old fashioned antique store by the name of Mantiques, this place is a must-see in the area. Mantiques has everything that any antique shopper could ever dream of, from old Hot Wheels, Kentucky Derby memorabilia, to a wide range of baseball cards.
Next up, the Blue and White grill, which is right across the street from Mantiques. The Blue and White Grill is a little small diner, dedicated to good food, and college basketball. The Blue and White grill is a meat and three vegetable type of places, at a very reasonable price. The food is fresh, service is far above anywhere else, and the basketball talk is plentiful.
Just ten minutes up the road in Murray, Kentucky, you will find the beautiful campus of Murray State, home of the Murray State Racers.
Why Murray State? Murray State is one of the founding members of the OVC, so I figured what better place to experience OVC basketball than at the CFSB with the Racers.
Here are my takeaways from the game itself.
Murray State has some of the most passionate but knowledgeable fans in college basketball. The Racers fan base is a group of hard-working people who are prone to a winning tradition with Murray State hoops. The Racers fan base is passionate as well, bringing all the energy they have to the CFSB each gameday. Murray State fans have the CFSB the most feared arena in the OVC, and one of the most impressive throughout the mid-major level.
With 8,000 plus every game, it's hard to beat a game at the CFSB, the thing about it is, it's like that at almost every school in the conference.
Next, the game itself was competitive, with not much difference in the style of play from the elite to the OVC.
Lastly, for those on a low budget but love the game of basketball, the OVC is your place. For example, General Admission tickets for Murray State basketball are 12$, which gets you in the door for a basketball doubleheader with the women and men teams playing in back-to-back games. With free parking and cheap concessions, it's a no brainer for families across the blueprint of the OVC to travel to their respected campus and cheer on their teams.
The OVC is a special place if you're a college basketball fan you should make it a priority to visit one of these campuses for a game. It will be a time you will never forget that will remind you of all things that are pure with college basketball.