Men’s preview: Ohio Valley Conference

Editor’s note: College golf is dormant in January, so let Golfweek’s annual conference preview series serve as a bridge to the spring season. Here you’ll find fall highlights and spring predictions for each conference with an automatic qualifying spot in the postseason. The series (read all stories here) runs from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11.

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Ohio Valley Conference

Conference championship: April 24-26, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals (Fighting Joe Course), Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Defending champion: Jacksonville State

Conference members (Golfweek ranking in parentheses): Jacksonville State (111), Austin Peay State (128), Eastern Kentucky (145), Tennessee-Martin (162), Belmont (170), Tennessee Tech (198), Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (229), Murray State (232), Morehead State (235), Eastern Illinois (256), Tennessee State (258)

Conference favorite: Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks didn’t finish better than third in four fall events, but they do boast the best player in the conference in Tomasz Anderson. The senior won the Golfweek Program Challenge, his fifth career college victory, after closing with a final-round 60. He also didn’t finish worse than T-9 in his other three fall starts. Behind Anderson, sophomore Pablo Torres gives Jacksonville State a talented No. 2 guy. The Gamecocks have won three of the past four OVC titles.

Could challenge: Austin Peay State. Juniors Austin Kramer and Chris Baker give this squad veteran leadership atop the lineup and freshman Jonas Vaisanen, who made five starts in the fall, has shown promise. Plus, finishing the fall with a victory at its home event gives Austin Peay some momentum entering the spring.

Sleeper: Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels proved they could beat Jacksonville State and Austin Peay State in the fall, finishing ahead of both teams at the WKU Kenny Perry Invitational. It will likely be tougher to repeat that feat at the OVC Championship.

Midseason All-Conference team: Tomasz Anderson, Jacksonville State (senior); Ashton Van Horne, Belmont (junior); Logan Hogge, Morehead State (junior); Pablo Torres, Jacksonville State (sophomore); Austin Kramer, Austin Peay State (junior).

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