EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Coach Rick Byrd and his Belmont Bruins once again are the preseason favorites to win the Ohio Valley Conference, just edging out defending league champ Murray State.

Belmont is the preseason favorite for a fourth straight year in balloting by the OVC's coaches and sports information directors. The predictions released Tuesday before the league's media day gave Belmont eight first-place votes and 227 points with Murray State, who won both the regular season title and the tournament championship last season, receiving nine first-place votes and 221 points.

Jacksonville State came in third with seven first-place votes and 211 votes.

Austin Peay came in fourth followed by Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri, Morehead State, UT Martin and SIUE.

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