Yep, that's right. After establishing itself as the premier program in the conference, Belmont will head off to join Murray State in the Ohio Valley in 2012-13. Bruin fans chanted "OVC! OVC! OVC!" upon Belmont's bid-clinching 83-69 win over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday, which amounts to the most unlikely chant this weekend we will have this weekend. It's also the saddest. It should be interesting to see how the OVC shapes itself in the coming years. It's possible, even likely, Belmont won't find this success again soon. Prior to 2006, the program had never been to the NCAAs.
Let's get our focus back to this year. Does Belmont stand its best chance at March success? That's arguable. The team's really fun, and terrific on offense -- but not so much on defense. I think last year's 30-5 Bruins team was a better one, but this group has three seniors and three juniors who get significant playing time, so that could accrue to tangible growth. It's all a matter of matchups. What you should know: Belmont is dangerous and likely to be a chic upset pick. Despite being a weak rebounding team, they don't turn the ball over and are fairly staunch in their man-to-man defense.
Byrd is a good tactician as a coach, and they'll no doubt have wrinkles ready for whatever team they face. It's hard to see Belmont getting blown out in its first game.
Player to know: Kerron Johnson. Johnson is the speedy guard who takes on the biggest load for the Bruins. He scores more than 1.2 points per possesion -- only 5-11 Drew Hanlen equals that for Belmont -- and with a 63-percent true shooting percentage, he's in the top one percent of college basketball shooters. He led the team with 14.1 points and 5.2 assists per game. Not a lot of guys can check his ability, although he does have a few unforced turnovers each game.
|The Bruins are back again. Will this be their breakthrough year in the NCAAs? (AP)|
- Record: 26-7 overall, 16-2 in Atlantic Sun
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2011, No. 10 seed, lost 72-58 to Wisconsin.
- We’re thinking: 13 seed
- KenPom ranking: 25
- Sagarin ranking: 33
- RPI: 60
- Best wins: at Middle Tennessee State, vs. Marshall
- Worst losses: Home against Lipscomb, at Miami (OH)
- Notable stat: Belmont shoots 55.8 percent from the field in effective field goal percentage, which weights 3-point shots correctly. That percentage is the fifth-best in the country. The Bruins can score from everywhere.