Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Belmont Bruins

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Record: 30-4, 19-1

Rankings: 20 (Kenpom), 33 (Sagarin), 50 (RPI)

Potential Seed: 13/14

Best Players: Ian Clark (12.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg), Mick Hedgepeth (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Scott Saunders (10.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: Belmont has just four losses on the season. They lost at Tennessee twice (by nine and by one), they lost at Vanderbilt by nine, and they lost at Lipscomb in the rematch of the Battle of the Boulevard. Unfortunately, those are the only quality opponents Belmont has faced. They have just two top 100 wins -- both East Tennessee State, who is 96th in the RPI.

Tendencies: Belmont reminds me quite a bit of last year's Murray State team that knocked off Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament's first round. They are incredibly balanced -- 11 players averaged between 10.4 and 24.6 mpg and no one scores more than 12.4 ppg -- and are one of the best teams in the country at forcing turnovers. Offensively, they execute very well and have a number of players that can shoot from distance, but they also grab 37.9% of the available offensive rebounds.

How They Got There: Belmont cruised this season. The Bruins went into the start of conference play 8-3 and rolled through their Atlantic Sun opponents. If you include the tournament games, Belmont went 22-1 in league play. All but four of those wins were by double figures, including an 87-46 win over North Florida in the title game.

Outlook: Belmont has the make-up of a team that teams in the 3-5 range need to worry about. They are experienced, they force turnovers, they can rebound the ball, and they have a number of excellent shooters that shoot a lot of threes. With potential matchups against teams like St. John's, Georgetown, Florida, Louisville, Arizona, and UConn, and potential round of 32 matchups against another team of similar caliber, the Bruins are a legitimate Sweet 16 sleeper.


Tyler said...

30 wins and a top 50 rpi?
Belmont deserves better than a 14 seed.

Jesse said...

They deserve at least an 11 (and I would go higher), but they won't get it because "they didn't play anyone." It bothers me - who a team plays shouldn't be more important than how well they play.