The Belmont Bruins earned a No. 11 seed on Selection Sunday, drawing sixth seeded Arizona in the process.
The No. 11 seed garnered by the NCAA selection committee is a testament to what the Bruins have accomplished, not only this season, but in year’s past. This contest as part of the 2013 NCAA Tournament however, is a big moment for this program and university.
By way of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, the Bruins qualified for their third NCAA Tournament appearances in as many years and sixth since 2006. In their previous five appearances however, Belmont has failed to move forward, totaling an 0-5 mark in their school’s NCAA history. Now, this school is of the mid-major variety, so that shouldn’t come as a total shock, but with three senior leaders highlighting their potential this March, the time to make some noise is now.
Belmont will be gunning for their first NCAA Tournament win in school history on Thursday night and there isn’t much doubt that they have the capability to secure it.
Ian Clark, Kerron Johnson and Trevor Noack are the team’s top three scorers, all averaging in double-figures on the offensive end for a squad that ranks at No. 15 in the country in points per game (77.2). With that being said however, scoring has always been the Bruins’ issue within the NCAA Tournament. Only once, as a 15-seed back in 2008, did Belmont score more than 59 points. That should certainly change on Thursday night.
This might be one of the most potent offenses that Belmont has had in school history and a lot of that can be contributed to the three aforementioned names. The Bruins’ biggest key to success against Arizona on Thursday night will be their ability to drive, kick and convert on open shots.
It’s quickly becoming no secret that the Wildcats’ biggest weakness on defense is protecting the three ball. On the season, Belmont is averaging 8.5 made three pointers a game. That could be a difference maker in this one.
There are a lot of people on the Bruins’ bandwagon, so the pressure on them is actually more than they have ever endured.
Will they live up to that potential? That remains to be seen.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS