Belmont searches for first NCAA Tournament victory

Rick Byrd
Rick Byrd

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Going to the NCAA Tournament is nothing new for the Belmont Bruins, winning would be though.

On Friday afternoon at 2:10 p.m., the 15th seeded Bruins will take on the second seeded Virginia Cavaliers in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s Belmont’s seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament, and so far they are 0-6. That does not mean they’ve been a flop. They’ve had several very close calls, including a missed shot at the buzzer against Duke.

The Bruins are a heavy underdog against the ACC champions though and defense is why.

The Cavaliers are one of the elite defensive teams in the country and Belmont head coach Rick Byrd took notice Thursday saying, “I think most coaches admire that kind of program more than any.  The kind that will just go in and tell you, this is what we’re going to do, this how we’re going do it. We’re going to do it so good we’re going to beat you and that’s what they do.”

Upsets are a way of life in the tournament though. A pair of three seeds, Iowa State and Baylor both lost on the opening day Thursday and Virginia head coach Tony Bennett knows this Bruin squad is dangerous.

Bennett is particularly concerned with Belmont’s offense.

“In the case of Belmont, you know they can hit shots with hands in the face, but if we’re going to be good we have to make them hit most of those shots, bothered shots,” explained Bennett.

If Belmont wins Friday it would be one of the great upsets of all-time. A 15 seed has only advanced seven times in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

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