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Date/Time: March 8th, 7:00 pm ET
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The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament continues on Friday night with the debut game of the Belmont Bruins. The boys on the bubble will hope to help remove all doubt on their quest to capture the OVC auto-bid, which begins with a battle on the college basketball betting odds against the Tennessee State Tigers.
Many considered the Tigers dark horses to win this tournament, and here they are, two wins away from dancing. Of course, they have really only taken care of the business that they were expected to tend to by taking down the Morehead State Eagles thus far here in Nashville. The game wasn’t an overly tough one, but it was a game at pace for sure. The 88 points scored in that game against the Eagles marked the seventh time in the last nine games that the Tigers scored at least 80, and one of those games came against this very same Belmont team a few weeks ago. The game totally revolves around just four players for TSU, and that could become problematic the deeper this tournament goes. F Robert Covington, F Kellen Thornton, G Patrick Miller, and G Jordan Cyphers are accounting for nearly 60 points per game between them, and they are also good for a large percentage of the boards and assists that this team comes up with.
The Bruins are the interesting study, though. Are they in the NCAA Tournament right now? It’s going to be a tough sell to take two teams out of the Ohio Valley to the dance, but if two made it from the Metro Atlantic last year, why not? Belmont has an RPI of 22 and the No. 2 out of conference strength of schedule in the land. It’s not the Bruins’ fault that they played in a conference that was merely average this season. Of course, winning these next two games on Friday and Saturday would have bubble dwellers breathing a bit easier and would surely remove the doubt for Belmont. Stopping G Ian Clark is nearly impossible, and he is one of these players that, assuming the Bruins do get into the dance, could be a name that you’ll learn a lot about. He is shooting 54.3 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from long range, and that’s translating into 18.1 points per game. Four others are averaging at least 9.9 points per game as well, and just like Tennessee State, Belmont doesn’t sub out its stars all that often.
We have to remember though, that the Tigers have a history of causing Belmont troubles. The Bruins were 0-2 ATS this year in this series, and they even lost one of those two games outright. Could we be watching the first major upset on the bubble this year? We wouldn’t discount the idea. We certainly want the points on our side, and we wouldn’t be shocked if this were a major upset, too. Tennessee State 82 – Belmont 78
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.